The reconnaissance capability of a military observation and targeting platform is mainly driven by the performance of the used sensors. In general, the MWIR thermal imager is the primary sensor and the use of a visible camera increases the identification capability of the platform during day for very long observation ranges. In addition to the imaging sensors a laser pointer, a laser rangefinder (LRF), and a combined laser rangefinder/ designator (LRF/D) completes the sensor suite. As LRF a single pulse eye safe rangefinder based on an OPO shifted Nd:YAG transmitter can be used. The alternative LRF/D uses an diode laser pumped dual wavelength OPO/Nd:YAG transmitter and can be operated either at 1570 nm or at 1064 nm with a pulse rate of maximum 25 pps .<p> </p> A MWIR thermal imager  with a 1280x1024 MWIR detector and an optical zoom range between 1.2° and 20° horizontal fields of view provides a HD-SDI video stream in the 720p or 1080p standard. A camera build in software image stabilizer and a smart tone mapping algorithm improves the reconnaissance results for the observer.<p> </p> A combined camera covers the visible, NIR and SWIR spectral range  using a common entrance optics. The resolution of the color camera Si-CMOS chip is 1920x1080 and of the InGaAs focal plane array it is 640x512 detector pixel. The combined VIS/NIR/SWIR camera provides improved ranging under hazy and misty atmospheric conditions and also improved detection of laser spots e.g. of the integrated laser designator with high sensitivity in the spectral range between 450 nm up to 1700 nm, most of the military lasers are operating in the NIR and SWIR spectral band . The combination of the sensors in the platform improves significantly the operational use. The application of the described platform is not limited to military scout vehicles, the available sensors are also integrated in a targeting platform with similar performances but other environmental demands.<p> </p> The possibilities, improvements in comparison of existing platforms and potential upgrades are discussed.
The video output of thermal imagers stayed constant over almost two decades. When the famous Common Modules were employed a thermal image at first was presented to the observer in the eye piece only. In the early 1990s TV cameras were attached and the standard output was CCIR. In the civil camera market output standards changed to digital formats a decade ago with digital video streaming being nowadays state-of-the-art. <p> The reasons why the output technique in the thermal world stayed unchanged over such a long time are: the very conservative view of the military community, long planning and turn-around times of programs and a slower growth of pixel number of TIs in comparison to consumer cameras. With megapixel detectors the CCIR output format is not sufficient any longer. The paper discusses the state-of-the-art compression and streaming solutions for TIs. </p>
The thermal imager ATTICA was designed to fit into the thermal sights of the new German Infantry tank PUMA. The
flexible approach for the optical concept, using different folding mirrors allows meeting the different available space
requirements for thermal sights also of other tanks like the main battle tank Leopard 2 and the infantry fighting vehicle
Marder. These tanks are going to be upgraded. The flexible concepts of the thermal imager optics as well as the
mechanical packing solutions for the different space volumes of the commander and gunner sights of the vehicles are
For long ranging imaging in high performing electro-optical systems visible cameras with HDTV resolution
(1920x1080) are becoming the standard sensor for observation purposes during day. During night and for thermal
imaging, significant reduced resolution has to be accepted over a long period of time due to non-availability of adequate
infrared detectors. In the meantime standard detectors with 1280x1024 are available on the market which provide at least
SXGA resolution. ATTICA M is the newest member of Carl Zeiss Optronics ATTICA family of cooled thermal
imagers, which uses an infrared detector with 1280x1024 pixels. ATTICA M can operate with a variety of infrared
detectors either based on InSb or MCT as a detector material. ATTICA M is form and fit to the well known ATTICA Z
and ATTICA P which is integrated in several military platforms in series production and can consequently be used to
upgrade the related platforms. In detail three variants with different zoom optics covering the field of view range
between 1,4° - 30° are available for a large scope of applications, on land, on the sea or in the air.
A newly developed video electronic is capable to operate the Megapixel detector as well as future dual band thermal
imager detectors as soon as they are available on the market. The features and options are discussed as well as the
performances compared to the current thermal imager generation.
The new PUMA tank is equipped with a fully stabilized 360° periscope. The thermal imager in the periscope is identical
to the imager in the gunner sight. All optronic images of the cameras can be fed on every electronic display within the
tank. The thermal imagers operate with a long wave 384x288 MCT starring focal plane array. The high quantum
efficiency of MCT provides low NETD values at short integration times. The thermal imager has an image resolution of
768x576 pixels by means of a micro scanner. The MCT detector operates at high temperatures above 75K with high
stability in noise and correctibility and offers high reliability (MTTF) values for the complete camera in a very compact
design. The paper discusses the principle and functionality of the optronic combination of direct view optical channel,
thermal imager and visible camera and discusses in detail the performances of the subcomponents with respect to
demands for new tank applications.
Current and future land warriors operate in a group or autonomously. The necessity to observe and locate targets during
day, night and all weather conditions inspire developments of small, but complex handheld devices, which are able to
fulfill these tasks. Observation in daylight can be achieved by means of a visual telescope with high resolution. For night
operation a thermal imager is required. Navigation tasks can be fulfilled with a digital magnetic compass and a GPS
receiver. For measuring ranges to targets an eye-safe laser rangefinder is necessary. OPUS H, the newest member of the
ZEISS family of handheld navigational and targeting devices, combines all these functions in a light-weight instrument
and analyses all data to provide first hand information about potential targets to the soldier and his group with sufficient
accuracy for combat decisions.
The German Soldier-of-the-Future ("Infanterist der Zukunft" - IdZ) programme provides three different optronic
reconnaissance systems and weapon sights respectively for each infantry squad of ten soldiers. Besides the
reconnaissance and targeting device (WBBG) of the squad leader and the weapon sight (WBZG) for the sniper,
the so-called "Video Visier" (video visor) will be used as a new type of weapon sight for aiming and combating
with the German assault rifles G36 and AG36, with the machine gun MG4 as well as with the bazooka PzF3.
The video visor includes an uncooled thermal imager, a daylight camera, an eye-safe laser range finder and a
digital magnetic compass with inclination sensor. Communication with the soldier-mounted central processing
unit and real-time transmission of the video data (e.g. display mounted into the helmet of the soldier) is enabled
by a wireless data link. In the presentation of the requirements, the philosophy and concept as well as the
functionality of the video visor will be described in detail.
Optronics Mast Systems (US: Photonics Mast Systems) are electro-optical devices which enable a submarine crew to observe the scenery above water during dive. Unlike classical submarine periscopes they are non-hull-penetrating and therefore have no direct viewing capability. Typically they have electro-optical cameras both for the visual and for an IR spectral band with panoramic view and a stabilized line of sight. They can optionally be equipped with laser range- finders, antennas, etc. The brand name ATTICA (Advanced Two- dimensional Thermal Imager with CMOS-Array) characterizes a family of thermal cameras using focal-plane-array (FPA) detectors which can be tailored to a variety of requirements. The modular design of the ATTICA components allows the use of various detectors (InSb, CMT 3...5 μm , CMT 7...11 μm ) for specific applications. By means of a microscanner ATTICA cameras achieve full standard TV resolution using detectors with only 288 X 384 (US:240 X 320) detector elements. A typical requirement for Optronics-Mast Systems is a Quick- Look-Around capability. For FPA cameras this implies the need for a 'descan' module which can be incorporated in the ATTICA cameras without complications.