Tar­get­ing Tech­nolo­gies

Small arms and the ar­tillery must be able to ac­cu­rately en­gage the tar­get both by day and night, also pin­point­ing where en­emy fire is com­ing from and neu­tral­iz­ing

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

Small arms and the ar­tillery must be able to ac­cu­rately en­gage the tar­get both by day and night, also pin­point­ing where en­emy fire is com­ing from and neu­tral­iz­ing

TECH­NO­LOG­I­CAL AD­VANCES PRO­VIDE THE means to tar­get the en­emy more ef­fec­tively. If you can see the ad­ver­sary be­fore he sees you, mon­i­tor his moves con­tin­u­ously and tar­get him ef­fec­tively, the vic­tory scales would ax­iomat­i­cally tilt in your favour. In this era of hy­brid war­fare and heavy ex­changes of fire astride the Line of Con­trol (LoC) pe­ri­od­i­cally, the role of elec­tro op­ti­cal sys­tems both in small arms and the ar­tillery are im­por­tant, cou­pled with the fact that a bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance sys­tem per­haps is still a decade away. On one hand, there is ad­vanced re­search of or­ganic elec­tro-op­tic (EO) ma­te­ri­als and their hy­brid sys­tems for de­vice ap­pli­ca­tions, like poly­mer sol—gel wave­guide mod­u­la­tors, poly­mer sil­i­con slot­ted wave­guides, and EO poly­mer­clad sil­i­con ni­tride ring res­onators, pro­vid­ing new par­a­digm of high band­width, small foot­print, and low en­ergy con­sump­tion EO de­vices for tele­com, dat­a­com, and sens­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. But at the same time, re­search and de­vel­op­ment is be­ing un­der­taken glob­ally to en­hance the reach, im­prove the res­o­lu­tion and re­duce the weight of sights in or­der to pro­vide a bet­ter edge to own side. Small arms and the ar­tillery must be able to ac­cu­rately en­gage the tar­get both by day and night, also pin­point­ing where en­emy fire is com­ing from and neu­tral­iz­ing it. In terms of indige­nous EO prod­ucts, we need to catch up with the for­eign coun­ter­parts in terms of di­men­sion, weight and per­for­mance. The ‘Make in In­dia’ project and the Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Model (SPM) have opened av­enues for de­vel­op­ing state-of-theart EOs for our mil­i­tary.

Weapon Sights

Most mod­ern as­sault ri­fles in use have op­ti­cal sights like red dot sights and diopter sights. Most can be fit­ted with de­tach­able scope mounts and night vi­sion de­vices (NVDs). The Is­rareli Ta­vor TAR-21 as­sault ri­fle in use by our PARA (Spe­cial Forces) has a a stan­dard Pi­catinny-type rail and is com­pat­i­ble with var­i­ous scopes or night vi­sion sys­tems, the red-dot sight be­ing stan­dard is­sue. Op­ti­cal sights al­low users to see the im­age of an aligned aim­ing point in the same fo­cus as the tar­get. Th­ese in­clude tele­scopic sights and re­flex sights. There are also sights that project an aim­ing point onto the tar­get it­self, such as laser sights. A tele­scopic sight is based on an op­ti­cal re­fract­ing tele­scope, equipped with some form of graphic im­age pat­tern (a ret­i­cle) mounted in an op­ti­cally ap­pro­pri­ate po­si­tion in their op­ti­cal sys­tem to give an ac­cu­rate aim­ing point. The re­flex sight is gen­er­ally non-mag­ni­fy­ing op­ti­cal de­vice that al­lows the user to look through a glass el­e­ment and see a re­flec­tion of an il­lu­mi­nated aim­ing point or some other im­age su­per­im­posed on the field of view. Then there are col­li­ma­tor sight (also termed ‘blind sight’) that al­lows the user look­ing into it to see an il­lu­mi­nated aim­ing point aligned with the de­vice the sight is at­tached to re­gard­less of eye po­si­tion (with lit­tle par­al­lax).

