The night vision device (NVD) recovered from terrorists who struck in Dinanagar, Gurdaspur on July 27 was lost by US troops on a battlefield in Afghanistan in early 2010.
The identification was done after India made an official request last month to Pentagon, through the Indian military attaché in Washington DC, along with a photograph and the external serial number of the NVD.
Sources told The Indian Express that intelligence officials from Delhi had accompanied a US defence technician to the forensic laboratory in Chandigarh mid-August where he dismantled the NVD to note the authoritative number on the image intensifier inside the device. Since the case has not been handed over to the National Investigation Agency, the Punjab police are in possession of the device.
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Pentagon had told Indian officials that specialist help will be needed to disassemble the NVD, and get access to the descriptive number engraved on the image intensifier tube. Pentagon had also said that while the external serial number on the body of the NVD was indicative of the equipment being of US military origin, only the authoritative number on the image intensifier would confirm the authenticity, origin and last known usage of the device — that was the information sought from Pentagon by India.
Sources said Pentagon confirmed that the device used by terrorists in Gurdaspur was an AN/PVS-14 NVD, which is in the inventory of US armed forces.
Designed by ITT Corporation in 2000, the AN/PVS-14 NVD is a rugged device with a range of up to 350 metres at night. It is mostly used as a hands-free device by mounting on the head, and is likely to have helped the terrorists in detecting and avoiding security forces at night.
Intelligence sources said that the Pentagon took about three weeks to conduct the trackback of the device, which found that the NVD was reported lost by its soldiers on a battlefield in Afghanistan in early 2010.
Barring its closest NATO allies, the US government does not sell AN/PVS-14 NVD to any other country. The US government has long believed that military equipment lost by its soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are often sold in the open market, including on e-commerce sites like eBay. In the case of NVD used at Gurdaspur, sources said, the device was evidently bought by terrorists from the black market, and not from open sources where it can be easily tracked.