This is another guest blog kindly written by TS over at @skull_collectors_club, a fellow Infanteer who’s unit has been blessed with receiving the first round of the Army’s new KESTREL BNVDs. The only edits I’ve made are noted in italics and mostly only to add the industry standard names for items that the Army has in all it’s wisdom decided to rename to something else. I’m very excited to find out more about these units as time goes on, and as T puts them to operational use later this year. Without any further ado, let’s find out what he said:
First Look: KESTREL BNVD
“We rent the night”
Anyone who has used an HMNVGS (PVS-14) will have more than likely heard the typical crow officer’s ‘we own the night’ speech. Anyone who has done more than one night attack using them will know we most definitely do not.
They’re outdated, more than likely damaged and will normally stop working at the most inconvenient time possible. Many of my soldiers risk taking out the scratched sacrificial lenses to only face 10 rounds with the CQMS moaning about equipment care. They would much prefer to patrol with it stowed at night which really annoys me, as an NVG is designed to aid you not be uncomfortable in. Overuse and poor maintenance has added HMNVGs to the growing list of kit and equipment that my men feel is now falling behind what is on offer across the world.
In a very surprising move, the Army has decided it’s out with the old and in with the new! Kestrels are the British Army’s latest addition to an infantryman’s arsenal. And a foreword from myself is: they are fucking brilliant.
My company were issued the Kestrels along with the Coyote (Clip On Thermal Imager, get it?) attachment which I’ll save for a separate review. The Kestrels feature dual tubes which instantly changes the way we can operate. In the past we have had to deal with only one eye being exposed to the green glare, which after prolonged periods of time can lead to a headache and sickness along with a total lack of depth perception. The Kestrels don’t solve all of these problems but they aren’t half better in all areas.
I won’t go into all the features but they do run white phosphor tubes. Personally this felt so much easier on the eyes while operating at night, whether this was a placebo effect due to feeling ally as fuck with them on my lid, or if there is some actual scientific data to back it up I don’t know, but personally these made me a lot more comfy in the field. Whilst using them during my six weeks on Wessex storm I honestly can’t fault them. For anyone who personally knows me you will know I’m a moaning git and will find anyway possible to slag off issued kit but these are a game changer.
The Kestrels attach onto your helmet in the same way the HMNVGS rhino bracket does although it doesn’t have the lovely bounce you will be used to (thanks to them being issued with the excellent Wilcox L4G24). The Kestrels sit nice and secure and can be moved around to sit nicely over the eyes. Once they have been pulled down the individual eyepieces can be moved independently of each other and folded back into position above your eyes around your eyebrows. This is ideal when you are reading a map and it allows you to keep some situational awareness, its also convenient when your are gripping the boss about his shite route onto the objectives.
Although the L4G24 brackets are sturdy and well built they might not be completely squaddie proof. Many might be familiar with simply forcing their rhino mount down on their NVGs, but the L4G24 has a positive locking mechanism which means you need to press a button in to allow it to fold down. This design is brilliant for securing the mount to avoid that bounce on the face, but not ideal when you are slightly heavy handed and pissed off walking around in the dark to meet a 0400 H hour. This consequently led to a few brackets becoming cracked by soldiers. I have to admit this is a user error and not the mount’s fault, but perhaps this needs to be reviewed before releasing them to the likes of mortar and anti tanks platoon…. just kidding love you mongs.
A lot of Ex Wessex storm is focused around fighting in building with raids onto farm buildings and attacks into Copehill Down. These attacks are usually carnage due to the lack of situational awareness and complete confusion HMNVGs offer you. The Kestrels offer a completely different experience. My first man onto the buildings was constantly able to clearly identify obstacles and threats on the approach outside and inside the building due to how clear they are. My section were able to efficiently and more importantly silently clear buildings due to their enhanced depth perception and clarity (getting past the old ghost walk with HMNVGs while you try and figure out how far away that obstacle is). Often we found ourselves identifying the enemy’s early warning sentry way before he could see us, this offered us the tactical advantage in many situations.
Without boring you all for too much longer telling war stories, these Kestrels are shit hot. Many of the men often referred to them as being able to cheat in attacks, this is due to how advanced they are compared to the previous NVGs. As we become more exposed and use the Kestrels on operations later this year I plan to add to this review and provide more of an insight.
And that’s all from TS! I personally am very excited to see how these optics are distributed throughout the field Army, and may for the first time be forced to say “The Army did a good job”. I won’t lie there’s a tinge of jealousy that soon the guys could be running about at night actually enjoying black attacks, instead of my experiences trying to balance crippling neck pain, the occasional NODsmash and a wobbly J-arm with the need to remain situationally aware.
I’ll be looking forward to hearing how these perform in TS’s upcoming deployment, and if he’s not too busy then there will definitely be a part 2 coming soon with more details and photos.If you’ve got any questions about the Kestrels then you can fire them over to @skull_collectors_club on IG, and all abuse is to be directed to myself @thegeardocrow. Cheers!