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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

21 January 2015

DGI 2015: Saab Vricon Closely Following SOF for Vricon 3D Data Mapping System

Saab Vricon has revealed it is closely following Special Operations Forces (SOF) requirements for its Vricon 3D data mapping system, MT has been informed.

According to Saab Vricon’s VP for marketing and global accounts, Manne Anliot, the company is pursuing the SOF market at first as they see an obvious fit with its offering and that such force elements are often quick to take advantage of new technology.. However, he urged that the technology, which rapidly produces 3D geodata with high accuracy and resolution, is of interest to the wider armed forces worldwide.

Vricon’s patented technology primarily uses satellite imagery to provide 3D data of very large areas of interest (AoI) which could be used for mission planning, global targeting grids, advanced analytics and even navigation in a GPS-denied environment, Anliot explained. The 3D data is provided as a textured Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN).

To date, Vricon has been evaluated by several NATO SOF organisations and was used by Swedish armed forces as part of the coalition capability Exercise Bold Quest in 2013 for close air support (CAS) taskings.

Here, Swedish operators utilised simple lightweight laser rangefinders to identify a building before mensurating  the target coordinate on a tablet end user device, uploaded with Vricon software integrated into the Fires control system FACNAV. From here, targeting information could be confirmed and updated before being networked to a tactical operations centre of supporting CAS platform.

However, the Vricon technology is not limited to using satellite imagery as input.Manned and unmanned airborne assets could also be used for image registration,  for example using a 20kg electro-optical payload originally designed for carriage on board the SHADOW 200 UAV (Geo-referencing of imagery is a separate technology from the production of 3D datasets. By geo-referencing imagery on top of Vricon 3D data, the accuracy of the metadata is improved substantially). Such technology will be of interest to SOF organisations for a detailed study of an AoI, especially for military operations in urban terrain (MOUT).

SOF units have previously relied on alternative technologies such as LIDAR which rely upon a payload operating from within the AoI. Vricon technology, by relying on satellite constellations, will therefore reduce footprints on the ground and subsequently threat of compromise.

Vricon’s 3D modelling capability provides global coverage and a resolution of 0.5m based  on DigitalGlobe’s satellite constellation. However, Anliot stressed that Vricon is sensor agnostic and could be used in collaboration with any satellite constellations.

The absolute accuracy is 3m  in all three dimensions, Spherical Error 90%, as proven under operational conditions, without using ground control points. The 3D data is complete with high-resolution, true textures covering all sides of the structures and terrain,” he continued. “This is a Big Data solution and Vricon is taking advantage of the massive amount of imagery available today, especially from satellite  image archives.”

Illustrating the technology with examples of the Presidential Palace in Damascus and Tabqa Dam in Ar-Raqqah, Syria as well as Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility in North Korea, Saab Vricon revealed that it could process 100km2 of imagery in just 20 minutes.

However, depending upon the size of AoI required by a military customer, Anliot said it could normally take two weeks to provide approximately 10,000sqkm of coverage area. “Faster priority deliveries are available,” he added.

Finally, Anliot revealed that the company was now offering its Digital Surface Model (DSM) variant which is also produced from satellite and airborne imagery. Such a capability provides accurate measurement in elevation of objects within the AoI. Similar to the 3D modelling, there is no requirement for ground control points.
Andrew White

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