LEDs FOR MILITARY VEHICLES – IT’S TIME EVERYONE SAW THE LIGHT!
By Marcus Goad, Business Development Manager, Oxley Developments Co. Ltd.
Maximising the performance of LEDs in the military vehicle sector is the new challenge facing both suppliers and users. It may seem counter intuitive, but using, buying or specifying LEDs for military or other demanding applications, it is most likely to be what you don’t see that makes the big difference in terms of both performance and reliability. Those who design, specify and operate military vehicles must be aware of the performance capabilities and the limitations of LED technology, and should challenge extravagant claims about the performance of LEDs, which are often driven by data collected in carefully controlled laboratory conditions instead of operational scenarios. In turn, suppliers of specialist equipment should be more open about the actual performance of their products. They must encourage their customers to ask the difficult questions and be willing to give detailed answers in return. Otherwise there is a risk that the huge potential for LED technology could fail to live up to expectations. Moreover, both sides of the industry should be prepared to work together to re-write equipment specifications that have failed to move with the technology advances and are in some cases 20 years out of date!
Aerospace technology for land vehicles
The military vehicle sector has in recent years benefited hugely from the pioneering work undertaken by specialist suppliers to the aerospace industry. The Gulf War and later other in-theatre operations such as Afghanistan and Libya have seen aircraft technology leap forward to take full advantage of advanced infra-red LED lighting to enable safer night flying for both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
Oxley Developments has consistently worked at the frontier of that technology with the retrofitting of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to enhance night-flying capabilities. On the ground Oxley wrote the book on the use of infra-red systems for vehicle headlights. Its LED engineering sets the standard in comprehensive testing, and micro-processor control of temperature and power delivery to optimise performance for maximum service life. Virtually all the NATO vehicles now use Oxley LED IR Lighting systems. Oxley is now working with Force Protection Europe supplying LED internal crew compartment lighting for the Foxhound light protected patrol vehicle which is designed to provide effective protection from IED blasts.
Foxhound is equipped with intelligent internal lights – intelligent by design and intelligent in application. In physical terms the LED technology means they are very low profile – giving more headroom for the soldiers travelling in the vehicle. As back door opens the light goes from white down to red – NVIS friendly capability in a single compact unit. Each of the three lights on board incorporates a microprocessor and an RGB LED which means it can colour change simply through software reprogramming to meet different requirements. It offers a supremely efficient and flexible solution with no requirement for hardware changes; again it is LED technology proven in the aerospace sector but fit for purpose for the land sector.
It is the same story with the LED gooseneck developed specifically to meet the requirements of new generation military vehicles such as Foxhound. There are lots of cheaper alternatives but how many are vibration and EMC hard and able to meet Defence Standard 59-411 Land Class A– the current EMC benchmark for UK military equipment? You don’t get that from B&Q!
Reliability and Performance
Every Oxley LED product incorporates – as standard – technology that is designed to simply make it work better and last longer. The LEDs themselves are manufactured by specialists and Oxley – in common with other OEM integrators – simply buys the best on the market. What makes their equ