VALCARTIER, Québec — Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) Valcartier, an agency of the Department of National Defence, has developed futuristic technologies capable of being integrated to light armoured vehicles (LAV III) used by the Canadian Forces. If you think you're equipped with the latest technology, think again! DRDC scientists and technicians are currently developing technologies beyond our wildest imaginings!
As part of a project entitled Future Armoured Vehicle System (FAVS), DRDC researchers have, for the first time, integrated situation awareness, defence and navigation systems in the management module of a LAV III. To do this, they have developed a new vehicle radar system, an infrared camera, self-protection systems, and a head-mounted immersive visualization system. From 6 to 24 September 2004, DRDC conducted tests on all these systems, incorporated into a single LAV III. Let's take a look at some of these technologies.
Vehicle radar and infrared sensors
These two technologies may be different but they fulfill the same purpose: the detection of objectives. In fact, these two complementary systems can automatically sweep the horizon to detect potential targets. The user has only to program the particular area he wishes to observe, and everything is done automatically. The radar, capable of sensing targets up to four kilometres away, is not affected by bad weather because it is based on extremely high frequency detection. The high-resolution infrared camera has three functions: to follow the radar, to align itself with the crew commander's head, and to settle on a fixed point while indicating the proper direction.
Defensive aids suite
This consists of a laser warning detector system and a missile approach warning system that triggers automatic countermeasures. When a laser marks a vehicle, the gun turns automatically in the direction of the threat and readies itself to fire. Should a missile be heading towards the vehicle, the system produces a blinding laser and generates false objectives to change the missile's trajectory.
The data fusion system: the nerve centre of the entire system
Without a doubt, this is the most important component, as it collects the data sent by the radar, infrared camera and laser warning sensors. It eliminates false alarms– objects on the battlefield that may create confusion – and automatically processes information to display the objectives in order of priority. The system also has a vehicle identification bank and can therefore identify the type of target or vehicle observed. The system's recognition rate is highly impressive, exceeding 95% for objectives that occupy an adequate number of pixels!
A 360-degree view…!
A panospheric camera installed on the vehicle offers the crew commander a 360-degree peripheral view outside the vehicle without having to expose himself. Thanks to the head-mounted system, the crew commander enjoys the same view he would have outside the vehicle. Moreover, he sees icons that represent all the potential targets processed by the radar/infrared data fusion system, which defines priorities and identifies the types of the vehicles, their co-ordinates, their distance, etc. The greatest challenge will be to learn the location of the commands on the two joysticks used by the crew commander!
The future at our doorstep
The transition from the M113 armoured personnel carrier to the LAV III represents a huge change in direction for the combat trades. Immediately on receiving the new vehicle, DRDC scientists and technicians were mandated to make the operators' job easier and specifically adapt the vehicles to Canadian missions. The FAVS project has generated a prototype that makes effective use of a variety of technologies at the cutting edge of the weapons industry.
These new technologies may one day play a central role in the next generation of light armoured vehicles. There is little doubt that other countries that use this type of combat vehicle will also be closely following future developments in this area of research.