Army Links New Thermal Scope and ENVG with Wireless Connection

FWS-I and ENVG III prototype

The Army’s latest weapons sight technology could be a significant breakthrough in how soldiers engage the enemy at night.

I filed a story about it today on

In three years, the Army hopes to start fielding the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual, a new lightweight thermal weapon sight that is designed to communicate wirelessly with the service’s latest Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG).

Linking these two technologies creates a new capability called Rapid Target Acquisition, according to Lt. Col. Timothy Fuller, product manager for Soldier Maneuver Sensors at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The FWS-I mounts on the M4 carbine or the M249 squad automatic weapon. At the push of a button, a soldier can wirelessly transmit the FWS-I’s sight reticle into the wide display screen of the helmet-mounted ENVG III and quickly fire at the enemy target, Army officials said.

ENVG III and FWS-I morph display

Back in the early days of the Army’s Land Warrior program, Army officials tried to link weapon to the high-tech system’s helmet mounted display so soldiers could stay behind cover by holding their weapon up over a wall or around a corner.

The weapon-mounted thermal sight sent a signal through a cable to the system’s micro-processor and the target and the sight reticle would appear in the soldier’s helmet-mounted display.

The concept worked, but soldiers hated it because the bulky cables would get snagged in tight areas or on tree branches in the woods. The thermal sight back then was also too heavy and bulky.

Col. Mike Sloane, Project Manager for Soldier Sensors and Lasers, said this new wireless technology has changed all that.

“I have gone to some of these early user assessments and talked to the soldiers about what they like about this system … and I got to tell you they are pretty excited about it — one because of the capability without all the wires; two, how clear that picture is; and three, it is wirelessly transmitting into their ENVG III so it opens up the whole world,” Sloane said.

“They certainly understand ‘hey I don’t have to put myself at risk.’ You could be inside a building and have full situational awareness. … You could reach out and look around without exposing yourself and see what is over there.

“You can be reaching out there and have your reticle, your crosshairs directly on your target, reach out and take a shot without having to exposing yourself.”

Check out the full story on


About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • Pete Sheppard

    And how long will it take to develop sensors that can detect the emissions?

    • 1C3

      Thermal imaging is a passive collection system. In laymens terms; similar to unassisted night vision. Unlike night vision however, to achieve best results, no active user created light source (IR beam, flair, etc) is required.

      • vonvomit

        Does not matter if it is passive or not. They are developing technology that will detect passive detection. And, that still does not address the issue of EMP, sand storms, snow storms, or that the technology is jam-able. (wireless….radio waves/electrical waves? That is not detectable? Better study electrical theory and radio…then you will see where I am coming from) Besides, the technology the military is using today and in the future is dependent upon wireless technology. And that brings me to my second point…EMP…has anyone ever wondered what will happen if the enemy uses electrical jammers or if there is a massive solar flare? Duh!!!!

        • DBM

          You can what if all day and do nothing. Or you can adopt new technology and have a decisive edge over the 3rd world fighters we will be fighting for years to come. The real problem is soldiers becoming overly dependent on the technology and not knowing how to do their job when this gee wiz equipment fails.

        • seans

          Jesus christ bro. Do you realize how much equipment we have that puts out signals. If they can detect a signal that has a 3ft broadcasting range, they are line of sight and can see you. That is of course if they don’t bother to use the already open source tech you can get at a radio shack to detect the RF energy from our radios. Thermal tech is passive, no way someone can tell if we are using it or not, that is the point of passive. If somehow they develop magical tech that allows them to pick up the signal being sent to the helmet, you can develop a wiring system for it. Which again doesn’t really matter cause they would be tracking us by our radios at that point. And jesus EMP? You know their are ways to harden against that right. Military started doing that back in the 80s.

          • When we fight someone who can detect all those signals we are going to relearn some NASTY lessons.

            The Ukrainians are learning them now…

            “Ukrainian forces are short of secure communications systems. The result is that their communications are both subject to jamming, and often also show their location to Russian direction-finding equipment. This can lead to being swiftly targeted by Russian artillery, including Grad and other, more powerful, rocket systems.”

            Bet I’ll be getting negative votes because so many are still fighting the last war…

          • asdffdsa

            >When we fight someone who can detect all those signals we are going to relearn some NASTY lessons.
            Are you implying that the US military doesn’t have soldiers trained for SIGINT to do exactly that to other forces? They know exactly how this shit works, but go ahead and continue with your Luddite fantasies about how battles should be fought.

