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DSEi 2011: Thales shows optronics products

12th September 2011 - 09:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Thales has demonstrated advancements in its ISR capabilities through a series of new products and platform upgrades.

At a pre-DSEi briefing on 13 July, Thales introduced the new Orion stabilised panoramic sight, and Video Eyesafe Laser Transceiver (VELT), as well as upgrades to its Catherine and Sophie systems.

The Orion is a new armoured vehicle sighting system, fitted with Thales’ Catherine MP IR camera, David Low, head of the vehicles optronics group at Thales said at the briefing.

In response to soldier demand for multiple functions to be delivered from one fighting vehicle, it has a gigabit ethernet data and video interface that is ‘easily upgradable and easily integrated’, and the company believes this is a market first in terms of being an all-digital sighting system.

‘It is an enhanced capability in terms of its panoramic capability. It is a fully stabilised sighting system, so you have got stabilised line of sight. It provides a full 360o continuous azimuth rotation capability, and is qualified for both tracked and wheeled vehicles,’ Low explained.

‘We have developed a number of fairly sophisticated algorithms and processing units that allow us to do automatic target tracking, automatic target detection, and wide area surveillance.’ The system was selected on 8 July as the primary sight for the Scout SV programme.

‘It provides what we believe to be one of the longest range surveillance and target acquisition capabilities within the vehicle market,’ Low added.

Fitted on the Orion is the new VELT eyesafe laser rangefinder (LRF), which comes in two variants, direct (VELT-D) and indirect (VELT-I).

‘We’ve introduced two variants, one for the other sights, the direct view, which has a direct view optical channel, and also a second colour TV,’ Richard French, head of the sensors product group at Thales, explained.

‘We have two cameras, both wide and narrow, for wide area surveillance and high performance identification.’

Features that distinguish it include: the expansion port for adding other capabilities; the reticle and symbology that is now software generated; the ‘industry leading’ athermal boresight stability; and the high-resolution digital colour video.

French said the system has received ‘significant interest from the US marketplace’.

The Catherine mega pixel (MP) medium wave (MW) IR camera is a ‘fully configurable’ medium wave and lighter addition to the Catherine MP family.

The original Catherine MP long wave camera was launched at DSEi in 2005, and ‘since then we’ve taken the fields of view of that camera from 5o down to 3.5 o in the long wave, and have two long wave cameras on the marketplace’, French commented.

‘We’ve introduced three fields of view to give 10o for wide area surveillance, dropping down to 2.3 degrees, to give us class-leading identification.

‘This medium wave megapixel camera adds to the already established 5o and 15o and 3.5o and 10o degree variants that we have on the marketplace.’

The camera has an extended range, is carried under armour, and has periscopic sight applications.

The Sophie UF2 is a long wave, dismounted soldier, handheld, thermal imaging target locator based on the Sophie UF released some three years ago, with Thales having sold some 10,000 of this type of system worldwide.

The ‘highly successful’ Sophie UF uncooled target locator has been bought by the British Army and is ‘highly successful’, French said, although soldiers still come back to the issue of how to make it lighter and smaller.

‘The message that comes back from the user every time we launch a target locator is “when can I have a smaller and lighter one?”’ French explained.

The new platform has the same functionality as the original system, but has dropped from 3.4kg to 2.4kg through better integration.

It is used for accurate infantry indirect fire control, ISR, enhanced force protection, and day/night operation.

All the Thales systems are at production standard and are available to order.

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