N.H. company produces key military gear

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI U.S. Navy Capt. David Padula, left, accepts the 500th Night Vision Cueing and Display Systems (NVCD) unit from Merrimack’s Elbit Systems of America’s Director of NVCD Programs Martin Cielinski during a Tuesday ceremony in Merrimack. This piece of equipment enhances the safety and effectiveness of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators.

MERRIMACK – “Thank you for making a device that made my safety increase,” U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Peter Zettel told officials during a Tuesday ceremony at Elbit Systems of America in Merrimack, which commemorated the 500th delivery of the Night Vision Cueing and Display System.

Elbit Systems, Rockwell Collins and other firms collaborated to design the helmet-mounted Night Vision Cueing & Displays (NVCDs). These devices provide Navy and Marine Corps aviators the capability to see flight and weapon symbols with an information display through their night-vision goggles. They are designed to enhance both the safety and effectiveness of warfighters.

With NCVD’s, pilots can navigate the skies in high-threat environments and meet their operational needs more successfully.

Navy Capt. David Padula, who accepted the NVCD system on behalf of the government, thanked all involved in producing the product.

“The capability that is provided for our aviators is unprecedented,” Padula told the audience. “We fight our wars today different from an aviation perspective because of this system, the system you all had a very, very intimate part of.”

Zettel then gave the audience a recap of his personal experiences with the NVCD by giving members a scenario to consider. He told those in the audience to imagine they were sitting on a flight, which was about 5-10 minutes away from landing.

“You can see the ground clearly. I’m in the seat next you. I’m going to hand you a black and white photograph of a red truck and I’m going to say that truck is 45 degrees off your nose, about five miles away, find it,” Zettel said. “That is the skill set we had to learn in order to go from our system’s small system display to find it.”

Now, with the help of the NVCD, response time is much faster. Zettel told those in the audience to take his example and imagine at night, how long it could take.

“It’s almost impossible,” Zettel said. “Now, instead of a picture and using that skill set, (the NVCD) tells me GPS coordinates. I put it in my system, display my sensors to it and I immediately get an arrow saying it’s over there and I look and there’s a diamond on it.”

“That’s a big deal. It takes a task that could take minutes and brings it down to seconds,” he added.

Because of those seconds, Zettel or anyone else who uses the NVCD will get extra time to focus on other things. This, in theory, should help them make better decisions.

Zettel said this greatly improves situational awareness. If those on the ground can give him their locations, Zettel said he would also be able to use their locations as points of reference. He can then find things around them or warn them of things coming toward them.

“(NVCD) has great capability in its own design. It literally is a game changer… the threat has to think differently,” Zettel said.

During the ceremony, the audience also got a chance to hear from representatives of the industry team and Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs Taylor Caswell.

The ceremony concluded with Padula accepting the 500th NVCD from Elbit Systems.

Grace Pecci may be contacted at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.