Monday, May 21, 2012

Wamco Celebrates the 30 Year Anniversary of the First Night Vision Filter

It all started 30 years ago. Following years of development and testing, the night vision goggles were finally being used in airborne missions. It was the start of an amazing technology shift that would ultimately reshape military thinking. “Owning the night” was quickly becoming the new catch phrase, as missions could now run 24/7.

Previously, the majority of cockpit instrument lighting was based on incandescent technology, and Wamco had already been supporting that market with Oshino lamps for the 10 years prior. Mike Matthews, Wamco’s original founder and current CEO, was already well-known and respected within the industry for the quality of his product and service.

At the time, the joint service committee (Air Force, Army and Navy) had been formed and tasked to develop a common lighting specification with the technical support of the Naval Air Development Center (NADC). Short on efficient filtering technologies and materials for the filtering of incandescent sources, the committee highly considered “cold” sources such as electroluminescent technology. Mike Matthews soon took on the development of filtering material for the purpose of filtering incandescent light sources for NVG compatibility.

Familiar with Oshino Lamps products, Claude Gaudette from Marconi, Canada, had been introduced to Wamco not long before this historical milestone. In a short period of time, mutual appreciation grew and personal compatibilities unfolded. Claude joined Wamco and immediately completed the development of the first night vision filter for incandescent lamps. Major Chet Pieroway, of CPC, then the US Air force joint service committee chair, remembers comparing the performance of two panels, and his response was, “This electroluminescent panel is by far the best NVIS panel I have ever seen!” This was before being told that it was the first incandescent night vision compatible panel. Soon after, CMC decided to integrate the newly developed composite filter in a Black Hawk instrument.

History was made, and Wamco’s filtering technology paved the way for the retention of incandescent lighting in NVG cockpits. The performance of these products demonstrated the feasibility of the compatibility criteria defined by Ferd Reitz’s group at NADC, the writer of the MIL-L-XXXXX, which became MIL-L-85762 once completed.

Since then, 100,000 cockpit instruments have been retrofitted and manufactured using Wamco’s technologies. Over the years, we have seen the birth of MIL-L-85762 and MIL-STD-3009. Wamco is proud to be a part of the night vision technological transition, and the celebration of this historical event, 30 years ago.

No comments: