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Volume 19 Articles

Enhancing Vision

Weapon & Surveillance Sights for Dismounted Close Combat

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The roadmap for enhanced Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Engagement continues to develop and become increasingly interesting as a number of nations programmes are now looking at current equipment, refreshing system architectures and looking at what technology developments can be used to refresh and enhance soldier system capability.

The scene is firmly set for the 2017 – 2020 period where significant developments in sensors, electronics and optical technologies will offer lower power, lighter weight and more capable surveillance and sighting system capability through sensor technology evolution and deeper integration with weapons, communications and soldier systems.

The desire to “see more” in many ways, is now the key driver as customers look at existing products and challenge manufacturers to push the boundaries.

Enhanced Identification ranges to support 24hr sharpshooter and sniper engagements is continuing to push product development across the NIR, MWIR and LWIR wavebands as higher resolution, smaller pixel and higher sensitivity sensors are being developed.

The continually growing interest in the Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) waveband region is influencing product development plans.

Multispectral capability is now an area of keen focus as a key enabler to reduced SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) for hand held and weapon mounted systems, which is enabled by a mix of sensor and optical technology development.

Wide Field of View / Panoramic Systems are firmly on the product development map in order to understand the trades in SWaP-C for “seeing more” than conventional systems.

Qioptiq recognises that technology and new product development is vital to the organisation in order to ensure that we are able to offer our customers the highest levels of capability.

In order to ensure mission success, equipment needs to be rugged, reliable and easy to use, and often needs to be developed and deployed within very short timeframes.

Qioptiq continues to develop Weapon Sights & Surveillance Equipment with some significant technology development and product and activity planned for the 2017 – 2020 period.

Qioptiq is known for its extensive design and production capabilities, research and development and its leading-edge innovation. We also benefit from integrated technology development teams and value our strong customer relationships.

In Line Sights – Reducing Burden, Improving Flexibility

Qioptiq has recognised the recent shifting trend to the In Line configuration, which gives the User the ability to retain his conventional optical day sight, rather than replace it, and therefore retain the zero and other MMI settings that the User is familiar with.

With a range of technologies including Image Intensified, Thermal Imaging and a combination of both in the newly developed SAKER fused weapon sight, Qioptiq have products to suit a wide range of user groups and weapon systems.

KITE In Line


Providing the User with an In Line “Clip On” night vision capability, the KITE IN LINE sight is proving very popular with current KITE customers, who want to transition to the In Line configuration and re-use existing KIT components, and new customers who want a light weight, robust and high quality night vision capability for assault rifles and sharpshooter weapons.

KITE In Line is a very compact optical design that can be fitted with a range of Image Intensifier Tubes, with the possibility to utilise customers tubes fitted to other older equipment, such as the Qioptiq KITE sight, which means that a customer can re-utilise existing tubes and therefore reduce acquisition cost of the in line capability.

KITE In Line has been designed to be compatible with a wide range of optical day sights produced by the world’s top manufacturers, and is compatible with both Picatinny and NATO accessory rails.

Since its launch, and building upon the success of the original KITE family, the KITE In Line is proving a popular sight with customers around the world.

DRAGON Compact

Alongside the KITE In Line, the DRAGON Compact Thermal Imager (DCTI) has been proving very popular in a 640x480 17um sensor format, along with other upgrades including a focusable objective lens to enhance close range focus, an Infra-Red Laser Pointer to allow target indication, and on board image capture & storage to support target data collection and dissemination amongst users.

The DCTI 640 is a truly versatile product providing a multi role capability for the User. DCTI can be used as:

- A Clip On Thermal Weapon Sight
- A Stand Alone Thermal Weapon Sight
- A Hand Held Thermal Surveillance Sight

Powered from just 2 AA Lithium batteries, the DCTI will provide over 5 hours of operation.

An intuitive Man Machine Interface (MMI) means the DCTI is easy to operate with all features available to the user via 3 buttons located on the sight unit, or via a remote control unit that can be mounted to the Users weapon system to allow control of the DCTI from a comfortable observation / firing position.

DCTI gives the User a flexible means of providing thermal imaging capability that can be distributed around the squads in order to maximise the effect of thermal imaging alongside conventional night vision.

DCTI is rugged and offers excellent boresight stability when utilised on 5.56mm and 7.62mm assault and sharpshooter rifles and provides the User with the ability to detect man sized targets at ranges over 1000m in all weathers and zero light levels.

DCTI is a truly versatile and rugged multi-role sighting system.

Enhancing Precision Engagement – Sniper System Solutions

Clip on systems for Sharpshooter and Sniper weapon platforms are increasing in popularity as armed forces push to achieve greater target identification ranges during night time and adverse weather conditions. With weapon systems and operators capable of engaging targets at extended ranges during the day, the aim is to match that capability at night, which brings its own challenges on SWaP-C, and the need to leverage on sensor development to support enhanced optical performance.



Part of the Qioptiq DRAGON family of Thermal Sights, the DRAGON Sniper Thermal Imager (DSTI) provides a longer range clip on capability for sharpshooter rifles.

The stand out features of DSTI are the 640x480 17um sensor format, coupled with high performance optics mounted to ensure that system boresight is retained under weapon fire and extreme environmental conditions.

