Evolving technology enhances target location &
By Steve Rickard, Business Development Director – Land Systems, Excelitas Qioptiq
With a number of technologies emerging and maturing up the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) ladder, the roadmap for intelligent and integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (VAS) is becoming interesting and exciting. The scene is firmly set for the 2020 – 2030 period which will introduce significant enhancements in sighting system capability through the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and integration between Dismounted Users and autonomous systems covering all air, sea and land domains. The close co-operation between man and machine has the potential to revolutionise the “visual intelligence” capabilities of small dismounted team operating in the complex battlespace.
Excelitas, through its rich Qioptiq heritage is a world leader in the design, development and deployment of Dismounted User VAS solutions covering Night Vision, Thermal and more recently, Fused and Digitally Integrated technologies, and is continuing the Journey to incorporate leading edge digitization and Intelligence into new and emerging products.
Working closely with Government R&D communities and Users during the New Product Introduction (NPI) process ensures that an appropriate trade of Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) can be carried out, whilst ensuring that system architectures remain open enough for additional layered capability builds in the future.
Focusing on User “Touch Points” ensures product solutions are integrated well with the wider system elements including weapons / sighting and C4I systems, as well as being intuitive and easy to use.
DRAGON H – Detecting Treats, Locating Targets and Connecting Users
Excelitas has developed a new member for the DRAGON family of VAS products. DRAGON-H is the latest in the DRAGON range of uncooled thermal imagers from Excelitas. Providing a 24hour Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability, DRAGON-H is designed to meet target and surveillance requirements for military customers and law enforcement agencies who require a compact, lightweight and capable hand held, tripod or mast mounted system.
Utilising a state of the art 12µm 640x512, uncooled thermal sensor DRAGON-H delivers excellent sensitivity and image uniformity in a lightweight and ruggedized housing.
DRAGON-H is developed with common modules and system architecture from the Excelitas DRAGON-S (Sniper) 12µm weapon sight – providing customers with a reliable, modular, and low risk solution based upon matched optics and Detect, Recognition and Identification (DRI) capabilities across both systems. DRAGON-H DRI performance achieved against man sized targets typically, Detection: 3500 - 4000m / Recognition:1200 – 1600m / Identification: 600 – 750m. Providing variable magnification from x4.5 – x18, the system provides the User with a very useable digital zoom / field of view ratios for wide area surveillance and long range target detection.
Surveillance activities are supported through a high resolution image and video capture capability with dedicated memory storage, which also provides the User with the ability pre-program the system and configure specific mission profiles.
DRAGON-H incorporates a high performance, Class 1 1550nm Laser Range Finder (LRF). The LRF has an operating range in excess of 2km on a Man sized targets and 3km on vehicle sized targets. An Infra-Red Laser Pointer (IRLP) is also incorporated to allow target indication and handoff to other team members.
To maintain situational awareness, along with providing target location capability, DRAGON-H also includes an integrated sensor pack comprising GPS (Commercial or SAASM), Digital Magnetic Compass (DMC), Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS). Utilising its suite of on-board high-fidelity sensors, DRAGON-H provides the operational advantage with precision target identification and Geo-location capabilities.
DRAGON-H is designed with interoperability in mind. External Communications are provided via a dedicated I/O port to provide external video and data communications, and a Bluetooth interface is included that provides external communications to ancillary devices (such as a remote control unit), receive data from additional external sensors or allow for data sharing with other systems such as the DRAGON-S Sniper Weapon Sight. The Bluetooth can be disabled if required for specific operations.
DRAGON-H provides 8 pre-programmed reticules, which can be defined by Operators and matched to other weapon sights in order to support fire / fall of shot corrections.
DRAGON-H contains a Ballistics Calculator. Utilising the internal sensors, and stored ammunition ballistics data the system can generate a highly accurate ballistics solution that can exported to other compatible devices, in particular the DRAGON-S In Line thermal sight for sharpshooter and sniper weapon systems. This can provide a disturbed reticule or hold-off information to assist shooters in rapid target acquisition, engagement and re-engagement.
GON-H provides the User with advanced visual features such as False Colour Pallets, Edge Detection and image colour tint. These features enable the User to customise the system to optimise the specific thermal conditions and achieve the best possible target image, range performance and enhanced situational awareness.
The User Interface (UI) has been optimized to allow for ease of operation and an enhanced User Experience (UX). Each critical function has an individual control to reduce the training burden. DRAGON-H UI has been developed and tested with experienced Users. The UI is intuitive and optimized for both left / right handed, and gloved operation, allowing ‘out-of-the-box’ operation of the system.
DRAGON-H utilises a range of modern materials and manufacturing processes to provide a system weighing less than 1.5kg, which provides the User a lightweight and robust system providing early detection and identification of targets at extended ranges.
Power is provided by 4 x AA Lithium batteries, which can provide over 7 hours of functionality.
The DRAGON systems approach provides the foundations for development of further product variants to support enhanced VAS solutions over the coming years, as a number of customers worldwide seek to modernise enhance their Vision Solutions. Greater range performance and enhanced connectivity are achieved by taking advantage of the rapidly developing areas of sensor development, algorithm development and artificial intelligence to provide truly connected VAS capability.
Providing Users with the ability to out think, out smart, and out fight our enemies, is what Excelitas is all about in the Land systems domain. As with all Excelitas VAS products, DRAGON systems can be supplied as ITAR free solutions, utilising the latest in sensor and display technologies, without compromising performance.
As Excelitas continues to move forward with enhanced sighting systems for dismounted Users, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate and partner with industrial players around the world in order to bring world class capabilities to national programmes and to ensure that Excelitas products remain state of the art and provide features and capabilities called for by the User community.
Excelitas, along with our industry partners are totally committed to reducing the size weight and power burden placed on to our customers; developing the battle winning equipment within the realistic constraints of technology while maintaining affordability.
We continue to push forward, developing our experience and thinking in order to challenge the boundaries to ensure our customers always stay one step ahead.
For more information please visit: