EO/IR- A Game Changer of Modern Day Warfare

Electro optical systems are used in Aerial, Land and Naval platforms form target detection, tracking. EO/IR countermeasures and targeting. Infrared Search and Track (IRST) is used in aircrafts to detect and track using the heat signature. Aircrafts use Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) is used to detect and tack targets directly in front of the aircraft and Downward Looking Infrared (DLIR) is used to detect and track targets below the aircraft. IRST targeting pods are also used as plug and play component depending on the mission requirement. Targeting pods are also used to passively detect and track airborne threats.

Traditional IR countermeasures such as flares are not effective against modern IR missiles. Directional infrared countermeasure such as Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ – 24(V) provides protection to aircrafts from IR guided missiles. Some of the key features of DIRCM are detect and defect multiple threats, accurate detection and jamming and complete end to end self-testing. EO/IR payloads have now become an integral part of unmanned aerial vehicles. The procurement of UAVs is increasing due to their cost advantage over manned aerial platforms. EO/IR systems are used to detect, track and engage ground targets for precision strikes. The payloads are also used in ISR role to monitor enemy movement and identify threats. EO/IR sensors on-board helicopters provide excellent target sight and fire control system capability. UCAVs have proven to be effective in the Ukraine – Russia conflict.

Ukrainian forces have deployed Baykar Bayraktar TB2, these UCAVs are capable of carrying laser guided bombs and air to surface missiles that can carry out precision strikes. Russian forces have deployed the Orion combat UAVs, these UCAVs are capable of carrying laser guided missiles and air to air munitions. Orion UCAVS have been deployed to take on the Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drones.TB2 and Orion UAVs with EO/IR payload have been used for the ISR roles as well. Loitering munitions also carry EO/IR payloads. Recoverable loitering munitions with EO/IR payloads are deployed to carry out ISR sorties. The Bayraktar TB 2 is capable of carrying the Aselsan Common Aperture Targeting System, which is an EO reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system.  

EO/IR thermal imaging systems are used on IFVs, Anti-Aircraft Vehicles and Main Battle Tanks. EO/IR systems provide best all weather target sight solutions for these vehicles with high magnification. Drive periscope systems offer day and night advanced vision capability for the drive of armored vehicles. The systems are resilient to dust, smoke and fire hence providing the driver with excellent situational awareness and convenient driving. Laser warning receiver systems detects threats to the vehicle which include Laser Range Finders, Laser Beam Riders used by ATGMS and Laser Designators. The laser warning receiver system activates countermeasures of the vehicles depending on the threat detected. The system is critical for the survivability of the vehicle and its crew.

 EO/IR situational awareness systems have boosted situational awareness of the dismounted soldier and ensures operational effectiveness and survivability. Lightweight laser range finder and designator provides quick acquisition and designation of high value targets capability for the dismounted soldier. Vehicle mounted laser range finder and designator provides the warfighter with the ability to designate moving and stationary targets from the safety of their armored vehicles. Lightweight night vision monoculars, bioculars and handheld EO systems will see significant demand as nations are upgrading their soldier systems with advanced state of the art equipment.

Maritime EO/IR sensors are a critical part of the ships electronic charting for navigation. Some of the most advanced EO/IR systems can detect, track and identify targets autonomously such as airborne and surface threats. Space based IR systems are a critical part of a nations ballistic missile defense systems. GEO satellites with IR payload can detect and track ballistic missiles from launch to the death of the missile. Submarine periscope thermal camera are critical for surface surveillance and long range surveillance. Periscope thermal cameras are present within the submarine periscope systems. One of the key feature of the OE system is motorised focus to increase the speed on target detection and tracking. Motorised FOV and Zoom adjustment for enhanced speed and image quality. Automatic image optimization and image enhancement is also integrated in the EO system to enhance and maintain the quality of the image.

The use of ATGMs in the current Russia – Ukraine conflict have proved to be successful in defeating armored vehicles. All shoulder I fires missiles such as ATGMs and anti-aircraft missiles require thermal sights for locking on to the target and engaging the target. Proven effectiveness of ATGMs and anti-aircraft missiles. There will be significant demand for these missile such as Javelin and anti air Strela systems from NATO nations going forwards. Hence there will be significant demand for the missile launcher EO sighting systems.

The prevailing geo political situation in Europe will be a significant driver for the EO systems and their proliferation. All the above mentioned EO system will be a critical asset for any modern army. It is evident that the main drivers of OE systems will be UAV EO payloads and soldier carried lightweight EO systems.

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