Visitors and Exhibitors to this year’s IDEX Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, may have noticed subtle changes in the traffic, parking and transport arrangements, taking the taxi and bus stations away from the Exhibition area.
In addition, as we understand, the whole IDEX Exhibition area was ringed with Counter-UAS systems including Patriot. Source suggest that a Royal Palace was hit by a sUAS last year with no casualties reported. Another source suggested that the sUAS penetrated the C-UAS defence as the operator his the sUAS in a flock of Pelicans.
This development in the ability of all types of UAS systems, which we discuss in this special issue of BATTLESPACE, puts the spotlight on an issue we have discussed over the past years, that is the requirement for high-definition displays to allow operators to locate and destroy targets at long range. The current range of militarised civil 8 bit displays do not have the required definition to locate these targets once the video of the target is compressed. Several companies sucha s MARSS and Anduril are using AI systems linked to the C-sUAS systems to give better target recognition and range to track the target.
In 2019, to demonstrate the benefit of the 10 bit display, which although more expensive to buy, are in fact the equivalent cost to an 8 bit display if the initial higher costs is amortised over the period of the contract, American Panel, now part of Mercury Communications, paid on a sensor capability trial at the British Army’s Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) at Bovington, Dorset, UK.
The UK MoD’s DE&S initial reaction was to say that the current war pans are based on a target range of 5km, based on the North German Plain model, that was before the advent of the sUAS threat and the requirement for detection at least 12kms. There is also the sunlight readable requirements required for operators in hot climates such as the Middle East and Asia.
In August 2019, American Panel completed the sensor capability trial at ATDU, following a month long trial of its advanced vehicle display at the British Army’s Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) at Bovington, Dorset, UK.
The results showed a clear benefit of the 12 bit display Vs. 8 bit.
A next generation of thermal imaging sensor to display capability was successfully trialled at ATDU over the period 10-28 Jun 19. This new capability included a latest generation 10-bit capable Thermal imaging sensor from TECNOBIT (TNB) that streamed live 10-bit video feed with a specific gamma rate correction setting to a 10-bit capable (American Panel Corporation (APC) and Kent Modular Electronics (KME) display. This capability not only transforms the user experience by furnishing the commander with feed that is easier to interpret; but crucially also enabling the commander to Detect, Recognise and Identify (DRI) targets and objects at far greater ranges than with the legacy, 6 or 8-bit capability on the in-service Remote Weapon Station (RWS).
3By using these enhanced capabilities, the commander will be able to effect at greater ranges too – particularly in the new era of vehicles and weapon load modularity. This capability will enable simpler and faster changes of weapons systems (both direct and indirect) on a single multi-weapon mount, giving commanders true variety and choice to their tactical capability.
- The aim of the trial was to:
- Determine the Detection, Recognition, Identification (DRI) capabilities of a 10-bit video input display.
- Undertake comparative testing against a current in-service Remote Weapons System (RWS) 6>8-bit based thermal imaging sensor and matched video viewing/control screen.
- Understand the benefits of the TNB HD sensor (10-bit) when used in conjunction with the APC / KME screen display (10-bit).
- Showcase the combined capability to key UK MoD and Defence Industry personnel.
Jamie Boulet of American Panel, now DRS, said, “The development of longer range EO/IR sensors has required MoDs and industry alike to look at a range of advanced displays to accommodate the images displayed at longer range. This is particularly important to avoid collateral damage involving civilians and blue-on-blue strikes. Our unique 10 bit technology, which has already been chosen by General Dynamics on the M1A2 Sep V3 main Battle Tank, provides this solution. The ATDU trail was undertaken on the basis of an 8 bit Vs. American Panel’s 10 bit display. The results exceeded even our expectations.”
American Panel believed that the trial was successful in proving that in comparison to the legacy in-service RWS, the trialled system appears to have exceeded existing crew DRI capability and provides a much clearer picture at all distances. This new DRI capability is believed to surpass anything in current service with UK Land Forces. As a result, this step change means that crews should no longer have to rely on additional assets to DRI, at greater ranges. It is worth noting that while the appetite for collateral damage remains very low, the increased detail afforded by these enhanced capabilities, allows the operator to make better informed decisions on engagements, and in so doing reduces the risk of using imperfect identification information, especially in time-critical situations.
The Local Situational Awareness enhancement afforded by this system will aid operations across the whole mounted fleet; and will undoubtedly reduce the risk of fratricide on own, friendly or civilian elements by increasing Positive Identification ranges and certainty, thereby enabling greater (and more certain) prosecution of targets in low and no light.
It should be noted that this alignment display of thermal imaging and 10-bit video systems was only a first step in determining what is possible today. It is recommended that further testing both in controlled lab conditions and in an operational context could provide valuable information and further insight into delivering more precise identification and the potential for engagement.
IEE displays are a key component in a Counter-UAS security strategy of detection, identification, tracking, and defeat. Modern advanced sensors, radars and other detection technologies enable the early warning and accurate identification of potential drone threats. IEE provides a line of operator console displays with resolutions of Full-HD, Ultra-HD and 4K that match the latest high resolution sensors and cameras, while still being able to operate in harsh outdoor fielded environments. For example, IEE’s 13.3 inch Full-HD display is fit for use in both airborne and military ground vehicle applications with it’s rugged sealed enclosure.
