LONDONDERRY — L3Harris Technologies has provided an initial shipment of 40 new enhanced night vision goggles produced at the L3Harris plant in Londonderry to the U.S. Army as part of a $391 million, three-year contract.
Lynn Bollengier, the vice president of the Warrior Mission Solutions division and the general manager of the Londonderry facility, said the company is proud to have delivered the first shipment just 12 months after the contract was awarded, calling it a “really big accomplishment.”
She said the contract was an urgent requirement for the Army and the speed with which Warrior was able to deliver was due in part to a more streamlined acquisition process in the Army through Army Futures Command and its Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs).
The networked goggles are contracted as part of the Soldier Lethality CFT, Bollengier said.
“In doing that we get a lot more resources and also, I think, a lot more innovative thinking,” she said.
Compared to past acquisition practices, the company was allowed to perform its research and development requirements parallel with getting critical soldier feedback, so it could adjust requirements as needed during the design phase. One of the biggest changes made as a result of soldier feedback was to the user interface, particularly for remotely controlling the weapon site modes.
The first order of 40 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle — Binocular (ENVG- Bs) for $88 million was delivered to the Army’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley in Kansas in early September. The company received two additional orders totalling 7,000 units for $153 million. Moving forward, the company will continue to fulfill its first fielding by early 2020. Bollengier said about 10,000 units will be delivered into 2021.
The new goggles will upgrade the currently-used monocular device broadly used by the Army with a dual-tube white phosphor night vision system with a digital thermal vision channel. All of L3Harris’ next generation goggles are networked to other devices, including the soldier’s weapon, allowing them to view a real-time site feed.
L3Harris calls it the “most advanced night vision goggle ever developed” in a promotional video. The idea is to improve a soldier’s situational awareness, mobility and protection.
Since last year the company added 200 employees total 900 currently. Bollengier said they have about 20 positions open now, including for some engineers. By early next year, they will open up another 50 positions to ramp up their production operations. Those positions will include assembly workers, technicians and support staff, Bollengier said.
This past spring, L3 Technologies merged with Harris Corp., resulting in L3Harris Technologies, based in Melbourne, Fla.
Bollengier said the merger didn’t affect the delivery of the Army’s goggles. But a communications division originally at Harris Corp being brought into the fold has opened up opportunities for further networking, she said.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the communications segment at L3Harris, and the reason for that is it’s exciting to further the networked warfighter strategy,” Bollengier said.
Portable radio technology combined with the networked headset will mean potentially feeding data from outside of the soldier into their goggles, such as live feeds from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), according to Bollengier.
The ENVG-B is just one in a family of networked goggles the company is producing. Variants are being sold to domestic Department of Defense buyers and some international buyers.