Proceedings PaperAirborne Use of Night Vision Systems
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Mission Management Department of the Royal Aerospace Establishment has won a Queen's Award for Technology, jointly with GEC Sensors, in recognition of innovation and success in the development and application of night vision technology for fixed wing aircraft. This work has been carried out to satisfy the operational needs of the Royal Air Force. These are seen to be: - Operations in the NATO Central Region - To have a night as well as a day capability - To carry out low level, high speed penetration - To attack battlefield targets, especially groups of tanks - To meet these objectives at minimum cost The most effective way to penetrate enemy defences is at low level and survivability would be greatly enhanced with a first pass attack. It is therefore most important that not only must the pilot be able to fly at low level to the target but also he must be able to detect it in sufficient time to complete a successful attack. An analysis of the average operating conditions in Central Europe during winter clearly shows that high speed low level attacks can only be made for about 20 per cent of the 24 hours. Extending this into good night conditions raises the figure to 60 per cent. Whilst it is true that this is for winter conditions and in summer the situation is better, the overall advantage to be gained is clear. If our aircraft do not have this capability the potential for the enemy to advance his troops and armour without hinderance for considerable periods is all too obvious. There are several solutions to providing such a capability. The one chosen for Tornado GR1 is to use Terrain Following Radar (TFR). This system is a complete 24 hour capability. However it has two main disadvantages, it is an active system which means it can be jammed or homed into, and is useful in attacking pre-planned targets. Second it is an expensive system which precludes fitting to other than a small number of aircraft.