“High-resolution displays in combination with artificial intelligence algorithms can be used to analyze data from sensors, cameras and other sources to accurately differentiate between an actual threat and other flying objects,” remarked Steve Motter, V.P. of Business Development for IEE. “These detection algorithms, combined with object recognition, and high resolution imaging, allow the operator to quickly review and validate the detected potential UAS threat – leading to effective, informed Counter-UAS responses. IEE has continued the development of several new high resolution, rugged displays. We are actively aligning our design efforts with the (worldwide) MOD/DOD objectives of Modular Open Systems Approaches for next generation vehicle system architectures. This includes open standards for digital video streaming, high speed (secure) digital communications/networking, and low-latency configurable video processing. “
13.3-inch FHD Display Description
This full-HD display (1920 x 1080) is LCD bonded with high-strength cover glass, including EMI shield, heater and anti-reflective/glare treatments. The LED backlight enables both sunlight readable and night (NVIS compatible) modes. The narrow bezel has eight backlit soft keys, and is optimized for side-by-side mounting to provide a panoramic view. The video interface includes 2x Composite NTSC/PAL and 1x 3G-SDI.
“We are seeing increased requirements for replaceable bezels,” said Steve Motter, V.P. of Business Development for IEE. “There are many benefits for this feature, but mostly, repairable bezels reduce disruptive and expensive downtime, and reduce the need for the costly replacement of the entire display.”
Repairable bezels for rugged displays are important for durability, cost-effectiveness, longevity, flexibility and maintainability. Below are two IEE displays with replaceable bezels.
10.1-inch WUXGA Multi-Function Display (MFD)
The 10.1″ MFD utilizes of a high performance, heavy-duty, full color, very high bright WUXGA AMLCD. Designed for fixed and rotary wing airborne applications, this very wide viewing angle display features a selectable dual-mode LED backlight for sunlight readable daytime operation and NVIS-compatible operation for night. A programmable 8-way joystick and encoder knobs complement the bezel keys to provide a full-featured operator interface supporting the control of a wide range of applications.
- 10.1″ WUXGA, (1920×1200) color TFT LCD display
- Brightness: 1,100 cd/m2 typical
- Contrast Ratio: 800:1
- Video Interface: 2 x DVI-D, 2 x HD-SDI (loop-through)
- Communication Interface: RS-422
- 13 programmable bezel push-buttons, with tactile feedback and NVIS filtered backlight
- Replaceable Bezel
- On-screen display (OSD) functions controlled using Bezel Keys
- 3-way rotary switch for OFF/NIGHT/DAY, one brightness encoder, two programmable dual-concentric encoders and one 8-way joystick
6”x8” Rotorcraft Multi-Function Display (MFD)
This dual-mode, high-bright and NVIS 10.4” LCD display is lightweight, and has a rugged sealed enclosure fit for airborne applications. With its redundant digital video and ARINC-429 communication interfaces, along with its extensive built-in test, this display provides the rugged performance necessary for demanding environments. The field-replaceable bezel assists the warfighter in maximizing operational availability for improved readiness.
- Enhanced, High Bright 10.4” XGA (1024×768) LCD Display
- Chemically strengthened cover glass with EMI Filter and anti-reflective/glare (AR/AG) treatments
- Dual-mode LED backlight with selectable high-bright day (sunlight readable) and night (NVIS compliant) modes
- Sealed NVIS Backlit Bezel with 24 Push Buttons and 4 Rocker Switches
- Replaceable bezel
- Video Inputs: 2x DVI-D
- Control Interface: 3x ARINC-429, RS-232/422
ScioTeq’s Family Of Displays
A counter-UAS system operator may be operating remotely in a command centre or they may be co-located with the sensor in support of deployed operations; either way it is important to provide them with equipment that will function reliably in their environment. This may mean that a ruggedized display for use inside a vehicle or within a mobile command centre is the best solution. ScioTeq is a leading manufacturer and supplier of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) trailblazing displays to the international defense and aerospace markets. For over 30 years ScioTeq has led the introduction of new technologies in defence display development and manufacturing .
ScioTeq’s latest entrant into the rugged display market is the Thinlite 4K family of displays. This family of products offer field deployable, survivable 4K low latency displays, which provide a critical advantage in counter-UAS identification. With sensor packages, such as cameras, incorporating much higher resolution capabilities in order to take advantage of the data they capture, higher pixel displays are needed, and thus the move to 4K. 4K displays (UltraHD 3840 x 2160 resolution) have more pixels per centimeter than 2K or standard displays, so their images contain more identifiable data, especially on smaller detected targets. The Thinlite 4K displays provide pixel perfect clarity in an MIL qualified package and the highest level of clarity and sharpness, ensuring minimal delay between the instrument and the operator’s eyeball. The resulting low latency brings the displayed images into real time more realistically. This can allow an operator to positively identify a detected object earlier and at a greater range. Earlier identification provides a longer window of opportunity to interdict the UAS if required to do so, as does utilizing a sensor to display line with minimum latency.
Additionally ScioTeq displays allow “picture within picture” images which are tiled within the master image but, on a ThinLite 4K, these sub-pictures are of higher resolution than traditional displays. This greatly improves operator awareness. The introduction of Thinlite 4K UltraHD displays provides a field deployable display that matches or exceeds the resolution of other sensors deployed to counter UAS.