Laser Sights com­prise light­weight laser placed on a hand­gun or ri­fle that is aligned to emit a beam par­al­lel to the bar­rel; the laser light ap­pears as a small spot on the tar­get and the bar­rel of the gun is aligned and fired. Most laser sights use a red laser diode. Oth­ers use an in­frared diode to pro­duce a dot in­vis­i­ble to the naked hu­man eye but de­tectable with night vi­sion de­vices. A stan­dard red dot sight uses a red light-emit­ting diode (LED) at the fo­cus of col­li­mat­ing op­tics which gen­er­ates a dot style il­lu­mi­nated ret­i­cle that stays in align­ment with the weapon the sight is at­tached to re­gard­less of eye po­si­tion - nearly par­al­lax free. Tele­scopes have nar­row field of view and there­fore are of­ten equipped with a se­condary ‘finder scope’ such as a red dot sight. Fi­nally, there are also Holo­graphic Weapon Sights (HWS) that use a laser trans­mis­sion holo­gram of a ret­i­cle im­age that is recorded in three-di­men­sional space onto holo­graphic film at the time of man­u­fac­ture. This im­age is part of the op­ti­cal view­ing win­dow. The recorded holo­gram is il­lu­mi­nated by the col­li­mated light of a laser diode built into the sight. The sight can be ad­justed for range and windage by sim­ply tilt­ing or piv­ot­ing the holo­graphic grat­ing. To com­pen­sate for any change in the laser wave­length due to tem­per­a­ture, the sight em­ploys holog­ra­phy grat­ing that dis­perses the laser light by an equal amount but in the op­po­site di­rec­tion as the holo­gram form­ing the aim­ing ret­i­cle. It is not ‘par­al­lax free’ but can be off­set by hav­ing a holo­graphic im­age set at fi­nite dis­tance with par­al­lax due to eye move­ment be­ing size of the op­ti­cal win­dow at close range and di­min­ish­ing to zero at the set dis­tance; usu­ally around a de­sired tar­get range of 100m.

Night Vi­sion De­vices

NVDs com­prise an im­age in­ten­si­fier tube (IIT), a pro­tec­tive hous­ing and a mount­ing sys­tem. Many NVDs also in­clude sac­ri­fi­cial lenses, IR il­lu­mi­na­tors and tele­scopic lenses. Night vi­sion gog­gles (NVGs), night-scopes, night-monoc­u­lar, night weapon sights are vi­tal to any army. Longer reach and im­proved res­o­lu­tion bet­ter the chances of win­ning. NVDs are of two types – Im­age In­ten­si­fiers (II) and Ther­mal Imagers (TI). Im­age In­ten­si­fiers are more com­mon as their light am­pli­fi­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy uses the small amount of am­bi­ent light like moon, stars-light and con­verts this light en­ergy (Pho­tons) into elec­tri­cal en­ergy (Elec­trons). To un­der­stand Ther­mal Imag­ing it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that In­frared (IR) can be split into three cat­e­gories; Near IR (0.7 to 1.3 mi­crons wave­length), Mid IR (1.3 to 3 mi­crons wave­length) and Ther­mal IR (3 mi­crons to over 30 mi­crons wave- length). The key dif­fer­ence be­tween Ther­mal IR and the other two is that Ther­mal IR is emit­ted by an ob­ject in­stead of re­flected off it. Most ther­mal imag­ing de­vices scan at a rate of 30 times per sec­ond, sense tem­per­a­tures from -20 de­grees Cel­sius to 3,600 de­grees Cel­sius and can de­tect changes in tem­per­a­ture of about 0.2 de­grees Cel­sius. Ther­mal imag­ing de­vices are gen­er­ally ‘Un-cooled’ or ‘Cryo­geni­cally Cooled’. The un-cooled ones are more com­mon wherein the IR de­tec­tor el­e­ments are con­tained in a unit that op­er­ates at room tem­per­a­ture. Th­ese de­vices are noise­less, ac­ti­vate im­me­di­ately and have in­built bat­ter­ies. Cryo­geni­cally cooled de­vices have el­e­ments sealed in­side a con­tainer that cools them to be­low 0 de­gree Cel­sius. The ad­van­tage of such a sys­tem is the in­cred­i­ble res­o­lu­tion and sen­si­tiv­ity that re­sult from cool­ing the el­e­ments. Th­ese sys­tems en­able iden­ti­fy­ing whether a per­son is hold­ing a weapon more than 300m away. Ther­mal imag­ing can de­tect per­sons in near-ab­so­lute dark­ness with lit­tle or no am­bi­ent light.

