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BHR Uses Latest Night Vision Goggle Technology

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050428-08
Release Date: 4/28/2005 12:48:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW) Paula Ludwick, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At sea (NNS) -- Since USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) deployed in support of the global war on terrorism Dec. 6, it has frequently conducted night vision goggle operations while "running dark" to make the ship and aircraft invisible to small boats and help to avoid terrorist threats.

Night vision goggles (NVG) are used any time flight operations are conducted after sunset. They allow pilots, crew members and flight deck personnel to see despite low ambient light. BHR currently uses the latest model, AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles.

"The goggles take whatever light there is and amplifies it," stated Lt. j.g. Ben E. Neal, a pilot with the "Blackjacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21. “If you can't see a visible horizon, you can put on the goggles, and there it is."

Pilots are required to maintain qualifications for night vision goggles. Every 45 days, they must meet specific training requirements.

The personnel on the flight deck that use NVGs are known as landing signalmen enlisted (LSE), and their primary duty is to launch and recover aircraft. They must first become qualified landing signalmen before they can become qualified for night vision goggle operations.

During every NVG evolution, everyone involved must follow safety precautions. There are also other items that must be taken into consideration when putting on night vision goggles.

"Your depth perception is critical because you don't want to be too close to the plane. You want to know how far apart you are from the bird," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Jovan Holmes, an LSE aboard BHR.

The goggles limit depth perception. Pilots have to look around the edges of the goggle lenses and use their instruments to determine depth and distance. It is a challenge to figure out exactly where the ship is at night and to determine in which direction it is headed.

“It’s just like anything else you do - the more you do it, the better you’ll be," said Neal."

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