28 Jun 06. Thales told BATTLESPACE at DVD that it will be offering the MoD its new dual-axis stabilised head system coupled with the new Catherine MP (MegaPixel) launched at last year’s DSEi. The new system enables not only the fire-on-the move requirement with additional electronic stabilisation built-in but also enables the MoD to retain the logistic support provided thru the existing BGTI contract.
Catherine MP deploys third generation detector technology, exclusively developed by Thales, producing an image in excess of one million pixels. The Thales UK Catherine MP delivers high levels of long range performance approaching that of the groundbreaking STAIRS C camera but at substantially lower cost – ensuring affordability within many defence budgets throughout the world.
“This product, together with our ongoing development of cooled cameras, using Quantum Well technology, reflects our strategy of lowering the costs of procurement and ownership of cooled thermal imaging,” Thales told BATTLESPACE. “Cooled TI will always out-perform uncooled TI but we realise that performance in itself is not always enough for the cost conscious customer.”
The UK MoD strongly endorsed this low-cost approach to high performance thermal vision and has supported the development to reduce risks on its future programmes.
Thales’ extensive range of TI cameras bears testimony to the company’s widely acclaimed skill at identifying and answering the very demanding market needs for high-performance long-range vision capabilities. Both military and emerging Homeland Security customers will benefit from this clear focus on affordability.
Earlier this month (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.8 ISSUE 23, 07 June 2006, DPA LOOKS FURTHER AFIELD THAN BGTI FOR WARRIOR) we said that the MoD’s DPA Close Armour IPT has not mandated BGTI for any of the prospective turret suppliers for the forthcoming WLIP, Warrior Improvement Programme. The fact that BGTI is a newish installation had led many observers to expect that it would be mandated, particularly given the work to upgrade the gimlet and other improvements undertaken with the CTAI turret contract.
However the situation is as follows; although BGTI has been fitted to Warrior and the CVRT fleet, the MoD has taken a view not to mandate it for WLIP. Sources close to BATTLESPACE believe that this is for the following reasons.
Not all of the current Warrior Fleet if fitted with BGTI, and if in fact the DPA goes for the upgrade of the 449 Warrior vehicles under WLIP, they will have to buy approx 100 more BGTI systems than currently contracted for.
Also some of the other turret systems, many of which are COTS solutions, have proven and fully integrated FCS and sighting systems from other manufacturers. To mandate BGTI could potentially add additional cost and risk to the programme. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.8 ISSUE 22, 02 June 2006, BAE SYSTEMS AND ABRO SQUARE UP OVER WARRIOR UPGRADE CONTRACT)
However that said BGTI does have the following in its favour. Although not technically the most advanced solution available on the open market, it is in-service with an established logistics & training footprint within UK MoD. It will provide adequate performance for the operational requirements of the Warrior vehicle and is cost effective. Other possible contenders remain the Hägglunds UTAS and GD MK46 sighting systems which are viewed in some quarters as much better but they are also more expensive. The loser in the original BGTI requirement, DRS, which has now developed a strong capability in advanced optical systems may also come back into the fray, this time on its own, not with a UK partner, as it did with Avimo last time. The Avimo/DRS bid was looked upon favourably the last time and now that DRS is ten times the size it was then and has access to the huge DoD R&D fund and has considerable expertise in the Bradley Reset Program and is now fully established in the U.K., we may expect developm