Chapter 1 - Introduction

C1.1. Purpose. The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for government-to-government transfers of Night Vision Devices (NVDs).

C1.2. Definition. NVDs are listed in Category XII(c) of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) Part 121 U.S. Munitions List (USML), and are designated as sensitive, unclassified Significant Military Equipment (SME). For the purposes of this handbook, NVDs fall into two categories: man-portable devices and platform-mounted systems. Both categories may incorporate image intensification (I2), infrared (IR), thermal, or sensor-fused technologies.

C1.3. Background.

C1.3.1. Sensitivity about the proliferation of night vision technology and the risk of loss, theft, misuse, or unauthorized transfer necessitates special procedures for the case-by-case review of every transfer. During this review, regardless of purchaser or level of technology being offered, the U.S. Government (USG) must determine whether the transfer is in the national interest and ensure that the receiver will enforce adequate protective measures.

C1.3.2. The Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) has overall responsibility for DoD NVD export policy and requires the case-by-case review of all requests for the international transfer of man-portable NVDs through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Acquisition Community, Joint Staff (JS), Military Departments (MILDEPs), Implementing Agencies (IAs), Combatant Commands (CCMDs), Country Teams (CTs), and Security Cooperation Organizations (SCOs) all contribute to the review process.

C1.3.2.1. DTSA has issued the DoD NVD release guidelines in the Night Vision Export Policy Implementation Guidance (NVEPIG) (Reference (b)). This guidance defines the performance parameters for which DTSA has a presumption of approval for NVDs exported to authorized end-users.

C1.3.3. DSCA has overall responsibility for processing government-to-government transfer requests for man-portable NVDs. This DSCA handbook provides the guidance, procedures, and requirements for submitting NVD requests to DTSA, the JS, and (USD)AT&L for case-by-case review.

C1.4. NVD Transfer Requirements.

C1.4.1. DoD (DTSA, JS, (USD)AT&L) conducts a case-by-case review prior to the international transfer of all man-portable I2 and Thermal/IR NVDs. Requests for Price and Availability (P&A) data must also go through the case-by-case review process.

C1.4.1.1. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will review all NVD requests for performance parameters exceeding the guidance in the NVEPIG. The JS is responsible for coordinating these NVD requests with SOCOM.

C1.4.1.2. I2 tubes ordered as spare or replacements parts also require a case-by-case review except when replacing defective or damaged tubes returned to the USG on a direct exchange or repair and return basis.

C1.4.1.3. All NVDs, to include additional I2 tubes and platform mounted systems, must be on Defined Order lines on the LOA. SAMM Section C5. prohibits providing NVDs and spare or replacement I2 tubes on Blanket Order cases or lines because of their ITAR designation as sensitive, unclassified, SME. Individual NVD spare parts, e.g., harness, eye piece, lens cover, are not required to be on Defined Order lines.

C1.4.1.4. Foreign students attending U.S. courses that include man-portable night vision training must receive DoD approval prior to using U.S. performance level night vision equipment. IAs may submit on an annual basis the course names, description of training, dates, locations, number of students by country attending, and U.S. equipment type and capability to be used for training to DSCA Weapons Division to initiate the DoD review process.

C1.4.2. The NVEPIG provides performance parameter guidelines for man-portable I2 NVDs, while DTSA or the IA's export policy provides the performance parameters for thermal/IR NVDs. As a condition of the transfer, DTSA may require additional capability restrictions or provisos for both I2 and thermal/IR NVDs based on unsatisfactory assessments of the criteria in Section C1.4.7.4.

C1.4.3. DoD will not transfer NVDs from DoD stock without an accompanying data sheet verifying that the technical capabilities of the I2 tubes do not exceed export guidelines. The IA ensures compliance with this requirement.

C1.4.4. Man-portable NVDs.

C1.4.4.1. For the purposes of this handbook, man-portable devices are those that meet the following criteria:

  • Worn on the head or helmet, e.g., goggles, monoculars;

  • Mounted on a small-arms weapon, e.g., weapon sights, scopes; or

  • Hand-held binoculars or monoculars.

C1.4.4.2. Man-portable NVDs require either a Letter of Request (LOR) Advisory (LOR-A) or Exception to Policy (ETP) request prior to transfer. The review process and application of the NVEPIG will determine the capability the customer receives.

C1.4.4.3. Examples of man-portable NVDs include (not inclusive):

  • AN/PVS-7, AN/PVS-14, GPNVG-18, AN/PVS-23

  • AN/AVS-6, AN/AVS-9, PNVG

  • AN/PVS-15, AN/PVS-31

  • AN/PAS-13, AN/PAS-23, AN/PAS-24

  • AN/PVS-12, AN/PVS-22, AN/PVS-27, MUNS

  • Recon V Binocular, Recon BN10, PhantomIR.

C1.4.5. Platform-mounted Systems.

C1.4.5.1. For the purposes of this handbook, platform-mounted NVDs are those that meet one of the following criteria:

  • Not man-portable;

  • Require an external power supply; or

  • Require integration into another system.

C1.4.5.2. Platform-mounted systems do not require an LOR-A or ETP request prior to transfer. The IAs will limit the capability for such systems by applying their policy for export variants and export parameters.

C1.4.5.3. Examples of platform-mounted systems include (not inclusive):

  • Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) turret on aircraft/ship/boat, e.g., Star SAFIRE, BRITE Star, Talon, SeaFLIR


  • MTADS/PNVS, Driver Vision Enhancer

  • AN/UAS-12A TOW night sight, Javelin Command Launch Unit

C1.4.6. This handbook does not apply to laser pointers or foreign I2 NVDs. Laser pointers and foreign I2 NVDs do not require an LOR-A or an ETP request.

