Identification, protection, intelligence gathering, fire control… optronic systems play a critical role in naval operations from high-intensity combat to maritime security and asymmetrical warfare. System performance and efficiency depend not only on the technologies used, but also on the optimal integration of capabilities from passive multispectral imaging and active imaging to laser range-finding, targeting and designation, geolocation, image processing, tracking and stabilisation.
Safran, a leader in optronic devices, produces IR search & track systems for surface warships equipped with sophisticated combat management systems. The Royal Australian Navy has selected the Vampir NG panoramic IRST for its Hobart-class air warfare destroyers, Anzac frigates and LHDs as did the Egyptian Navy for its BPC-type LHDs. The French Navy selected the Vampir NG for its BPC-type LHDs, Floréal-class frigates, and OPV L'Adroit, while the UAE chose it for its Baynunah corvettes. The EOMS NG adds electro-optical gun fire control to the Vampir NG’s capabilities.
EOMS NG (© : Safran)
The new Paseo family’s NS versions offer excellent target identification and tracking performance for precision all-weather day/night fire control against air and sea targets, while the XLR versions offer the same capabilities plus enhanced range. Paseo FCSs can be used in autonomous mode or integrated with the host vessel’s CMS. The sensors (MWIR, HDTV, SWIR and/or LRF, depending on the model) are integrated in a stabilised sensor module.
These systems form an integral part of the host vessel's self-defence suite along with its decoy launchers and anti-air missiles or guns. IR technologies are particularly useful against missiles using a combination of passive and GPS guidance. In combat scenarios demanding radio silence, IRST systems supply intelligence; on carriers, they are part of the flight deck suite.
Vigy Observer (© : Safran)
For smaller platforms, Safran developed the compact gyrostabilised Vigy Observer multi-sensor turret. This product uses proven technologies including the same IR sensors as JIM binoculars and the same mechanical assemblies as Safran optronic turrets for armoured vehicles. VO turrets are compact, easy to integrate, and effective at platform speeds in excess of 50kts. They offer accurate geolocation while enabling the operator to observe and identify targets by day or night. VO turrets thus improve platform defences against asymmetric targets. Boatbuilder Couach chose the VO turret for FIC 1300 interceptors supplied to India.
(© : Marine nationale)
Optronic systems are vital components of a submarine’s surface sensors. Safran is working on innovative programmes to develop non-penetrating masts and periscopes. Already a key supplier for DCNS-designed Scorpenes, Safran will supply similar items for France’s Barracuda SSNs, Sweden’s planned type A26 SSKs and South Korea’s type KSS III. These multi-sensor systems ensure the optimal exploitation of high-definition imagery via the host vessel’s CMS.
Sea-based aircraft operations also benefit from optronic systems. Gyrostabilised Euroflir ‘balls’ are used on NH90, EC725 and Panther helicopters. The Euroflir 350 and 410 NG have also been successfully tested with the Patroller UAV. Both feature a HDTV channel and a laser range-finder offering a resolution of 10mm at a range of several kilometres.
Euroflir 410 (© : Safran)