The British Army has been offered new thermal imaging technology as part of the BAE Systems-led Team Challenger 2 bid to upgrade the service’s main battle tank (MBT).
The technology upgrade would be the first time independent night vision is provided for both the gunner and the commander.
Developed by Leonardo in the UK, the new electro-optic technology will enable the UK troops to identify potential threats and move undetected in hostile situations.
BAE Systems Team Challenger 2 campaign leader Simon Jackson said: “Sighting is a vital element of a battle tank’s role and Leonardo’s sight will provide our troops with unparalleled 24-hour night-and-day visibility, giving them a long-range threat identification system that really makes the most of the tank’s firepower.”
The thermal imaging infrared camera provided by Leonardo senses heat emitted by all objects with temperatures greater than absolute zero (-273°C).
The hundreds-of-thousands of individual pixels in the camera can help detect temperature differences as small as one-fiftieth of a centigrade, thereby providing extremely sharp images.
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Leonardo Optronics Systems UK senior vice-president Mike Gilbert said: “Our thermal cameras – designed and built in the UK – can ‘see’ in total darkness as far as the horizon, and the applications for this technology are endless – from helping improve our understanding of the natural world to improving the operational capabilities of the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank.
“Our infrared technology plays a crucial role in supporting British troops in the most challenging environments and we’re pleased to be working alongside BAE Systems to offer this technology for Challenger 2, helping extend its life to 2035 and beyond.”
The thermal imaging technology has already been proven on other military platforms, such as the UK Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Chinook helicopter fleet.