Night Vision Intensifier Tube Generation Classification

Developed in 1960’s
Vacuum Tube Technology
Full Moon Operation
Amplification: 1,000
Operating Life: 2,000 Hours

Developed in 1970’s
First Microchannel Plate (MCP) Application
One-Quarter Moon Operation
Amplification: 20,000
Operating Life: 2,500 Hours

Developed in 1990’s
Improved MCP & Photocathode
Starlight Operation
Amplification: 40,000
Operating Life: 10,000 Hours

Expected Operating Life (in hours)

Beyond outperforming all previous technologies, corresponding improvements in reliability have been equally dramatic. GEN III intensifiers have a useful operating life of 10,000+ hours, making tube replacement virtually unnecessary. The intensifier tube normally represents 75% of the overall system cost.

Any night vision intensifier requires some ambient light to operate effectively. The degree of night illumination necessary is a function of the technology employed. Minimum operating light levels for each generation is depicted above. The distance in meters (m) is the range at which a 6′ man can be seen.