Accuracy on the battlefield depends greatly on the soldier’s ability to swiftly locate and identify the targets. However, this becomes especially difficult during nighttime missions and, in case of low visibility due to unfavorable weather or smoke. In an attempt to enhance the precision of dismounted soldiers, BAE Systems is currently developing a combined night vision and thermal imaging technology that actually improves the troops’ target acquisition abilities, irrespective of the prevailing weather and lighting conditions. Furthermore, the systems allows soldiers to aim their weapons at the enemy, without having to look directly at the target.
Currently, soldiers have to use two separate devices for acquiring and engaging the enemy. The night goggles enables them to accurately locate and identify the targets. Following this, the soldiers need to aim their weapons with the help of thermal targeting. In today’s warfare, where the slightest delay could mean the difference between life and death, having to rely on two different devices would in fact prove detrimental to the soldier’s safety and efficiency. By contrast, BAE ’s newly-devised technology seeks to integrate night vision and thermal targeting into a single sight to be relayed onto the soldier’s goggles. Speaking about the project, Terry Crimmins, general manager of the company’s Survivability and Targeting Solutions, was reported saying:
Supplying the U.S. Army with this new rapid target acquisition technology builds on our heritage as a long-time provider of thermal weapon sights and precision targeting solutions. The ability to conduct surveillance in any light or weather condition increases mission safety and effectiveness.
Part of the U.S. Military’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and Family of Weapon Sight-Individual (ENVG III/FWS-I) program, the project is the result of a five-year contract between BAE Systems and the U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate. Known as the Rapid Target Acquisition (RTA) technology, the system aims at combining night vision and thermal imagining devices into a cheaper, more lightweight and more efficient system.
Central to the technology is a highly-specialized wireless video interface that acts as a connecting link between the weapon-mounted thermal vision and the goggles. Real-time transmission of the thermal imagery to the goggles’ display enhances the soldier’s accuracy in battlefield. The advanced heads-up display allows the troops to aim at the enemy without actually having to raise their weapons to their eyes. Furthermore, the need to carry fewer power and battery sources helps reduce the soldier’s stress and fatigue levels.
Of the $434 million contract, an initial payment of $35 million has already been awarded to BAE Systems. The integrated RTA system is, at present, being produced at the company’s Hudson, New Hampshire division.
Source: BAE Systems