EO/IR Special Report: Asian armies sensitive to vehicle EO/IR needs
Demand for vehicle-based EO/IR systems for surveillance and observation operations is increasing rapidly across the Asia-Pacific region.
Following North America, the region is anticipated to be the fastest growing market for such technology, spending up to $38.9 billion collectively on enhanced ISR capabilities over the next decade.
Countries such as China, Indonesia and Singapore have embarked on efforts to increase their defence spending and invest in modernising their military capabilities.
In particular, programmes to upgrade legacy armoured vehicles with advanced EO/IR systems have been common as armies strive to improve the accuracy of long-range missile systems and boost reconnaissance abilities.
The changing nature of the threat faced by militaries in Asia-Pacific has spawned new requirements, in particular advanced EO/IR cameras fitted to armoured vehicles and light, highly mobile vehicles, such as the Singapore Army’s Spider Light Strike Vehicle, produced by ST Kinetics.
ST Kinetics also displayed the prototype of its Next Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) at this year's Singapore Airshow, ahead of initial deliveries to the Singapore Army in 2019. The vehicle, which the company claims to be ‘the world’s first fully digitised AFV', features a 360° surveillance system and advanced EO/IR sensors.
The army has also integrated the Commander’s Open Architecture Panoramic Sight (COAPS) onto a number of its Leopard 2 MBTs, providing the vehicles with modern thermal imagers and day/night CCD cameras.
Integrating modern EO/IR sensors enhances the ability of the crew operating new or legacy military vehicles to detect, recognise, identify, and ultimately engage targets, at greater distances.
Since announcing its intention of doubling the number of troops it commits to UN peacekeeping operations in 2015, Indonesia has also focused on upgrading and modernising its armoured vehicle fleet, with orders for upgraded Leopard 2 MBTs and 42 Marder 1A3 IFVs.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government has been taking delivery of its fleet of new AV8 Gempita IFVs. manufactured by DefTech, some variants integrate an FNSS Sharpshooter one-man turret that features day/night observation cameras which provide the gunner with 360° situation awareness and accurate targeting.
As regional tensions have heightened, Taiwan has boosted its efforts to enhance its land, sea and air ISR capabilities. The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) has developed a range of EO/IR payloads, including the Electro-Optical Surveillance System (EOSS) and the Panoramic Vehicle Imaging System.
In October 2017, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense ordered 285 30mm cannons from Orbital ATK to be installed on the army’s Clouded Leopard 8x8 IFVs. The cannons are integrated with CCD cameras offering the crew enhanced situation awareness and accuracy.
A significant amount of market growth is coming from China, where Norinco revealed its new armoured vehicle, the VN17, in August 2017. The vehicle boasts a wide range of payloads, including advanced EO/IR sensors and an active protection system.