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Image Intensification Night Vision Sights

British military units use a number of image intensification (II) night vision sights mounted on weapon systems for both target engagement and surveillance. These devices work by amplifying ambient light to allow for vision in low light conditions. Because of there need for ambient light to function, these devices are not effective in complete darkness.

Common Weapon Sight (CWS)

The Common Weapon Sight (CWS) is the British military designation for the KITE sight, an image-intensification night vision scope manufactured by Qioptiq (formerly Pilkington).

The CWS is designed for short to medium range use and can be mounted on various weapons such as the SA80A2/A3 rifle and light machine gun (LMG).

KITE sight
A soldier with a 4/73 Sphyx Battery Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) patrol looks through the CWS mounted on his SA80A2 rifle. Note the Close Quarter Battlesight (CQB) 1x magnification red dot sight mounted atop the CWS.
image by Stuart A Hill AMS  | © UK MOD / Crown Copyright 2017
Used under Open Government Licence

The CWS / KITE features a 4x magnification and 9 degree field of view. It can identify a standing man target out to 500m under starlight, although its effective engagement range is closer to 200 meters. While normally mounted on a weapon, the CWS can also be used as a hand-held surveillance tool.

CWS Specs

  • Magnification: x4
  • Field of View: 9°
  • Weight: 1000g (Excluding Weapon bracket and batteries
  • Length: 210mm
  • Height: 80mm
  • Width: 105mm
  • Power Supply: 2 x 1.5V AA batteries
  • Eyepiece Dioptre: Fixed at -1±0.35 dioptre, adjustable at +2 -6.00 dioptre
  • Focus Range: 15m to infinity
  • Eye Relief: 30mm 
  • Range (typical): Recognition of standing man at 500M in starlight (10-3) LUX.


The big brother of the CWS, the MAXIKITE 2 is designed for medium to long range engagements and for mounting on General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) and Heavy Machine Guns (HMG). It can also be mounted on the L86A2 LSW, in the sharpshooter role.

A member of 4 Mechanised Brigade’s Brigade Reconnaissance Force looks through a MAXIKITE night scope as he fires a HMG mounted on a Jackal vehicle during pre-deployment training, 2009.
image by Sgt Mike Fletcher RLC  | © UK MOD / Crown Copyright 2009
Used under Open Government Licence

The sight is capable of recognising a standing man out to 750 meters under starlight. The system runs for 70 hours of continous use on 2 1.5v AA batteries.

Like the CWS, the Maxikite 2 is augmented with a CQB red dot scope.

Maxikite 2 Specs

  • Magnification: x6 Field of View: 5.5°
  • Weight: 1450g (Excluding Weapon bracket and batteries)
  • Length: 260mm
  • Height: 95mm
  • Width: 100mm
  • Power Supply: 2 x 1.5V AA Batteries
  • Eyepiece dioptre: Fixed: -1 ±0.35 dioptre
  • Adjustable: +2 -6 dioptre
  • Focus Range: 25mm to infinity
  • Eye Relief: 30mm
  • Range (typical): Recognition of standing man at 750m in starlight (10-3)LUX.
  • Supplied with: Transit case, carrying pouch, lens cloth, user handbook, spare batteries, ND Filter and zeroing screwdriver.

Magnum Universal Night Sight (MUNS)

The MilSight S135 Magnum Universal Night Sight (MUNS) is a 'clip on' image intensification scope that mounts in tandem with a weapon's existing daylight optics to provide low-light vision capability. It can mount on any sufficently long enough MIL-STD-1913 rail system. In British military use it is typically used with the L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle.

MUNS fitted to L129A1 Sharshooter rifle
A member of a sniper team fires a L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle fitted with a MUNS mounted in tandem with its ACOG 6x48 day scope.
image by Cpl Lee 'Matty' Matthews  | © UK MOD / Crown Copyright 2016
Used under Open Government Licence

MilSight S135 MUNS Specs

  • Magnification Unity
  • Optimum Dayscope Magnification 3X to 20X
  • Focus Range 15 m to Infinity
  • Field of View 10°
  • Tube Type Gen III, Autogated
  • Tube Color Green Phosphor
  • Tube Performance 1800 FOM Typical
  • Resolution 64 Line Pair
  • Accuracy Factory Aligned to 1 MOA or Better
  • Adjustments None
  • Repeatability Within 1 MOA
  • Shock Mitigation System™ (SMS™) .50 Caliber BMG Qualified
  • Operating Temperature -30° to +60° C
  • Submersion 33 ft.
  • Interface (to MIL-STD 1913) LaRue Adjustable Double Locking Lever Mount
  • Interface Double Locking Levers (MIL-STD 1913, Picatinny Rail)
  • Length 8.7 in
  • Weight (w/o batteries) 50 oz
  • Max Height Above Rail 3.75 in
  • Controls On/Off/Gain, Focus
  • Power 2 AA
  • Objective Lens Focal Length 92 mm
  • Objective Lens f/Number f/1.0
  • Output Optic Exit Pupil Diameter 40 mm
  • Tube Color Green or White Phosphor
  • Available FOM* 2000, 2200, >2200
  • Resolution 72 line pair/ mm

SIMRAD Night Vision Scopes

The SIMRAD range of night vison scopes are mounted atop the day scope of a sniper rifle (L96, L118, L115). The image from the SIMRAD's image intensifying tube is directed through a periscope that positions in front of the day scope. Models employed by British forces have included the K203D and K250.

SIMRAD night vision scope
SIMRAD KN200 and KN250 scopes mounted on Barrett anti-material rifles.
image: Rheinmetall Defence



  • Magnification 1x
  • Focus Range 25 m to Infinity
  • Field of View 10°
  • Batteries 2 x 1.5V AA cells
  • Battery life >80h at 20°C
  • Weight (incl. brackets and batteries) 1kg
  • Dimensions (w x h x l) 127 x 192 x 220mm
  • Operating temperature –40°C to +50°C
  • Storing temperature –40°C to +65°C
  • Repeatability Within 1 MOA


  • Magnification 1x
  • Focus Range 25 m to Infinity
  • Field of View 12°
  • Batteries 2 x 1.5V AA cells
  • Battery life >80h at 20°C
  • Weight (incl. brackets and batteries) 1kg
  • Dimensions (w x h x l) 107 x 142 x 187mm
  • Operating temperature –40°C to +50°C
  • Storing temperature –40°C to +65°C
  • Repeatability Within 1 MOA

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