02 Mar 05. Following a series of demanding trials including the conversion of an Armoured Infantry Battalion, the Thales UK Battle Group Thermal Imaging system (BGTI) has been accepted into service with the British Army. This advanced technology which gives troops the ability to see, locate and engage targets at far longer ranges than ever before will be fitted in the Warrior Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the Scimitar Reconnaissance Vehicle, over 600 vehicles in total. This follows our story with regard to the integration of BGTI by GD(UK) as part of the BOWMAN Programme (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 7, 21st February 2005, BOWMAN – MEETING THE MILESTONES)
Comprising a stabilised Gunners Sighting System, a Commanders Crew Station, a GPS based Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) and a Drivers Display, the BGTI system significantly enhances, with state of the art technology, the fighting effectiveness of the Warrior and Scimitar vehicles to detect and engage targets. The advanced new thermal imager gives much improved situational awareness at night and in poor visibility, while the eyesafe laser rangefinder, fire control system and INS provide far target locations and own position with increased accuracy and robustness.
On the Warrior Recovery and Repair vehicle the system improves the existing Thales Raven Sight by introducing the latest uncooled thermal imaging (TI) technology to replace the existing image intensified channel. This upgrade represents the first uncooled TI to enter service on a UK vehicle and follows the Thales tradition of providing innovative and affordable technology to the British Army.
The importance of sustainability is also addressed within the BGTI contract, which includes a 15 year performance based Contractor Logistic Support (CLS) element where payment is largely based upon achieving system reliability and availability.
Colonel Charles Hookey, Close Armour IPT Leader said that he “was delighted that the Thales team were so clearly focused on delivering a good product, were so flexible and were happy to work so hard with the Close Armour IPT to achieve this excellent result. BGTI will give the British Army a significant tactical advantage over less well-equipped potentially hostile armies; it will hugely improve the effectiveness of a typical armoured battlegroup equipped with Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Scimitar. Using BGTI, vehicle commanders will be able to see more than twice as far at night and in bad weather than is now possible. BGTI produces a very clear picture of the tell-tale heat signatures of vehicles and soldiers. ”
Since contract award, a number of amendments have been incorporated to align BGTI with the Bowman programme. The most important of these being the installation of a MilCAN bus , which allows interfacing between BGTI and the Battlefield Management System (BMS) embodied within the Bowman communications system. The interfacing of BGTI to the Platform Battlefield Infrastructure System Application (P-BISA) via the MilCAN bus is central to the efficient routing of data around the vehicle and the transfer of vehicle and target information to other assets on the battlefield.
The fitting of the Warrior and Scimitar vehicles with BGTI is being co-ordinated with the Bowman system installation and is well under way at three sites in the UK, Germany and Canada.
Chris Gane, the Vice President of Defence Optronics, said “ the acceptance of BGTI into service marks another proud moment in the long association between the British Army and Thales UK. We are already looking to the future by undertaking further development of the BGTI sub-systems as well as pursuing export opportunities.”