CMI Defence has integrated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) control into its combat vehicle turrets, a new feature that will extend situational awareness and enhance the indirect firing capabilities of the turrets.
CMI Defence claims that this is the first time that control of a drone has been integrated with such a weapons system. The feature allows the turret crew direct use of data coming from the drone’s optical payload. The new capability was demonstrated at the Eurosatory 2016 exhibition on the company’s flagship Cockerill 3105HP turret, which is equipped with an advanced 105mm gun.
The system has been largely derived from Thales’ field-proven Spy’Ranger drone and Spy’C console. The CMI Defence team has worked closely with Thales to directly run the control software on the Turret Network Controller and the Ballistic Computer of the Cockerill 3105HP turret. The HMI has been adapted to the existing displays used by the crew to facilitate control of the drone and the use of the data coming from the optical gimbal.
The new feature allows:
- Better accuracy in indirect firing via the Forward Observer capability of the drone: target localization and designation, first firing assessment and corrective indication in artillery mode, as well as battle damage assessment.
- Reconnaissance and situational awareness at extended distance, complementing the existing capability of the sighting systems of the turrets.
These new features improve the survivability of light armored vehicles and their weapon systems, improve the crew safety (e.g. in urban areas) and reduce collateral damage by a better assessment of the immediate tactical situation. It is a commander’s “direct-in-hand” capability which complements the traditional Close Air Support and Artillery Support when both are not available.
Jean-Luc Maurange, President of CMI Defence, stated: “At CMI Defence, we constantly develop new solutions to improve the use of Cockerill systems throughout their life-cycle. This UAV integration is another example of how CMI Defence teams respond to the growing needs for versatility on the part of highly mobile armies.”