            >Ukrainian forces are short of secure communications systems
            >short of secure communications systems
            So you think walky talkies from a local Walmart are the same as radios used by the military? They aren’t.

          • No, I’m not implying we can’t do the same (though our assets are substantially less and employed differently). Our ability to do the same doesn’t mitigate the enemy’s ability to do it to us.

            My vision of future warfare is far from being a luddite. It is neither ignorant of history or naive. In the past, soldier’s visual and auditory signatures gave their positions away which is why we enforced noise and light discipline. The future battlefield, especially when conducting operations against a near peer is going to include electronic signatures.

            Do you think our high tech secure military radios don’t put out signals? The enemy doesn’t have to be able to listen to what we are saying to gain useful targeting data. The types, strength and duration of a radio transmission provide the enemy a clue on what type of unit and where that signal is coming from.

            Russian artillery employment is a bit different than ours. They routinely take out grid squares where they suspect an Infantry unit is positioned. We do it in response to counterbattery and to engage more fixed facilities.

            Technology is great. So is some knowledge of history and potential enemies.

  • Docduracoat

    The weapon mounted sight has to transmit to the helmet mounted display without wires.
    So Pete is right, even if it is extremely low power and only transmits a few feet, it is possible to detect the wireless transmissions.
    Or even jam the transmission.
    Even better to ” spoof” the signal and have every shot go off target. Or see thousands of targets.

  • vonvomit

    Yes…lets do away with marksmanship training and get a wireless device that is traceable, jam-able, and malfunctions under adverse conditions. After all, it must be a great concept when the enemy can jam our technology, trace our technology, and to have it malfunction during a sand storm or extreme solar flare or EMP, rendering the device useless, and the soldier or soldiers exposed, and unable to aim their weapon when engaging the enemy. Boy, what will they think of next!

    • 1C3

      It’s amazing that every time an article comes out with experimental prototype technology, there’s this group that thinks we are eliminating fundamental training in the affected area.

      This technology allows ADDITIONAL capabilities and enhances current shortfalls of traditional optics in their respective categories. I never received marksmanship training concerning holding my rifle around a corner and firing at the target, did you?

      While jamming is a concern, the image is also available in the rear of the optic for the dominant eye to use.

      There are possible environmental problems with every optic, and a HEMP event could possibly affect every type of powered optic to include your basic Aimpoint. The rifle still has irons and the soldier still has the MK 1 eyeball.

      Your concern and POV reminds me of people freaking out on the use of GPS technology. We still teach land navigation, however every mission uses GPS because it’s a force multiplier.

      • We do cut training. Do you think everyone zeroes/shoots iron sights in basic?

        • 1C3

          I do not have a Sailor in my section, but after asking the Soldier and Marine, yes they do. I’m AF and re qualified last year, we had to shoot both iron and red dot. We all had the optic on during the practical portion. You train as you fight. I asked our Gunny during his deployments how often their optics broke in field. Other than fragmentation, which took the rifle out of service as well (some clearly inop, others for safety/armorer inspection) theirs all survived.

          Anyone who’s going to be issued thermal gear too is going to have extensive training. These are not for the crew chiefs or firedogs.

          • One soldier does not make the case for the whole Army. Not every soldier (or even Marine) has the same yearly training requirements. E.G. Infantry shoot qualification twice a year where the overwhelming majority of specialties only shoot once.

            Training that is actually conducted by any unit is a function of what’s directed, checked, the leadership and resources available.

            One company’s gunny does not speak for the whole Corps. There’s a reason most door kickers run back up iron sights.

            You might want to check the story the author referred to above. Infantry platoons are going to be issued these sights down to fire team leader level. There is no rigorous course to achieve E-5 or be selected as a team leader. These aren’t dirt bags or incompetent by any stretch of the imagination but your understanding of how “rigorous” training is across the Army is a bit unrealistic.

            Again, it depends on what’s directed, checked, the leadership and resources available. New Equipment Training (NET) will likely be units studying the -10 manual and conducting an hour or two class on the new gear.

        • Chris

          I went through basic 2 years ago, and no they do not teach/zero/shoot irons at least at Benning.

          • Hi Chris, my friend who is a senior Drill Sergeant at Benning said the same thing. The exception is Infantry Basic (and Infantry officers also). Many folks don’t know all the Armor and a fair amount of other specialties also have basic at Ft. Benning.

    • SAM

      This is why we keep BUIS on our weapons. I agree with thte whole Murphy’s law thing, but these things have a time and place, at the descretion of the operator. There is no perfect system, that is what keeps the industry funded. You have to admit this is a good tool under the right circumstances.