Fire De­tec­tion Sys­tems

This is an elec­tro-op­ti­cal sys­tem de­signed to pin­point the lo­ca­tion and sources of small arms fire. The sys­tem can han­dle si­mul­ta­ne­ous, mul­ti­ple fire sources, in­clud­ing small arms and sniper fire sources, dur­ing day and night. at long ranges and with high pre­ci­sion and de­tec­tion prob­a­bil­i­ties. Such sys­tems com­prises a FLIR, CCD with con­tin­u­ous zoom, a Laser Range Finder, a GPS, a com­man­der con­trol sys­tem and mul­ti­ple “sub­scribers”, lo­cated with the unit’s snipers. It analy­ses the fire sources de­tected, ver­i­fy­ing that each source is ac­tu­ally en­emy fire. When ver­i­fied, data is trans­ferred to the sup­ported unit, which can en­gage them with fire sup­port, snipers or in­di­rect fire. An ex­am­ple of such sys­tem is SPOTLITE by Rafael that rapidly closes the sen­sor-to-shooter loop tar­gets by pro­cess­ing within rel­a­tively short “win­dow of op­por­tu­nity” char­ac­ter­is­tic of ur­ban war­fare sce­nar­ios. When re­quired, the sys­tem can trans­late tar­get data into co­or­di­nates for other shoot­ers, or mark the tar­get with a laser marker; dis­tribut­ing live im­ages to rel­e­vant com­bat el­e­ments by day or night, sup­port­ing the pla­toon, com­pany, bat­tal­ion, re­con­nais­sance units and spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces, by spot­ting fire sources with high level of pre­ci­sion, ef­fi­ciently clos­ing a “sen­sor to shooter” cir­cuit at the tac­ti­cal level:

Global Com­pa­nies Deal­ing with Sight­ing Sys­tems

The global mar­ket is awash with prod­ucts of sight­ing sys­tems and NVDs. Some of the lead­ing com­pa­nies in this field are listed be­low: Safran Vec­tronix AG. The com­pany pro­vides state-of-the-art op­tronic equip­ment, sys­tems and sen­sors for mil­i­tary and civil ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing hand­held laser rangefind­ers and NVDs, tri­pod-mounted ori­en­ta­tion and po­si­tion­ing sys­tems and sen­sor mod­ules for OEM part­ners, ex­port­ing over 95 per cent of prod­ucts worl­wide. The com­pany of­fers ac­cu­rate, re­li­able, high qual­ity prod­ucts with com­bat-proven low fail­ure rate, and flex­i­bil­ity to ad­dress spe­cific cus­tomer re­quire­ments, cre­ate cus­tom­ized so­lu­tions and pro­vide sup­port over the com­plete prod­uct life cy­cle. The US

Ther­mal imag­ing de­vices are gen­er­ally ‘Un-cooled’ or ‘Cryo­geni­cally Cooled’. The un-cooled ones are more com­mon wherein the IR de­tec­tor el­e­ments are con­tained in a unit that op­er­ates at room tem­per­a­ture.

Army has con­tracted the com­pany to build the Army’s next-gen­er­a­tion laser tar­get lo­ca­tor; con­tract for $304.5 mil­lion an­nounced in April 2017 to build the Laser Tar­get Lo­ca­tor Mod­ule II (LTLM II) en­abling foot sol­diers iden­tify tar­get lo­ca­tions in day­light or at night, as well as in ob­scured-vis­i­bil­ity such as fog or smoke.

– The LTLM II is a light­weight, hand­held sys­tem with day and night imagers, a laser rangefinder, dig­i­tal com­pass, and a Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem (GPS) re­ceiver:

– Vec­tronix’ STERNA pro­vides true north ca­pa­bil­i­ties 24 x 7 in vir­tu­ally any en­vi­ron­ment work­ing in vir­tu­ally all weather con­di­tions; op­er­at­ing in­de­pen­dently without GPS, ce­les­tial bodies, sur­vey, or land­marks, and can op­er­ate in a mag­net­i­cally charged en­vi­ron­ment, per­mit­ting sol­diers to op­er­ate in vir­tu­ally all bat­tle and hos­tile en­vi­ron­ments:

– Vec­tronix pocket laser range finder of­fers snipers/spot­ters, marks­men and for­ward ob­servers the small­est, most pow­er­ful MILSPEC eye-safe laser range finder avail­able, with rang­ing mea­sure­ments up to 4,000m - weigh­ing 500g and mea­sur­ing only 131mm x 88mm x 56mm, the PLRF25C is ready for com­bat op­er­a­tions in the most ex­treme con­di­tions. The PLRF25C fits eas­ily in any pocket and is wa­ter re­sis­tant up to 1m deep for 30 min­utes (op­tional 10m): – Other prod­ucts in­clude ‘ther­mal ac­qui­si­tion clip-on sys­tem for NVDs’ that add ad­di­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties; low power con­sump­tion, op­ti­mal sen­sor tech­nol­ogy and high-per­for­mance op­tics in­te­grate seam­lessly to pro­vide state-of-the-art long-wave IR tech­nol­ogy. Then is the ‘com­pact ob­ser­va­tion and lo­ca­tion unit for day/ night view­ing, with geo-lo­ca­tion func­tions in a com­pact and user­friendly pack­age called ‘ MOSKITO’ that mea­sures range, az­imuth and ver­ti­cal an­gle. In ad­di­tion, it in­cor­po­rates the lat­est im­age in­ten­si­fier tech­nol­ogy for night time view­ing, in­clud­ing self-reg­u­la­tion to dif­fer­ent lev­els of bright­ness.

