Air Force chooses image-intensifier tubes from L3Harris for urgent night-vision upgrades to HH-60 helicopter

Jan. 13, 2020
An image-intensifier tube is a vacuum tube that increases intensity in optical systems like night-vision goggles for use in low-light conditions.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio – U.S. Air Force night-vision experts needed efficient, high-performance image-intensifier tubes for ungently needed upgrades to night-vision goggles for the Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk special operations helicopter. They found their solution from the L3Harris Integrated Land Systems segment in Tempe, Ariz.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $93 million contract to L3Harris last month for high-figure-of-merit green and white image intensifier tubes.

This contract is for image-intensifier tubes for fielding to the Air Force following a combat Air Force urgent operational need for the HH-60 night-vision goggles update for combat search and rescue crews. The Air Force needs 15,424 image-intensifier tubes over the next five years.

The contract also accommodate requests for the high-field-of-merit tubes from other U.S. Department of Defense customers.

Related: Night vision image-intensifier tubes re-invented for the digital age by coupling them to digital cameras with relay lenses

An image-intensifier tube is a vacuum tube that increases the intensity of available light in optical systems like night-vision goggles for use in low-light conditions. They convert light photons into electrons, amplify the electrons, and convert them back into photons for viewing.

High figure of merit means high performance and efficiency of a given device, material, or procedure.

The Air Force Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk is a twin-turboshaft engine helicopter with the Air Force PAVE electronic systems program. The HH-60G Pave Hawk's core mission is to recover special operations personnel under hostile conditions, including combat search and rescue.

Related: Army awards $391.8 million contract to L-3 to build ENVG-B night vision electro-optical binoculars

L3Harris Integrated Land Systems, formerly L3 Insight Technology, specializes in advanced night-vision and electro-optical technology and systems for the U.S. military, federal agencies, public safety and sporting communities, and international markets.

The company provides capabilities and technologies to aim and illuminate devices; image intensifier tubes and systems; thermal imaging systems and detectors; high-performance night-vision and fusion goggles; and precision targeting and wireless connectivity.

On this contract L3Harris will do the work in Tempe, Ariz., and should be finished by December 2025. For more information contact L3Harris Integrated Land Systems online at

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