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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

29 March 2016

FIDAE 2016: Airbus DS Optronics Introduces Gunner Sensors

At FIDAE 2016, the Optronics product line of Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security (EBS) presents easily integratable sensor solutions to increase combat efficiency and to extend the product life cycles of armoured vehicles, enabling users to retain their fighting ability without having to invest in a completely new weapon system. Airbus DS Optronics has developed the state-of-the-art sensors ATTICA-GL (Gunner LEOPARD) and ATTICA-GM (Gunner MARDER), allowing gunners to fulfil their missions effectively at day or night and despite detrimental weather conditions. These will replace the obsolete thermal imager WBG-X, which is currently used in the LEOPARD main battle tank (MBT) and the MARDER infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). As of December 2015, WBG-X can no longer be fully serviced.

ATTICA-GL and -GM alike follow a plug&play approach. With identical mechanical and electrical interfaces and space, these upgrade solutions can easily replace WBG-X. Both provide the user with the same long ranges. Both sight systems offer the same night sight performance. This facilitates combined arms operations. While the systems are not interchangeable, the high commonality of parts makes for easier logistics.

On average, an LEOPARD 2 MBT is expected to be in service until at least 2030. Its performance can be greatly improved with state-of-the-art sensor solutions, such as ATTICA-GL, the thermal imager for the gunner’s primary sight. The third generation thermal imager was specifically designed for the LEOPARD tank. It offers a much higher image quality than its predecessors WBG-X or OPHELIOS, the thermal imagers of the first and second generation, respectively. Beyond that, its identification range has more than doubled as compared to the WBG-X. The gunner is thus enabled to detect, recognize and identify targets at greater distances, and to take appropriate action. ATTICA-GL furthermore offers a number of optional functions, such as an automatic focus, homogenisation, dynamic compression and edge enhancement, as well as a 2x digital zoom. It is also possible to add an additional monitor. ATTICA-GL is the perfect addition to Airbus DS Optronics’ LEOPARD 2 commander sight solutions PERI R17 and PERI RTWL. With both, gunner and commander seeing the same image in the same high quality, mission efficiency can be greatly increased.

ATTICA-GL fits all LEOPARD 2 configurations and the LEOPARD 1 A5. To facilitate the upgrade, ATTICA-GL uses the same control interfaces as WBG-X. The fully qualified gunner thermal imager was officially introduced by the LEOBEN community. The Canadian Army is the first LEOBEN nation to use it. The aim of standardising the LEOPARD user nations’ configuration of their tanks leads to the expectation of further orders from the LEOBEN community. ATTICA-GL is also a component of Qatar’s LEOPARD 2 A7+.

On the basis of ATTICA-GL, Airbus DS Optronics has also developed an upgrade solution for the MARDER IFV, ATTICA-GM. It is used by the German Bundeswehr for an upgrade of the IFV. On average, a MARDER currently in use is expected to be commissioned until 2030 and beyond.

With these sensors, the gunner is able to gauge the vehicle’s surroundings. He can thus detect and engage targets on the move and at long range much faster, speeding up his response time considerably. Among the functions of  ATTICA-GM are a 2x digital zoom, automatic focus, homogenization and edge enhancement. The system consists of an ATTICA thermal imager with a monitor for the gunner, a monitor for the commander and a new operator unit. The latter allows the user to benefit from all of the additional functions.