Gen 2 and Gen 3 Night Vision: What Are the Differences?

Gen 3 night vision goggles are the best in aviation night vision technology today.

Night vision technology has increased by leaps and bounds since its invention. Currently, the best night vision variation in the market is the Gen 3 night vision goggles.

All night vision devices under this generation make use of cutting-edge night vision tech. The United States Military and Special Forces utilize this device in some of their most advanced night flight missions.

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In today’s post, let’s take a closer look at Gen 3 night vision. We’ll also make a comparison of the three distinct categories or generations of night vision goggles.

How Are the Generations of NVG’s Classified?

The distinct generations of night vision devices are primarily defined by their image intensifier tubes. In technical terms, the image intensifier tube is the vacuum-packed tube that has the photocathode, the micro-channel plate, and the phosphor screen, which provides the actual night vision functionalities.

Simply put, the image intensifier tube is what gives the goggles the night vision capacity.

Quick History of Night Vision Technology

This type of technology originated in the early 1960s when the first generation of night vision devices was invented. Generation 1 night vision devices are still available on the market today.

However, these devices don’t really come close to the functionality, range, versatility, and resolution of the newer generations.

Generation 1 night vision devices generally rely on the fitted IR illuminators – think of a flashlight, but it’s invisible to the naked eye. Nevertheless, there’s a market for them because of their affordability.

Generations 2 and 3 night vision technology represent a massive leap forward in terms of quality and night vision capabilities from Gen 1. Gen 2 is closer in performance and features to Gen 3 night vision technology than Gen 1.

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at the differences between Gen 2 and Gen 3 night vision devices.

Gen 2 Night Vision Goggles

This generation of night vision tech displays a bright and clean image with decent resolution. It also provides a practical 200-yard scope (depending on what model you’re using.)

Generation 2 night vision goggles are more commonly utilized for professional purposes and functions, such as law enforcement operations. This generation doesn’t rely on any IR illuminator, which allows them to work passively.

Night flying presents many challenges.

They can provide a full view of the field, without compromising the image on the viewing area, which is a common issue with the Gen 1 night vision tech.

Generation 2 night vision goggles are also not likely to distort the image because of the presence of bright lights; this issue is also called “blooming,” an issue with Gen 1 night vision devices.

As for life expectancy, you can utilize Gen 2 devices for up to 5,000 hours of active use.

Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles

This generation of night vision technology is the best on the market today. Gen 3 night vision has the most excellent resolution quality with the brightest and cleanest images.

They won’t let you down even in low-light conditions. And if you’re after durability and reliability, Generation 3 is what you’re looking for.

As for the range, you can cover a minimum of 300 yards with this generation of night vision, depending on the specific model. You don’t need an IR illuminator when using Gen 3, which makes it ideal for special covert missions.

You can 10,000+ working hours from Gen 3 night vision goggles.

Expect to use Gen 3 night vision devices up to 10,000 hours and more.

Now that we’ve talked about the fundamental differences between Generations 2 and 3, there are further types of night vision devices available.

Here are a few essential ones you need to know:

Gen 3 Aviation Green Phosphor Night Vision Goggles

This is the standard green and black imagery you’d come to expect from night vision devices.

White -Phosphor Technology

This technology can produce black and white figures, rather than the more commonly known green and black images associated with night vision.

Gen 3 white-phosphor technology is increasingly becoming widely used among military and law enforcement operations.

While this can be costlier than the standard night vision tech, you’re getting more advanced and natural-looking images, which can provide better contrast in certain situations.

Gen 3 NVG Pinnacle® Tube Development

Today, the Pinnacle® tube is regarded as the highest-performing Gen 3 night vision upgrade available on the market. The image intensifier tubes used in this variety is considered to be in the apex level of all image intensifier tubes.

The US Military currently uses Gen 3 NVG Pinnacle, and it can also be available for commercial use. However, it can only be procured from a certified and qualified supplier such as Night Flight Concepts.