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Gimballed rolling eyes.

Gimballed payloads are indispensible for military operations. Using advanced optics such as infrared and CCD television cameras, they can see events several miles away with a clarity that one would expect to see at the cinema. Several payloads offer integral laser rangefinders, pointers and designations, giving weapons a precise fix on their destination.

Australia's V-Tol Aerospace produces the i-Gimbal stabilised pay-load which contains an optional CCD television camera, active and passive infrared sensors, a thermal imaging camera, laser-rangefinders and a laser designator. UAV Vision of Sydney builds a number of gimballed payloads, including the GD170 Mini Gyro Dome, the VD170 Mini Velocity Dome, CM280. CM380 and GOM400. The GD170 is a daytime, high-resolution camera system designed for installation on drones, helicopters and light aircraft. This two-axis, gyro stabilised unit includes a camera with x26 zoom. The VD170 Mini Velocity Dome is designed to equip small drones, and has a x36 zoom. The CM280 product is constructed from carbon fibre and Kevlar and can be mounted on a range of platforms from helicopters to small radio-controlled aircraft. The company's three-axis CM380 Gyro Stabilised Lightweight Camera and GOM400 weigh up to three and 4.5 kg respectively.


Sagem of France produces the Olosp 250, which equips all Sperwer drones manufactured thus far, but the company is currently offering the new-generation Euroflir 350 as part of a modernisation programme. The same Euroflir 350 is also being retrofitted onto the French Army's Eurocopter AS-532 Cougar helicopters. In addition to the 350, Sagem has developed the larger Euroflir 410, which has been adopted as a retrofit for the French Navy's Eurocopter AS-565MA Panther helicopters. The Euroflir 410 has also been installed on all of NH Industries" NH90 Nato Frigate Helicopters and has been selected by Oman for its own NH90s. The payload contains a High-Definition (HD) television camera, thermal imager camera and eye-safe laser rangefinder, but a weapon laser pointer is also being offered as an option.

Thales Optronique's Agile product line includes the Agile 2 and Agile 4 with colour CCD cameras, a laser rangefinder and laser pointer. The 20-kg Agile 2 has xl2.5 continuous zoom, with the 23-kg Agile 4 capable of x22.5 continuous zoom. The two systems can be linked to an aircraft's radar, GPS/INS (Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System), moving map or searchlight.

Germany's Carl Zeiss Optronics builds several stabilised payload systems for helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and drones. These include the Goshawk 350, Leo-II-A3, Leo-II-A5, Leo-III-HD and Argos 410-Z. The Goshawk-350, which equips the Denel Seeker drone, can be slaved to an aircraft's searchlight and includes an eyesafe laser rangefinder. In terms of day and night payloads, a choice of medium or long-wave thermal imager cameras is available, as well as a colour zoom, and black and white television cameras. The Leo-II-A3 and Leo-II-A5 have a colour zoom television camera, thermal imager, wide-spectrum spotter television camera plus an optional laser rangefinder; a high definition version of this system designated Leo-III-HD is also available. Finally, the Argos 410-Z payload carries a laser pointer, laser rangefinder. colour television camera and thermal imager system.

Italy's Selex Galileo produces the Titan 385ES Multi-Sensor Turret system, which has an infrared sensor along with a colour CCD camera, low-light television camera and a laser rangefinder. The Titan 385ES weighs 48 kg and has a 385-mm turret diameter. Selex also produces the Eost-45/M-Geos multi-sensor turret, which includes colour and black and white television cameras plus a thermal imager. This payload is used on the Galileo Avionica Falco drone. The company's Eost-46 high-performance surveillance and tracking system includes daylight television, long-range colour television and infrared cameras, plus a laser rangefinder, while the company's Eost-23 product includes monochrome, colour television and infrared cameras. Finally, Selex Galileo's Eost-55 stabilised surveillance platform comes equipped with a colour television camera, thermal imager and auto-tracker.

Sweden's Swesystem builds the Explore family of gimballed payloads, including the four-axis Explore 300 HD which is equipped with a high definition camera and thermal imager. Other members of the family include the four-axis, gyro-stabilised Explore 300 ultraviolet gimbal, containing an ultraviolet imager and colour television camera. One of the company's latest products is the 400 Triple payload with infrared, ultraviolet and HD television cameras.


