Hi-Tech Night Vision on bin Laden Raid

So I’m not going to say where I saw it, but it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen an operator wearing.

And it gave me the idea to explore the concept of what might be out there that’s better than the “known” state of the art.

During an assignment I saw a Soldier wearing what is known as the “QUADEYE” night vision vision system made by Elbit. It freakin’ looked like the guy was from Starship Troopers or something — literally two sets of PVS-15s hanging off the helmet.

Designed for aviators (wonder if Night Stalkers are wearing these) it can give ground guys some return of peripheral vision that’s usually robbed by standard NVGs.

QUADEYE is designed around four, advanced, 16mm, image-intensifier tubes. Its modular construction permits the user to select between using only the two inner channels or four panoramic channels. Additionally, QUADEYE® provides for projection of avionics head up display symbology or the aircraft’s targeting sensor’s video image into the goggle’s eyepiece through a high-resolution display.

So this is the known. But what about rumors of scientific advances with something even lower profile? I heard a rumor that the Team guys who busted bin Laden might have been wearing “cat vision” contact lenses that literally give the wearer night vision for a limited time without having to wear the bulky, heavy NVGs.

Now, all I’m finding on this is a mention from Popular Science back in 2004.

The blink powered night vision contact lenses allow a person to see clearly in low- light environments by enhancing ambient light up to 200 per cent. These lenses use plasma technologies to eliminate the cumbersome and expensive image-intensification tubes used in convention night-vision goggles. The advantages of using the contact lenses above night-vision goggles are 1) full peripheral vision, 2) more comfortable interface, 3) a more cost-effective system, and 4) less disorientation with use.

While one site says this is a hoax, the entry is seven years old. Seems to me this kind of thing — especially in a time of war — might be doable over that amount of time. And since the Tier 1 guys get things like stealth helicopters that no one had ever seen before, why couldn’t they have night vision contacts?

  • Rebecca

    How in the world would you keep from being blinded in changing situation. It’s not like the goggles that can just be flipped up or removed…

    • Distiller


      • TROJANII

        No, welding goggles.

    • jsocker

      I believe the more advanced technology provides automatic adjustments as the ambient light changes.

  • Finally Happened

    They’re called “Nightacs” and the year of conception is 1992…I think the LA Riots were occuring at the same time these things were conceptualized.

  • USAF SSgt

    This is sort of off topic about the night vision contact lens, but the Air Force and probably the other services have had a four tubed night visions system for quite a few years now. They’re called the AN/AVS-10, but the pilots who wear them tend to hate them, even though they have around a 40%(?) improvement to their peripheral. I’ve heard of many a pilot decide to take the AN/AVS-9s over the -10 because they are too front heavy and awkward.

  • anyone

    that contact lens stuff if probably fake, because if it increases light sensitivity so much, wouldnt the solider be blinded by someone with a flashlight? probably better to have goggles that can be taken off in case the enemy counters with “turning on the lights” or “using a flashlight”.

    • Guest

      it’s called gain control. Current Gen III NVGs have them, why not this. It would probably take some nano-technology but theoretically speaking, I don’t see why it’s not possible.

  • kILO

    Why is everything revolving around the “Bin Laden Raid” The SEALs and other SO groups have conducted thousands of raids similar to the “Bin Laden Raid”… but because the target was such high profile, there is a huge trend surrounding the raid and everything used in it… Sure it spices up headlines, and fuels the airsofters “tactical obsession” but it’s getting old .. sorry for the rant.. just my thoughts.

    • Nymike

      Well I think the assumption is that since this was the HIGHEST valued target on our list, the raid taking him out would utilize the best of the best equipment.

      • kILO

        The raid taking him out is the same as the one taking anyone out.. at the end of the day hes still a target, the principles and tactics are the same regardless who is on the otherside of the door.

        • Morgan

          The raid was not the same. The principles and tactics can remain unchanged even with the introduction of top secret and or high tech gear. If I was an operator flying 40 minutes into a denied area of Pakistan down the road from a military academy and the capital to kill OBL, I’d also want peripheral night vision. Assuming it works.

  • Dumb Grunt

    I agree. I am Chinese by genetics, American by birth and a Marine Rifleman by choice. Dan and Coxhater are two pathetic fools who should be pitied; one for stupidity and the other for ignorance. Dan spoke before engaging brain and Coxhater spoke with no understanding of what was said. I hear you and stand with you on this, but responding passionately like you did only adds tension to the situation. Just hang tight, they will learn in good time.