C1.4.7. Presumption of Approval.

C1.4.7.1. DTSA established a presumption of approval for end-users in three categories: bona fide national security agencies, national law enforcement agencies, and search and rescue units. National law enforcement is defined as a federal-level agency. Release to these end-users must still undergo the review process but has a presumption of approval for requests of auto-gated I2 NVDs when the performance parameters are within the guidelines of the NVEPIG.

C1.4.7.2. DTSA, the JS, and (USD)AT&L will evaluate NVD requests from end-users not in one of the three categories in Section C1.4.7.1., e.g., municipal police, State or Provincial law enforcement agencies, on a case-by-case basis. The standard I2 release parameters for this category of end-users are non-auto-gated NVDs with a Figure of Merit (FoM) not to exceed 1400 for ground and 1600 for aviation end-use. The halo for these NVDs will be no smaller than 0.85 mm. With sufficient justification, DTSA may approve these end-users for auto-gated or higher performance NVDs.

C1.4.7.3. DTSA will approve transfers of I2 NVDs for performance exceeding that in the NVEPIG only in cases with extraordinary justification and if the receiving country/end-user has a positive record of end-use verified by meeting the criteria in Section C1.4.7.4.

C1.4.7.4. DoD established a presumption of approval dependent upon the end-user having a positive record of protecting U.S. technology. Conversely, DoD may deny the transfer for lack of cooperation or a negative assessment in any area or, if the risk is manageable with Enhanced End-Use Monitoring (EEUM) (see SAMM Section C8.4.), recommend an FMS-only transfer until the issue is resolved to the U.S. Government's satisfaction. The DSCA memorandum will indicate EUM concurrence/non-concurrence for the reviewers' consideration. All of the following criteria must have positive or satisfactory assessments before the presumption of approval applies.

  • NVD technology security plan/NVD control plan.

  • End-use assurances executed as appropriate for the method of acquisition.

  • Intelligence assessments of the likelihood of diversion of any U.S. technology are low or mitigated by the following:

    • Effective processes for ensuring appropriate use, accountability, and protection of any U.S. technology;

    • Compliance with requirements to report lost, stolen, or destroyed NVDs;

    • Positive results from in-country checks by USG personnel; and

    • Positive results from Golden Sentry Compliance Assessment Visits (CAV) or Blue Lantern visits.

C1.4.8. LOR-A.

C1.4.8.1. DSCA Weapons Division will submit an LOR-A to DTSA, the JS, and (USD)AT&L for review when the request is for:

  • Subsequent transfer of NVD capability to the country and end-user; and

  • Performance parameters that are within or below the NVEPIG guidelines, i.e., presumption of approval per criteria in the NVEPIG.

C1.4.8.2. DTSA, JS, and (USD)AT&L have 10 working days to object to the transfer. If more time is needed, the reviewers will notify DSCA Weapons, and have an additional 5 working days to complete the review.

C1.4.9. ETP Request.

C1.4.9.1. DSCA Weapons Division will submit an ETP request to DTSA, the JS, and (USD)AT&L for review when it is for:

  • First introduction of NVD capability to the country or end-user;

  • Performance parameters that are higher than NVEPIG guidelines;

  • End-users that are not specified in Section C1.4.7.1., or

  • End-users that do not meet the positive record of protection as stated in Section C1.4.7.4.

C1.4.9.2. DTSA, JS, and (USD)AT&L will normally complete the review within 10 working days. However, if they require additional time, the reviewers will notify DSCA Weapons Division to enable case processing timeline adjustments.

C1.4.10. End-User. For purposes of determining whether to submit an LOR-A or ETP request based on the end-user within a country, the following are examples of different end-users, and the first introduction to each requires an ETP request:

  • Ministry of Defense vs. National Law Enforcement;

  • Army vs. Navy vs. Air Force;

  • Standard military unit vs. Special Operations unit;

  • Aviation vs. ground use; and

  • I2 vs Thermal vs Fusion.

C1.4.11. Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) Fulfillment.

C1.4.11.1. Unless the purchaser requests otherwise in writing, the IA will contract for auto-gated I2 that meet U.S. military specifications (MILSPEC) for all customer requests for man-portable I2 NVDs and I2 tubes (see SAMM Section C4.4.14.) The only exception or deviation from MILSPEC will be to meet:

  • Export limits of the DoD NVEPIG;

  • Provisos that DTSA, JS, or (USD)AT&L may impose during the review process;

  • Specific, associated specifications that must change in order to meet these limits or provisos.

C1.4.11.2. In certain circumstances, e.g., cost, budget, compatibility, lower tier units, a country may wish to purchase non-U.S. MILSPEC or commercial variant NVDs. If this is the customer's intent, the SCO must ensure the country states so in the LOR. This requirement is intended to address issues that resulted in dissatisfaction when the purchaser received NVDs with less capability than anticipated and less than DoD intended.

C1.4.12. Building Partnership Capacity (BPC) and other Special Programs. DTSA, the JS, and (USD)AT&L conduct case-by-case reviews of NVD transfer requests in support of BPC and Special Programs, e.g., Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), Coalition Readiness Support Program (CRSP), Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The USD(P)/CCMD/SCO will develop the requirements and submit the appropriate documents as part of the proposal. The supporting documentation requirements for these pseudo-LOA NVD transfers are the same as for country requests.