Thales Optics Ltd. have been involved in a joint funded technology demonstrator program between UK MOD and Thales called Thermal Imager for Dismounted Infantry, run in conjunction with QinetiQ. The aim of this program was to evaluate and demonstrate a cost effective route to equipping the infantry soldier with a small, lightweight, rugged, short range, weapon mounted thermal imaging sight, intended for mass deployment. To address the requirements of this program, Thales Optics Ltd. performed a detailed trade-off analysis considering the effect of using alternative sensors, displays and optical configurations on the sight cost, mass, volume, power and performance. This effort was supported with equipment trials and user assessments. Based on this work, six technical demonstrator sights have been manufactured and delivered to UK MOD for evaluation on several programmes including the UK's FIST soldier modernisation program. Thales Optics has since progressed the TIDI concept further into two product streams, a family of weapon sights called VIPIR and a surveillance sight called VIPIR-S. This paper will summarise the work undertaken on the TIDI program and how this has been applied to the VIPIR and VIPIR-S family of products.
Thermal Imager for Dismounted Infantry (TIDI), is a UK MOD / Thales Optics Ltd. joint funded technology demonstrator programme and is part of the overall programme managed by QinetiQ. The aim of this programme is to evaluate and demonstrate a cost effective route to equipping the infantry soldier with a small, lightweight, rugged, short range, weapon mounted thermal imaging sight; intended for mass deployment. TIDI is an unusual programme in that the requirement was not rigidly defined in terms of a detailed specification. Instead, the requirement was expressed in terms of the question 'What weapon sight performance can be achieved for a volume production cost of 5000 Euro?' This requirement was subject to the constraints that the sight mass should be less than 500 g and the volume should be less than 500 ml.
To address the requirements of this programme, Thales Optics Ltd. have performed a detailed trade-off analysis considering alternative uncooled LWIR sensor formats and technologies. The effect of using alternative sensors on the sight cost, mass, volume, power and performance has been compared. A design study has been performed concentrating on simplification of the optics, mechanics and electronics to minimise the overall sight complexity. Based on this analysis, a demonstrator sight has been designed that is cost effective and suitable for volume manufacture, whilst still offering useful performance to the user. Six technical demonstrator units based on this design have been manufactured and evaluated.
This paper will give an overview of the work completed to date on the TIDI program, including a description of the demonstrator hardware and its performance.