  • ChachiBroccoli

    The ambient light increase of 200% is incredibly suspect since we’re talking about minimal ambient light. A photon to electron exchange in the image intensifier tube >25,000 electrons for every photon captured. The 200% increase would be minimal to see in the dark. Nice concept, just don’t think that it is functionable.

  • Morgan

    Geez Dan. Are you saying that China watched the news, saw a blurry television image and then in a few weeks built their own? That’s a some serious reverse engineering. What probably happened is (round about the same time your mother dropped you on your head) the Chinese started researching viable stealth aircraft options and when the Comanche concept was revealed attempted to build their own versions. Do your part for America and keep quiet.

  • Mr.E

    I’m having trouble putting any faith in a scientific article (as linked to in the Kit-Up post) that suggests that a pair of AA batteries will supply “5000 volts”, given that a pair of AA batteries will more normally provide around 3 volts.

    Does the standard NVG set include a giant transformer to ramp up the voltage?

    • mad dog

      Its not a giant transformer, but yes, nvg and electroluminescent systems need transformers to ramp the voltage up to the 1000V plus level to operate, and they are very small. Pay more attention in science class next time….

  • Ondrayz

    Who are these dopes arguing over race? I hope they’re seriously not affiliated, past or present, with the military. I was hoping to gain a little insight into the article, not read about “men” who feel the need to defend their thoughts and opinions in a debate.


    • Uncle Gene

      They are not talking about Chinese people; they’re talking about China as a country. There is no race argument above…not sure what you were reading

  • snakeeater

    The pilots should think about counterbalancing their helmets with lead fishing weights like was discussed in an previous KitUp post.

    • USAF SSgt

      As an Aircrew Flight Equipment tech, I would chew their asses out if they tried modifying their gear. I don’t try to do their job in the cockpit, they need to stay the hell away from my job in the shop.

      • Gene

        I love hearing Enlisted guys that are too big for their britches talk about chewing Officer’s asses. Try it and see how far it goes… Sheesh.

        • USAF SSgt

          Have done it. Had very few problems. You know why? Because they know what they’re supposed to do and what they aren’t and they know damn well that I am very good at my job. Maybe you should just shut up about people and things you don’t know about.

      • crackedlenses

        What’s wrong with the pilots modifying their gear for the better?…..

        • USAF SSgt

          When it comes to life-saving equipment only authorized personnel are allowed to touch it. In the Air Force that means only Aircrew Flight Equipment troops. It’s just what the reg says.

        • nobodyatall


  • kILO

    ha, dude you still dont get it.. METT-TC Always changes – Principles and tactics stay the same. you adapt to the mission.. You take the same playbook, and players to the superbowl that you been playing with all year long. (Highspeed nightvision can help to take out OBL just the same as anyone with a pulse)

  • James

    What kind of boots, boot laces, gloves, body armor, knives, uniforms were on the OBL Raid? LMAO

  • bbb

    Both night vision and contact lens technology have come a loooooong way in 40 years, but neither one have come anywhere this far.

    I would guess it’s either a hoax or simply some futurist thinking about what would be likely in terms of future technology (which could easily be another 40 years off).

  • USAF Aircrew1

    I am a flyer and while I dont modify without talking to life support first, there is a gap between regs and functionality in operation.

    You may give me the helmet to wear my NVGs and you have it set up to regs, but just cause its regulation does not mean its functional in the feild. many a time we have changed the way life support sets up our things so we can accomplish our jobs. Its just cold fact.

    That includes adding a counter weight to my helmet to offset the weight of the NVGs up front. also my helmet is not a life saving device, it provides no ballistic protection, the who purpose to an aviators helmet is to house communication gear, lights, night vision and other accessories. it may stopa bump to the head but its going to do that wether I mod it or not.

    • bbb

      Adding a few ounces of weight to a Kevlar helmet might not seem like much, but slapping fishing weighs onto a $100,000 custom carbon fiber pilot helmet is going to seem like a bad idea when they suddenly weigh nine times as much…

  • Steve

    No, Morgan. Chinese agents were on scene the next day. They purchased the stealth helo’s tail rotor assembly from the Pakistanis.

  • bbb

    Putting an LCD screen into a contact lens is a looong way off. And how are you going to ATTACH it to night vision goggles? With a wire? I don’t think blinking would be very comfortable.

  • shadow

    People the SR-71 was built and flying by 1950’s. Computers that were the size of a large room now are out powered by the watch you wear on your arm. Do you really thing that this type of advancement couldn’t be out there? Seriously, start thinking outside of the box. Because if you don’t, you will always be light-years behind the possible.

  • bbb

    Building a jet that goes really really fast and really really high isn’t that hard. You just make it really pointy and give it big engines.

    Fitting a functioning NVG into a pair of contact lenses is much, much harder.

  • AAA

    “Building a jet that goes really really fast and really really high isn’t that hard. You just make it really pointy and give it big engines.”

    Um, no. It takes a lot of very subtle and important design details. Look into shockwave dynamics. If you don’t do things right, your engine disintegrates right after you break the barrier. It took a LOT of ingenuity, trial and error to learn and make something as functional and fast as the SR-71. Your dismissiveness of that accomplishment reveals more about your ignorance of real-world engineering than anything else.

    “Fitting a functioning NVG into a pair of contact lenses is much, much harder.”

    Again, you’re stuck with a mass-manufacture consumer-gadget mindset. Here’s a tip: start thinking about expensive, one-run prototypes. Go tour the MEMS and nano-device labs at your local university. Then assume that the government is at minimum 5-10 years ahead of that, with a fraction of the budget constraints. There is nothing from a fabrication standpoint that would prevent contact lens NVGs from happening when you start thinking about being able to precisely build and manipulate material and objects at nearly a molecular level. University labs have been doing this for nearly a decade now. Military labs probably at least 20-30 years, with no time-sucking problems like fundraising or paper writing to get in the way.

    “Putting an LCD screen into a contact lens is a looong way off.”

    Researchers at UW made a contact lens prototype with OLEDs in them. Three years ago.

    “And how are you going to ATTACH it to night vision goggles? With a wire?”

    It’s called wireless communications. If an RFID chip the size of a grain of sand can communicate via radio, it’s hardly an effort with something the size of a contact lens. BTW, this too, has also already been demonstrated by researchers.

    Either your skeptical reach far exceeds your grasp of *known* state of the art, or you are a fairly deft troll. I’m not sure which, honestly.

  • Interesting-posts

    I thought some of the posts here were funny and the contacts hilarious.. :) Well done guys :) Anyway, some of what is used is secret, but the “cateye” system you’re thinking of is probably the AN/PVS-21 ( you can google it – Thermal and Image Intensifier with a look-through screen ) – Neat huh? Was it what was used on the mission? Sorry, can’t help you there. And yes, 5000 volts sounds a little high, but then most tube based Night Vision Devices operate from a single AA battery or maybe two, and produce up to 15,000v. They do have a built-in booster however to increase the voltage ( look up cockroft/walton generator )- Oh yeah, the contacts are fake of course, but there are such films, though they need a LOT of light to work – old russian counter-sniper scopes had such technology. Basically they double the frequency of light that hits them. But the technology has no practical current uses.

  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    Increasing the voltage doesn’t require making a much larger transformer. It’s easy to get 5,000 volts from two AA batteries. Ever play with one of those prank lighters or pens that shock you? Those don’t have much more than a coil inside.

  • Mike

    Boots = Tactical vibram 5 fingers (no they dont exist). Laces = gutted 550 cord. Body armor = What ever plate carrier the tier 1 guys felt like wearing that day. I love my P.I.G. plate carrier. Knives = Personal choice again. Uniforms = Multicam, the standard for Afghan deployments at least for the 160th SOAR guys. The SEALs probably wore what ever they wanted to.

  • a4k

    A light-year is a measure of distance, not time.


    Need some that glow red, so primatives and superstitious will think you are a demon. Fear delays response and promotes submissive and flight behavior

    • crackedlenses


  • JasonBourne

    I don’t think the military and Pentagon give 2 shit’s what the FDA has to say about these goggles…what they want they get and no one comes between them….

  • Mark

    Looks like Col Corso came thru on this one !!! The concept seems VERY much like the “eyelid” removed from the Roswell crash entity…which was suposed to give the being “night vision” capacity. Very cool article, and one to give you something to think about. Hogwash ? or a hmmm…?

