FLIR Systems : Army Recognition met Andrew Saxton on the new range of products

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Eurosatory 2014
International Exhibition of Land Defence & Security

16 - 20 June 2014
Paris, France
FLIR Systems at Eurosatory 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014 03:17 PM
FLIR Systems : Army Recognition met Andrew Saxton on the new range of products

FLIR Systems added three new members in its family of products. Army Recognition had the opportunity to meet at Eurosatory Mr. Andrew Saxton, Director of Marketing Surveillance, and had a fruitful discussion, further to the one we had with Mr. Glenn Herosian, the Director of Technical Sales Engineering (OEM Land & Force Protection Surveillance) a month ago, at SOFEX in Amman, Jordan.


FLIR's new TacFLIR 280-HD multi-sensor system

Building on the SeaFLIR 280-HD sensor, the company has presented the TacFLIR 280-HD. A multi-sensor system, designed to be integrated on ground mobile platforms. The gimbal can accommodate up to four different imaging and three laser payloads. Most importantly it can exploit the advantages of SWIR (Short-Wave Infra-Red) technology, in the smallest gimbal available in the market.


More specifically, the system features a thermal imager (1280x720 InSb FPA), a daylight camera (1920x1080 CCD), a low light camera (1280x720 sCMOS) and optionally a 1920x1080 CCD or a 640x480 SWIR camera. The three accommodates lasers are a rangefinder (up to 30km), an illuminator (1W or 2W / NIR or SWIR) and a pointer. TacFLIR 280-HD offers 20x continuous zoom and a 120x total magnification, with embedded INS determining and disseminating of target location coordinates.


Short-Wave Infra-Red technology has been on the market for quite a while. It works complementary to the rest of the wavelengths, giving incomparable results of high sensitivity and resolution, in adverse (low light, foggy, humid, dusty) environments, day or night. Further to that, SWIR takes advantage of the night-glow or night sky radiance and is able to see covert lasers.


New Thermosight HISS-XLR target acquisition, reconnaissance and remote surveillance sensor


A second product presented by FLIR at Eurosatory was the ThermoSight HISS-XLR. A long-range sniper, target acquisition, reconnaissance and remote surveillance sensor.


With this sensor the operator can recognize and if necessary engage a man-sized target at a distance of two kilometres. It also gives the user the capability to record data (e.g. the azimuth from the integrated digital magnetic compass), video and images on an SD Card or remotely control the sensor and transmit all the information through a C2 network.


Further working on its functionality, the CR123A or AA batteries that are being used can be changed in a “hot-swap” mode. That is changing them one by one, without turning off the sensor, unless there is an outside source providing continuous power. Moreover, they can be inserted in any direction, indifferent of their polarity, which is a valuable feature in night operations.


ThermoSight HISS-XLR can be easily adjusted on a Picatinny rail, in front of a day scope, without further re-alignment or zeroing. And for those who are familiar with the blowback of the .50 Cal, the news is that the sensor has been used with the heavy machine gun and has functioned seamlessly.


FLIR's new Recon V ultra-light thermal binocular

Finally, the third new system that was showcased was the Recon V. It is an ultra-light and ruggedized thermal binocular, ideal for Special Forces, border patrol and reconnaissance units, for surveillance and force protection.


Recon V features internally, a GPS, a digital magnetic compass, a laser rangefinder and a laser pointer. Like the ThermoSight HISS-XLR, it offers hot-swap batteries change capability, a human-size target detection range of 6 km and recognition of 2 km.


The binocular can be powered with commonly found Lithium batteries or from an external power source. The images captured by Recon V can be stored and then disseminated to the C2 system through the operator’s personal radio (assuming the radio has this capacity) or the overall digital soldier system.


The discussions both with Mr. Andrew Saxton, at Eurosatory, and with Mr. Glenn Herosian, during SOFEX, had given us an insight on the market and the business strategy pursued by FLIR Systems.


While there are current and future needs for the introduction of new platforms, the declining defence budgets lead towards the upgrade of the legacy ones with new ISTAR systems. Finding the threat and taking time-critical decisions, remains the core value of warfare. This is becoming of extreme importance in a period of downscale restructuring of military forces around the world. With less manpower available, the commanders have to take timely decisions on where to position their forces, maximizing their impact.


EO/IR systems offer the ability not only to cover, indirectly, manpower gaps but also to extend current battlefield capabilities, both in time and space. Being one of the world’s largest producers of ISTAR sensors, FLIR offers the complete range of integrated products.


As Glenn Herosian has informed us, FLIR has expanded its products with the introduction of radars. Being one of the very few companies producing both EO/IR and radar sensors, it can offer a common interface for their operation, with reduced acquisition and operational cost on behalf of the customer, and with zero integration risk. In the latter case, an EO/IR and radar sensor, each from a different OEM, covering the same sector, would normally present a target twice in the C2 interface. That would require working together with two different manufacturers In order to solve the integration equation, which constitutes a sizeable proportion of the total cost.


With the cost of developing new military systems from scratch being restrictive, customers rely on COTS technology. But there is one question to be answered in this case. How can a company offer the latest technology and support to its customers, in times of tight budgets?


FLIR has developed a strong financial and technological status, to further pursue its business model for product development, which is presented under the term “Commercially Developed Militarily Qualified”. All of the company’s products are based on COTS technology but at the same time they are qualified for military use.


Foreign markets account for half of FLIR’s sales and as Mr. Glenn Herosian and Andrew Saxton stressed out, its footprint both in the Middle East and other parts of the world, relies not only on the company’s offering of state of the art products but on its strong after sales support infrastructure in 40 countries.


Jordan, as well as many other countries in the area, has already deployed FLIR’s systems on a range of tactical uses and platforms. Further strengthening its position in the Jordanian market, as well as all over the Middle East, the company will operate a maintenance depot, which has received the US government approval. Further to that, the latest versions of the products currently being operated by countries in the region are offered as future upgrades.


In overall, FLIR has invested in its core competencies. Its next steps will lead towards the further integration of the current portfolio (as is the case of its variety of sensors being integrated on a C2 system, based on the Chameleon software, which is currently providing security to one of Europe’s largest airports. Besides, the design of each new products is based on the assumption that it will have to operate linked with the rest of the sensors and the C2) and the digitization which is the current trend.


By Stylianos Kanavakis

Senior Defence Analyst