Israel's Elbit Electro-optics builds a number of sensor systems. These include the Compass, DCompass, Microcompass and Amps (Advanced Multisensor Payload System) payloads. Compass (Compact Multipurpose Advanced Stabilised System) is a day and night, 391-mm diameter payload is used on the Bell 212, Hal Cheetah, Eurocopter Panther and AgustaWest-land Sea King helicopter; various frigates, missile boats and other naval vessels; in addition to Elbit Hermes 450 drones, and aerostats. The DCompass is a variant of the Compass system with full, open digital architecture that is also used on the Hermes 450. The system is a gimballed turret that can provide day and night target recognition and designation. Elop's Microcompass is a compact 20.3-mm pay-load used on the Elbit Skylark II drone. This provides day and night targeting capabilities. The Amps provides long-range target recognition and identification and can be used to this end for intelligence gathering. This payload has been integrated onto the Beechcraft King Air B200.

Israel Aircraft Industries' Tamam division's products include the Minipop day and night stabilised turret, which is equipped with a daylight television camera and thermal imager, along with an optional laser rangefinder and laser pointer. The one-kilo, 101-mm diameter Micropop equips the AAI Shadow 200 and the Ruag Ranger drones, and contains uncooled thermal imager and daylight continuous zoom cameras. At the larger end of the company's product spectrum, its Multi-Mission Optronic Stabilised Payload (Mosp) is used on the IAI Hunter and IAI Searcher 2 drones and is equipped with either a monochrome or colour CCD camera plus a flir system and laser designator. The HMosp version of this payload is designed for helicopters and contains an eye-safe laser rangefinder together with a laser designator and pointer. As its name suggests, the Seamosp is designed for maritime craft. It includes television and flir systems, a laser range finder, laser pointer and automatic video tracker. The Mosp-3000 can be slaved to a weapon's bore-sight and is designed to equip ground vehicles, aerostats, naval vessels, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

Rafael's Toplite is a stabilised, multi-sensor, electro-optical observation and targeting system used by both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft such as the Bell 412, Sikorsky UH-60, Eurocopter SA-330, Lockheed Martin C-130H, King Air B200 and Pilatus PC-6.

Controp Precision Technologies builds the D-Stamp, ESP-600C, ESI-1, DSP-1, MSSP-1 and MSSP-3 stabilised payloads. D-Stamp is a daylight stabilised miniature system designed to equip micro-sized drones, along with ground vehicles, aerostats and small maritime craft. Weighing around 650 grams, the unit contains a high-resolution colour CCD camera with x10 zoom. Also designed for daylight applications is the ESP-600C high-resolution colour observation pay-load, which is used on the IAI Scout and IAI Searcher drones. The ESP-600C weighs 12.3 kg and is 300 mm in diameter. The system carries a pair of high-resolution CCD cameras with up to x15 zoom. Controp Precision Technologies' ESI-1 stabilised camera system has a x16 zoom camera, a weight of 13.1 kg and a 300-mm diameter. In terms of day and night stabilised sensor payloads, the company's DSP-1 is designed for drones, light aircraft and patrol vessels. The product has both a forward-looking infrared and daylight colour CCD camera, with up to x30 zoom and x20 zoom respectively. The MSSP-1 Multi-Sensor Stabilised Payload is designed for use on attack helicopters and contains a flir, colour CCD camera with x15 zoom and a laser rangefinder. The company's MSSP-3 Maritime Obser vation Payload, used by patrol vessels and maritime patrol aircraft, includes a flir, plus black and white and colour CCD cameras with a x15 zoom.

Bental produces the Microbat 275 gim-balled payload for mini- and micro-drones. Weighing just 350 grams the Microbat 275 contains a Sony FCB-001 AP daylight camera with a x10 zoom. The unit can also be fitted with an optional night payload. Bental has recently unveiled a new member of the Microbat family called Aqua Microbat. Sharing similar capabilities to the Microbat 275, the Aqua adds an immersion capability and can be installed on a variety of vessels and amphibious platforms. The company also produces two other gimballed payloads; the Microbat 400 has a 100 mm diameter, along with the larger Microbat 200 mm system. As well as equipping mini- and micro-drones, the Microbat series can equip unmanned ground vehicles and guided weapons. Bental can supply the Microbat payloads with optional GPS units and ground control stations.


