How Military Branches Utilize Thermal Vision Goggles to Protect Their Frontline Troops - CHK-SHIELD | Outdoor Army - Tactical Gear Shop

How Military Branches Utilize Thermal Vision Goggles to Protect Their Frontline Troops

How Military Branches Utilize Thermal Vision Goggles to Protect Their Frontline Troops

In today’s world, the USA Military is consistently working to keep their soldiers and overall troops protected. While a great deal of that protection comes from ensuring that their teams are well trained, it also comes from ensuring that they are well prepared. This means constantly advancing technology when needed and providing new and beneficial equipment to help keep their men and women safe.

Military soldiers walking in combat against a wall with night vision goggles on

When it comes to safety equipment, there are two sides to the coin. Some safety equipment is protective, meaning that they are designed to protect the soldier at hand. This includes items such as plate carrier vests and helmets. Other types of safety equipment are preventative, meaning that the soldier isn’t on the field or in combat acting like a “sitting duck”, waiting to be hit.

One of the biggest and most transformative pieces of safety equipment that has helped prevent soldiers from being blind while on the field, are Night and Thermal Vision Goggles. In today’s blog we’re breaking down everything you need to know about this kind of equipment, how they work, and how they’ve truly been a game changer for Military troops. If you’re interested in learning more, just keep reading…

What Are Night Vision and Thermal Vision Goggles?

Before we mention just how helpful and beneficial, they are, it’s important to note what, exactly, Night Vision and Thermal Vision Googles are. Now essentially, Night, and Thermal vision goggles are both, night vision goggles, however both work to pick up different elements so that the wearer can be able to see even when they are in the darkest of environments.

Now night vision goggles are also known as image enhancement goggles. These are used to amplify existing light, making it easier to see. Now you may be thinking, but what kind of light is being picked up in the dark? Well, truth be told, even on the darkest of nights there are tiny bits of light present. So, it is the night vision goggles’ job to collect all of the available light that is present and amplify it so that the wearer can “see” while in the dark.

View of what soldiers look like when wearing night vision goggles

Thermal vision goggles work similarly; however, it uses thermal imaging. Hot objects, such as animals and human bodies give off heat in the form of infrared light. Therefore, thermal goggles or thermal night vision goggles use thermal imaging technology to capture the “heat” in infrared light and process it so that the wearer can see the “hot image” moving around in the dark.

View of thermal imaging for a person and their temperature

Given that both work similarly, many ask, so which option is better? Truth be told, Thermal Imaging is better suited for darker situations. If the soldier or person at hand is going to be in complete darkness, it is better for them to have Thermal Googles on. But that doesn’t mean that it is always the preferred choice for the military. Sometimes soldiers may be required to gather surveillance or navigate difficult landscapes in the dark, if that is the case, then typically Night Vision Googles will be used instead. Hunters will also prefer Night Vision Googles as well.

Requirements for Obtaining Thermal Equipment in the Military

Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few requirements needed for soldiers, troops, and branches to gain access to their thermal gear. Especially if you are in the Army! This is because a great deal needs to be analyzed and considered to ensure that the specific needs of the troops will be met for the mission by the gear provided.

This is quite different than Night Vision equipment! Most likely since this type of gear has been used since the 1930s, when the US Military needed to be able to see German tanks while walking at night in the dark. It is also easier to acquire Night Vision gear because it typically takes and provides one type of “image” by highlighting certain light in the dark, as we previously mentioned.

Soldier wearing advanced thermal vision goggles and his view of his hand

Here’s a list of the requirements that are considered before gaining access to the thermal gear:

  1. Size and Weight: If you’ve read some of our other blogs, you know that most military branches are carrying quite the amount of weight during their missions. This increases the need for lightweight and easy to carry gear, even when it comes to thermal imaging. Another important factor is gear that works silently. This is referred to as silent operation, superlative performance and easy use or the Swap system (Size, weight, and power).
  2. Quality: If you’re using thermal gear, especially thermal vision goggles, it is imperative that the image quality and precision is next to perfect. From being able to capture incredible data at all times of the day to keeping soldiers and troops as a whole safe, the thermal imaging needs to be of high resolution. We’ll also note that during a mission, being able to tell the difference between an enemy soldier and someone on your team is necessary. So, depending on what needs to be viewed through the thermal gear, resolution, and quality if a huge factor!
  3. Situational Awareness: Yes, it is important to be able to spot a person moving in the dark, but what might be even more necessary is locating target locations. If this is necessary, then the troops will need gear that can not only detect people but also provide them with great situational awareness. At this point, MWIR and LWIR devices, which are geared to deliver long-range detection, recognition and identification are necessary.

How are Thermal Vision Googles Used as Protection?

It’s obvious that thermal vision goggles are used to give soldiers vision at night or in dark areas, be able to locate enemy soldiers and key locations, as well as protect themselves from enemies at all times of the day. However, during this section of the blog, we want to go in-depth into how this piece of technology has truly changed the game for the military.

Soldier wearing thermal vision goggles and seeing thermal views of his enemies in combat

  1. Military Base Protection: Military bases are a huge target for terrorists and enemy sources, given the amount of information that they hold. Not only do military soldiers have thermal vision goggles on when standing watch for their base, but the surrounding cameras are also present with thermal vision, so that they can collect and gather information at all times of the day.
  2. Motion Detection: This is a huge role for soldiers who are equipped with thermal gear. Not only does it help them stay protected by being able to see during the night, but it also allows them to ward off and warn others if there are any signs of motion detected. While thermal vision was initially developed to be able to do this, nowadays the technology has advanced to be able to identify targets and recognize and detect any movement.
  3. Vehicle Mounted Sights: This is another less surprising way in which the technology is used to keep the soldiers and troops safe. After all, night vision goggles, which are the jumping off point for thermal vision, were created to identify German trucks at night. By using Thermal Vision Goggles, soldiers are able to quickly hone in on and identify any dangers or threats. In addition, vehicles are also fitted with Driver Vision Enhancer (DVE) and Local Situational Awareness systems (LSA) that help to ensure safety and security.
  4.  Drones and Mini Drones: While this is not exactly thermal/night vision in use, we wanted to mention the use of thermal vision in drones, given how much information they can provide a soldier. Nowadays, soldiers can use a combat-ready nano drive that fits in their pack and can be used to transmit thermal video streams and images to a screen that is carrier in a soldier’s chest. This helps when soldiers need to scout an area, launch an offensive, or detect and recognize targets.

View of buildings and soldiers from a thermal standpoint


Military technology can be used to provide a soldier safety or can give a soldier the means to ensure they are kept in a safe position. When it comes to Night Vision Goggles and Thermal Vision Googles, there is no doubt that this type of technology is used to ensure a soldier has what he or she needs to be able to detect danger, be aware of certain targets, and overall, keep themselves, their base, and their fellow soldiers safe. It’s interesting to note that while this type of equipment used to be just for a soldier’s vision, it is now being used to help identify targets, protect bases, and provide live streams for soldiers.

If you’re interested in improving your outdoor gear line up, whether that be for hunting, hiking, or for combat purposes, be sure to check out our store. We have some of the best brands and prices available, to bring you exactly what you need!

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