Thales Unveils New Generation of Optronic Devices
With demand worldwide on the rise from armies for sensors that enhance situational awareness on the front line, Thales France has launched two new EO devices in its Sophie family.
The Nellie NVG (pictured above) and Optima camera/target locator were unveiled in a 26 June webinar. Company officials described these systems as a new generation of sensors with enhanced capabilities.
‘We put inside these products the state-of-the-art technologies in order to allow the user to face the challenges of the new operational paradigm and high-intensity combat,’ explained Pascal Secretin, Thales’ product director for imagers and sensors.
Optima is an IR camera/target locator designed for platoon leaders that can be operated by day and at night.
Thales product manager Pierre-Yves Guinet explained that this device was designed to ensure data protection, adding: ‘We are trying to provide the best of the new technology to our soldiers.’
Optima coordinates photo and video sharing and provides secure access that only allows use of the camera.
Authentication of shared data warns Optima users if an enemy attempts to manipulate data. In addition, software on the device provides integrity checks to protect against cyber threats; Guinet claimed it is ‘impossible for a cybercriminal to steal the information stored in the camera’.
Optima provides as standard a direct view optics (DVO) channel that augments the ability to detect and identify the enemy in daylight, as well as enhancing the range of observation of the camera.
‘Similar devices available in the market only have a TV channel, which the range of observation is typically 2km. Besides the TV channel, Optima also has the DVO, which the range is 7km,’ Guinet explained.
The decision to add the DVO increased the overall size of Optima. Even so, Secretin noted it weighs 2.5kg and remains lighter in weight than similar devices available in the market and provides better images in daylight conditions.
Uncooled technology in the device generates benefits at long ranges compared with older cooled systems, including reliability, stealth and quick start.
‘It allows the faster access to its images and produces no “noise”, which gives the uset two advantages: reactivity and furtivity,’ Guinet stressed.
Optima is designed to give the user a wider FOV (up to 22°) than predecessor devices (12° to 13°), which allows this target locator detecting threats sooner.
Nellie is designed for use by ground forces and in land vehicles. It is an ultra-lightweight NVG that provides greater situational awareness and higher resolution than legacy systems, according to Thales.
Secretin claimed that the ruggedised mechanical design does not sacrifice stability and comfort, as Nellie weighs 460g. The NVG functions while immersed in water and it can operate in night mode with a lateral flip-up.
He added that the new NVG also has a wider FOV (47°) than any other device on the market, giving ‘the widest possible capabilities’ and increasing overall soldier situational awareness.
‘We have the best NVG existing in the market at this moment,’ Secretin argued.
Rémi De Besombes, services marketing manager at Thales, explained that both Optima and Nellie were developed using costumers feedback.
‘They have been designed in order to reduce the support cost, to improve the lifecycle of the equipment also to preserve its performance,’ he explained, adding that Thales is working to reduce intervention times for maintenance and repair of these devices.