    • darthgall

      Alarmist much? No one’s talking about getting rid of marksmanship training.
      “But the technolog could be defeated!”
      If that were really a logical reason not to deploy new technology, no cave man would ever have attached a sharpened piece of stone to a wood handle.
      When he did, some dick probably sat nearby and said “What’s the point? The other tribe will just start wearing thicker furs. Plus, the axehead might fall off the handle, and then where will you be?”

      • bill

        Where you there when when cave men were discussing stone to handle issues?
        Just kidding

      • DBM

        Probably what they said when radios were introduced.

      • vonvomit

        No not alarmist. Just practical. And the points I bring up are reasonable. No matter what people say, sensor technology being developed today eventually will suppress training.A great example is land navigation. The development and employment of GPS has only further suppressed land navigation training. To be fair, there are soldiers who know land navigation like the back of their hand. But, there are many soldiers who use and depend on GPS solely. They do not know how to read a map or use a compass and depend on GPS instead of using map and compass for navigating to their objective. And the same will happen to marksmanship. Now, back to my other points…. Jamming, EMP or a massive solar flare is also another threat to this wonderful technology. Want to ruin a soldiers day? Turn on a search light at night when he is using his NVD to assault or recon a target. Also, want to further ruin a soldiers day? Spoof his sensors for his weapon sight technology rendering it useless…and in a fire fight that can be deadly. Or better yet, employ EMP technology and burn out his sensors. But then there is Murphy’s law in action…have a massive solar event happen at the time of operations, and his sensors become useless. I could say more, but I will not and keep this short. True, this technology for the time being is a useful tool in the right hands. How ever it is what it is. Just a tool. And if it is just a tool, then concentrate on other tools you have, because this is one you do not need.

        • v- You’re right. Keep telling it.

    • LDH2O

      You mean radios right? Yep, let’s go back to WWI tech because it can’t be traced, etc. but nothing electronic or even electric because it would stop in an EMP. Better to have nothing at all than something that might not work under the most (& here-to-fore actually unseen) battlefield conditions.

  • grunt

    FFFFFFFFAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTT!!!!!! ooops did I say something?

  • seans

    For all the people worrying about this being tracked. Yes, yes it can. But guess what else can be tracked by the enemy. Bout every piece of gear we got that sends out a signal. Can it be jammed. Yes it can. Same as any wireless signal. Guys screaming about this sound like everyone who argued against GPS or Night Vision or radios for every man.

    • I don’t think anyone is arguing against this but you’re fooling yourself if you think basic skills won’t suffer. It has happened with marksmanship and land nav.

      You should worry about being tracked. We won’t be fighting insurgents forever. The Ukrainians are learning about brevity on the radio and remoting transmitters. All that “old school” stuff.

  • SAM

    Thermal technology is good stuff. A great tool for any operator. The whole wireless connection thing would create stress for me on an operation, EWO kits often create issues with other technology. Too many times technology has failed when I needed it. Even today, we still have commo issues, incorrect fills, admin troubles with our technology that has been made mission essential. Good tools should never become crutches.

    • Pete Sheppard

      Best comment yet–well said!

  • grunt

    this is nothing and really a waste of $$$$ can’t wait till they really show what’s around the corner. to tell you the truth I ain’t nobody but have the honor to know what’s next!!!!!!! get ready folks!!!! it’s space Rodgers time!!! :-). what are they going to do without rifles??? boy hmmmmm? I know!!!!!! Oh by the way “FADED LINE” by lamb of god, go check it out!!!!!!!!!!!! let’s hear from the sick and crazies from across the ages!!!!!!!!

  • Hill 68

    It’s wut they sed about rocks when they first “saw” them..but it evolution

  • Todd NJ

    YOUR WELCOME! The cabled version is my design stolen by Dauphin Computers in 1995 during the soldier 2000 project.

    Wireless sounds cool but is easily jammable at a variety of ranges, plus uses more battery power and more power sources to fail. There’s no safe unblockable WiFi connection even with encryption. That is why i avoided it and went with new designs with built in components through partial and full designs.
    To bad they dont have armor design that can stop up to rounds from an m60 and you can carry more weight then without the suit. Tested and built back in the early 90s, including faster muscle system…. YES it is a powered suit.

    Lol pissed and proud. I hade build the cabled version of this in Highschool! With HUD display in college and stolen in 1995. Did not kmow anything about legal protections back then.

    But i had built it for cheap decades before they did.