Aim­point AB. The com­pany sup­plies elec­tro-op­ti­cal sight­ing sys­tems in­clud­ing pas­sive red dot col­li­ma­tor sight, laser de­vice, fire con­trol sys­tems and mounts. It was awarded the first multi-year con­tract ever for red dot sights by the US Army in 1997. Aim­point has con­tin­ued to de­liver large quan­ti­ties of sights to the US Army, French Army, US Air Force, US SOCOM, Swedish Army, Nor­we­gian Army, Dutch Army, Dan­ish Army and Ital­ian Army. Op­tex Sys­tems. This US-based com­pany man­u­fac­tur­ing OEs has se­cured a con­tract to sup­ply new periscopes for the US Army. Un­der the terms of the $8,41,000 deal, the com­pany will sup­ply an undis­closed num­ber of periscopes to be in­stalled aboard the army’s Abrams tanks. The periscopes will fea­ture glass and plas­tic laser pro­tec­tion for sol­diers’ eyes.

Pho­tonic. Pho­tonic is a glob­ally ac­tive con­trac­tor for op­ti­cal and opto-elec­tronic in­stru­ments, whose op­ti­cal prod­ucts pro­vide for in­fantry and ar­tillery weapon sys­tems. The com­pany has also de­vel­oped a unique sight­ing sys­tem to lay muz­zle-loaded in­di­rect fire weapons such as 60mm mor­tars.

Tri­ji­con. This US com­pany has led the in­dus­try in the de­vel­op­ment of su­pe­rior any-light aim­ing sys­tems since the com­pany’s found­ing in 1981. Worl­drenowned for its in­no­va­tive ap­pli­ca­tions of tri­tium and ad­vanced fi­bre op­tics, Tri­ji­con man­u­fac­tures the most ad­vanced ri­fle­scopes and sights for tac­ti­cal and sport­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. It man­u­fac­tures op­ti­cal sight­ing de­vices for firearms, spe­cial­iz­ing in self-lu­mi­nous op­tics and night sights, mainly us­ing the low en­ergy ra­dioac­tive iso­tope tri­tium, light-gath­er­ing fiber op­tics and bat­ter­ies. Ad­di­tion­ally, Tri­ji­con is a con­trac­tor for the US mil­i­tary and sup­plies the Ad­vanced Com­bat Op­ti­cal Gun­sight (ACOG) and RX01 re­flex sights.The ACOG, Re­flex, TriPower, Ac­cuPoint, and Night Sights are avail­able to mil­i­tary, law en­force­ment, and civil­ian mar­kets. Thales Op­tics. The Sight Unit Small Arms, Trilux (or SUSAT) is a 4x with tele­scopic sight with tri­tium-pow­ered il­lu­mi­na­tion, utilised at dusk or dawn. The full name of the cur­rent model is the SUSAT L9A1. The SUSAT sight was de­vel­oped in the United King­dom by Royal Ar­ma­ments Re­search De­vel­op­ment Es­tab­lish­ment (RARDE) and is man­u­fac­tured by United Sci­en­tific In­stru­ments and Avimo, now known as Thales Op­tics.


Con­flict sit­u­a­tions de­mand that we pro­vide the where­withal to our sol­diers to have greater ad­van­tage through bat­tle­field trans­parency by night in­clud­ing through poor vis­i­bil­ity due to rain, fog, mist, snow, sand­storm, bliz­zards. Where the In­dian de­fence mar­ket has opened up for joint ven­tures with OEMs, we must pro­vide the state-ofthe–art elec­tro-op­tics tech­nol­ogy to our sol­diers for ef­fec­tively tar­get the en­emy.

(Top) Tri­ji­con’s Ad­vanced Com­bat Op­ti­cal Gun­sight; (above) PLRF25C pocket laser range finder from Vec­tronix

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: Tri­ji­con, Vec­tronix

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