INFRA-RED (IR) VEHICLE LIGHTING SYSTEMS GAIN MOMENTUM
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
23 May 07. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have provided a proving ground for a number of key technologies. Prior to these conflicts Night Vision Lighting system technologies were in their infancy and only used on a few special purpose vehicles.
IED attacks on convoys during daytime operations caused a major rethink and now, using IR technology, troops can drive at night using advanced covert IR lighting systems. These systems enable convoys to drive at speed. Coupled to Night Vision Goggles, (NVG) IR vehicle lighting systems are a significant element in night operational capability, allowing drivers to see at night.
Oxley Developments were pioneers in the development of this technology using their extensive expertise in advanced LED lighting systems first used on fighter aircraft and helicopters.
“We saw a key use for IR LED lighting on vehicles by developed from an exterior IR lighting system we originally designed for the U.S. F-16 Upgrade Programme,” said Dr Tim Bushell, Oxley Business Development Director.
“The lights make use of highly directional high power IR LEDs packaged to fit inconspicuously into vehicles
“These then become part of custom-designed Night Vision Lighting systems from Oxley , which, when used with Night Vision Goggles add a further dimension to this capability, allowing drivers to see further, drive faster and with reduced risk of damaging the vehicle. By using Oxley filtering techniques to modify vehicles to be used in night time operations, driver safety is greatly improved. Incidents such as the drivers view through the goggle being obliterated by a warning light flaring are virtually eliminated.”
From small beginnings on a few prototype vehicles, Oxley’s IR lighting systems have been fitted in their thousands to vehicles in the USA, by Oxley Inc. and the U.K. by Oxley Developments.
The systems can be easily fixed to existing platforms using a kit supplied by Oxley. A simple solution to a ‘role-fit’ requirement is covert filter covers which fit onto existing driving lamps. These allow the customer to select the appropriate trade-off between covertness and the NVG visible range. There are operational scenarios where vehicle lights must not be detected by an NVG-equipped enemy. IR secure covers are the solution, removing the near IR energy and providing a dim visible green output from the headlights or driving lights.
Installing a complete Oxley Night Vision lighting suite will significantly enhance the driving capabilities of any vehicle, on the darkest of nights, in conditions of heavy overcast and in low reflectivity terrain. With these driving lights fitted, vehicles have the advantage of driving at normal daylight speeds, whilst using Night Vision Goggles at night. The lights produce a carefully tailored beam shape which has been designed to illuminate a precise area in front of the vehicle and maximise the performance of the goggle. They also maintain a low NVG signature which reduces the risk of detection by the enemy.
“Driving safely in convoy at night while using Night Vision Goggles is now possible with Oxley covert Convoy Lights. These low intensity lights significantly enhance the driver’s perception of distance and reduce the risks of running into the vehicle in front. Additional functions can be added: Flashing one convoy light provides a direction indicator and bright covert diodes are used as brake lights,” Bushell continued.
Hobson Industries is another pioneer of IR lighting systems.
“We have been actively pursuing IR lighting technologies on our vehicles for some time,” Peter Hobson, Managing Director of Hobson Industries told BATTLESPACE. “When Oxley showed us their system some time ago, we saw the merits in including it in our customer options for upgrading and enhancing existing lighting systems. We have had considerable interest in IR ligh