DSTI provides exceptional boresight stability, along with simple to use controls and a remote control capability.

DSTI weighs less than 1kg and is powered from 4 AA lithium batteries which provide 8 hours of continuous operation.

DSTI Is available in a range of colours and can be tailored to suit specific customer weapons and requirements.

DRAGON Handheld

DRAGON Handheld Thermal Imager
DRAGON Handheld Thermal Imager

Supporting the DSTI, the DRAGON Handheld Thermal Imager (DHTI) is configured as a hand held surveillance and target locating binocular which enables observers to work alongside sharpshooters and snipers to observe and locate targets.

DSTI is fitted with the same 640x480 17um sensor, coupled with a low power electronic architecture that supports an integrated Laser Range Finder (LRF), Global Positioning System (GPS), and Digital Magnetic Compass (DMC).

Variable dioptre adjustable binocular eyepieces provide the User with a high resolution image, and weighing 1.2kg, DHTI is a truly lightweight and versatile thermal surveillance asset for any dismounted User team.

The Best Of Both Worlds – Fused Weapon Sight Development

For a number of years the Dismounted Close Combat (DCC) community has been proposing, discussing and developing concepts to enhance sighting system capability through the provision of multiple wavebands in a single sighting system. Commonly referred to by a number of means, including integrated, blended or fused, the objective is to provide the User with more than one sensor so that the target scene can be viewed in different parts of the Electro Magnetic (EM) spectrum simultaneously in order to extract additional information to enable enhanced DRI in a reduced time.

Qioptiq have been at the forefront of blended weapon sight development for the past few years, which have recently culminated in the development and launch of the SAKER blended weapon sight for Assault Rifles and Sharpshooter weapon platforms.


SAKER combines conventional Image Intensifier with uncooled thermal imaging in order to provide the User with a blended image that can be adjusted to suit the target scene conditions.

Qioptiq have spent a significant amount of time and effort developing and refining the control architecture and Man Machine Interface (MMI) in order to ensure that the SAKER sight is simple to operate. Providing an intuitive control architecture that avoids increasing the cognitive burden of the User is paramount for this type of sighting system, as the User will not be able to optimise the benefits if the sight is complex to operate.

A weapon mounted remote control has also been developed which replicates all of the SAKER functionality available on the main unit. The user can attach the remote control to the weapon picatinny or NATO rail in a location that is convenient depending on the weapon system being used.

SAKER delivers a blended capability in an ITAR free package, using a standard 18mm Image Intensifier Tube such as the PHOTONIS INTENS, which means high performance imagery is combined with the sensitive thermal imager.

SAKER has been qualified on a number of weapon platforms, and is currently undergoing assessment and evaluation by a number of NATO countries who are looking to equip their Users with blended sight capability in a lightweight, compact and robust package that is easy to operate.

SAKER is a Clip On sight unit, that has been designed to be compatible wit a wide range of day scopes including fixed power combat optics and variable power sniper scopes, with software configuration available to tailor the sight unit to a particular brand or model.

As with all Qioptiq products, a low power architecture is essential as SAKER is powered from 3 AA Lithium batteries.

SAKER represents the first in a line of “next generation” sighting products to be released from the Qioptiq fold, with a number of product developments scheduled for release during the 2018 – 2020 period to ensure that Qioptiq has leading edge products to offer our customers around the world.

Future Forward – Technology Developments supporting product development. Multispectral Optical Systems – Seeing More

The future is multi spectral, and Qioptiq are preparing.

Qioptiq has continued to move forward on the development of Multispectral Optics with a number of Research & Development projects within our Technology Group looking at specific materials, design concepts, and manufacturing methods to ensure that multispectral sensor developments can be complimented by optical imaging solutions that match sensor capabilities.

Multispectral Optics offer a number of benefits to DCC Users, including the ability to view scene imagery from different parts of the Electromagnetic Spectrum simultaneously using one device, whether that be head mounted, hand held or weapon mounted, along with the ability to reduce mass and signature due to a reduction in optical apertures.

Multi-Aperture Super Resolution Imaging Systems – An Array of Opportunities

Multi-Aperture imaging systems offer the potential to enhance vision systems through a mix of optical and image processing techniques in order to enhance the output image obtained from a number of lower resolution sensors.

By combining a number of lower resolution / lower power / lower cost sensors, the resultant system image can be tailored in order to deliver high resolution and foveal vision output (high resolution in the centre with lower resolution in the outer field of view).

This approach also has Size & Weight benefits as a number of compact sensors can be used to replicate a single lens system of a much longer focal length (and therefore physical size and weight), which has obvious benefits when considering the development of enhance night vision goggles and weapon mounted sighting systems.


As Qioptiq continues to move forward with enhanced sighting systems for dismounted users, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate and partner with technology providers and industrial players around the world in order to bring world class capabilities to national programmes.

Our aim is to ensure that Qioptiq products remain state of the art and provide features and capabilities called for by the User community.

Qioptiq, along with our technology and industry partners are totally committed to reducing the size weight and power burden of our products whilst developing the battle winning equipment within the realistic constraints of technology while maintaining affordability.

We will continue to develop, push forward and challenge the boundaries to ensure we always stay one step ahead.

If you are interested by any of the items discussed in this article, please contact us and we will be happy to support your requests:

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