L-3 Communications Wescam designs and manufactures the MX-15 and MX-20 families of gimballed payloads. Built to customer specification, the MX-15 offers up to six sensors including television cameras, infrared, laser illuminators, rangefinders and designators. Variants of the MX-15 are used in drones, fixed-wing aircraft such as C-130s and rotary-wing aircraft such as the MD Helicopters MD-530F Little Bird. The company also builds the MX-15 1080p True HD variant, which offers a laser designator. The MX-20 product uses the same modular payload architecture and has similar specifications to the MX-15 system, with the exception of an optional eye-safe laser rangefinder. A high-definition variant of the MX-20, called the MX-20 1080p True HD, offers seven sensors including television, infrared, laser illuminators and a rangefinder.

Cloud Cap Technology produces the Tase family of gimballed payloads. The range includes the baseline Tase model with an onboard GPS and a daylight television, infrared and short-wave infrared cameras. Cloud Cap's T2 gimbal system is larger than the Tase and includes television and infrared cameras plus a laser rangefinder. The Tase Duo gimbal includes an infrared and television camera, while the Tase LT is designed for nose-mounting on small drones.

DRS Technologies builds the GS207 Stabilised Multi-Sensor Gimbal. This contains both low-light television and infrared cameras. Optional eye-safe laser rangefinders and an integrated tracking system are also available. DRS notes that the GS207 can be installed on patrol craft, drones, manned aircraft and ground vehicles such as Humvees.

Flir Systems produces several gimballed sensor products including the Britestar II, Talon, Pathfinder, Photon 320, Photon 640 and the Star Safire HD designs that are used on fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and drones. Britestar II is a laser designation and long-range thermal imager system with an integrated boresight module to provide in-flight laser aim-point accuracy validation, and an integrated laser cooling system to ensure a continuous laser firing capability. Optional extras for the Britestar II include MIL-STD-1553B compatibility and RS-232/422 interfaces, a laser pointer and an autotracker. Talon provides thermal imaging, laser range-finding and visible sensing, and is designed as a surveillance and reconnaissance system for drones and manned aircraft. Also ideal for pitotless aircraft is the company's Cobalt 195, a compact thermal imager payload. Weighing 7.7 kg this system provides a thermal imager, television camera, laser rangefinder, laser designator and laser pointer. Flir Systems claim that its Photon-320 military-qualified thermal imager system has chalked-up sales of more than 18,000 products delivered to a series of small unmanned vehicle programmes. The next generation of the company's Photon thermal imager system is the Photon 640, which features a 640 x 502 uncooled VOx micro-bolometer. Flir Systems' Star Safire HD was reportedly the first high-definition, all digital stabilised thermal imager system to reach the market and can provide accurate measure out to 25 km.

L-3 Communications produces the Sonoma M12 long-range imaging system which is equipped with a thermal imager and high-resolution daylight camera for night/day operation. The company's Model 12DS/TS-200 includes a colour television camera, thermal imager and optional infrared illuminator, while the Model 12DS/T-200 can be connected to a searchlight, moving map display, GPS and radar. The Sonoma MX-12 Skyball-II has an integral laser rangefinder and illuminator, daylight colour television camera with a zoom lens, plus an infrared camera. The Model 14 Skyball gimballed turret is outfitted with an eyesafe laser rangefinder, laser illuminator, thermal imager, daylight colour television camera with a x20 zoom and a daylight colour television camera with a long-range spotter lens. This pay-load equips the General Atomics RQ-1A Predator drone. Designed for high-altitude operations, the Sonoma 474 gimballed turret features a laser rangefinder and a visible, and infrared spectrum telescope. Also designed for high-altitude ops is the Sonoma 494 which includes an eyesafe laser rangefinder and a 279-mm telescope.

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems produces the Raven Eye 1, which can be slaved to a drones' navigation or radar system, and includes a colour television camera, flir and an optional video tracker. The company's Raven Eye-II, developed in conjunction with Tamam (see above), includes a similar sensor fit with the addition of a laser designator and rangefinder. Other Northrop Grumman gimballed sensor products include the Night Hunter II, which is equipped with a flir and spotter CCD television camera, television camera with x26 zoom, laser rangefinder, laser designator and an inertial navigation sensor. The Night Hunter-II also has a scalable turret design according to the size of air vehicle in which it will sit.
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Title Annotation:Sensors
Author:Withington, Thomas
Publication:Armada International
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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