  • Ray

    have always got a kick out of a common folk who know what is and isn’t possible…fyi there are corps and firms out there that are way ahead of our time and they don’t headline every thing that is possible!

  • I can see a set that would require a project of IR light from a light pack/flash light and the lenses would react to to this IR light bouncing of of everything…..with this it can pass normal light through and react to IR light too.

  • I can see a set that would require a project of IR light from a light pack/flash light and the lenses would react to to this IR light bouncing of of everything…..with this it can pass normal light through and react to IR light too.

    Also, there are stories that came out that the black eyes of grays were artificial lenses and when a person looked through them…they could see in the dark.

  • Trigger them of//on by squeezing the eyes shut perhaps? .

  • Frank Norton

    I am intrigued by this. Prior reports of off planet spacemen having duel eyelids where an inner-eyelid could be closed that provided night vision. Could the contact lense be a form of back engineering?

  • zeroghost

    All on the record since 1947, in plain sight.
    Colonel Philip J. Corso (Chief of the US Army’s Foreign Technology Division, and was a member of President Eisenhower’s National Security Council.) with Edwards O’Connor, Corso, Lt. Gen. Arthur Trudeau and Victor Fediay.
    “The soldiers on the retrieval team looked through one of the seams that had been split open running along the craft’s lengthwise axis and they saw view ports built into the hull. Well, what astonished them was that when they looked through the view ports, they could see daylight, or a greenish, hazy kind of diffused light that looked like dusk, but outside it was completely dark. “”
    “And with that I held up the first of the army’s 1947 sketches of the night viewer we pulled from the wreckage…”
    “Night vision was the first project we actually seeded during the first year of my tenure at Foreign Technology desk at the Pentagon.” http://tinyurl.com/27wl5og

    • Lucius

      I read Corso’s book as soon as it was available. Very interesting, to say the least. I don’t know if you saw the FOX ‘Alien Autopsy’ but what I found interesting (and relevant to this topic) was that the ‘alien’ was wearing flexible black ‘contact lenses’ over its eyes.

  • James

    Those PVS-21 Low Profile NVGs look pretty neat, but what about the AN/PSQ-20 ENVGs? They’re all ready being fielded with SF and 10th Mountain, and combine thermal and low light intensifiers in one system (some of the SF guys I worked with who had them called them “Predator Vision”, though the rest of us had the PVS-14s)

  • CIA

    PR BS, thats why. They didnt even kill bin laden, He was killed years ago.

  • Always knew they had this crazy stuff they been experimenting with it since the late fiftys early sixtys I have heard stories from friends that they got this stuff by studing crashed fling disc ( aka ) sausers . Who knows ?

  • gargage

    do they have permanent side effects? what if you are stupid and wear them?

  • or they could have a small chip in them like welding helmets that blocks out Bright light im sure it wouldn’t be that hard to do especially if they can make the night vision contacts

  • It might be because of the keyword “Bin Laden”. If the blogger is SEO-minded, he knows, that if he uses such keywords in the title and throughout the content on the page, he will get good traffic to his site…

  • Brian

    I was thinking about this tonight myself , ie “Retinal tapetum, as seen in teleosts, crocodiles, marsupials and fruit bats. The tapetum lucidum is within the retina; in the other 3 types the tapetum is within the choroid behind the retina.” (wikipedia) It would stand to reason that a contact lens with reflective properties on the inside much like a Cat-lens uses to bounce the light through the optics could be produced. The interior mirroring would need to preserve the directionality of the light to prevent distortion. Since we are now able (and have been for some time) grow crystals used in sunglasses. We should be able to grow a auxiliary tapetum lucidum lens that humans can use.
    Where do I get my pair?

  • stuman

    id say hoax but a probable solution to the cumbersome quadeye would be to afix flir thermal night vsion cameras to a soldiers helmet and then transfer the video feed to special lenes in a pair of combat sunglasses

  • Sam


  • A4K

    A light year is a measure of distance…time is a relative statement solely rate and time equating to distance, thus an exageration that does fit…good call on knowledge.

  • Tom

    When you use these night lenses, what happens when they interact with light when these contacts are in? It should effect your visibility, correct?

  • J

    LMFAO…that’s awesome

  • Hero1774

    Where can we get these “Cat eyes” contact lenses? and where can i buy them? i want to try them out.

    Posted 10/14/2013