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overmatch in night fighting capability for Australian
Force Elements” said the spokesperson.
Because Defence requires organisations submitting
tenders to refrain from public comment during the
tender evaluation phase, APDR has found it difficult to
firstly identify, and subsequently obtain any information,
from the likely contenders.
A typical response came from Thales Australia
where their spokesman told APDR “As a world
leader in optronics, Thales is pursuing the LAND 53
opportunity and is now awaiting the results of the
ongoing customer evaluation. Thales’s light, innovative
and rugged solutions significantly improve user
awareness and mobility, delivering numerous benefits
to soldiers on operations.”
Defence state ‘It is intended that the acquisition cycle
will support the Army’s Force Generation Cycle and
will provide the most advanced, technically mature
Night Fighting Equipment throughout the procurement
Opportunities seen for the Australian Defence
Industry are to provide education and training on
the chosen devices; logistics support; refurbish and
upgrade services; test and evaluation services. It
would be unlikely if an industry contender was chosen
which did not offer this range of services either on their
own, or in partnership with or sub-contracting out to
Other industry opportunities include research and
development; systems definition and development;
modelling and simulation of NFE usage; software
development and support; installation design;
manufacture and construction of the MOTS devices;
assembly and installation of the chosen equipment.
In terms of maintaining equipment serviceability,
Defence advise that ‘The expectation is that ADF will
be responsible to maintain NFE at the operator and
light grade repair levels. An in-service support contract
for medium grade repair levels will be established at
the time of acquisition.’
NV technology uses two main approaches, either infra-
red illumination or light amplification.
When APDR asked a Thales Australia spokesman
about technology generations he said “The term
‘generation’ is now generally considered to be
outdated. It has been superseded in the low light
space by a reference to Image Intensified (II) tube
or NV system Figure of Merit (FOM). Figures of
Merit are derived empirically from the relationship
between signal to noise ratio, tube resolution and,
when considered as a system, the optical aperture as
well. Thales’s current Night Vision products compete
at all FOM levels. Thales is an NV system OEM, not
an II tube OEM. Thales maintains a policy of II tube
The revolutionary INTENSTM Technology developed
by PHOTONIS, which it provides in its newest II tubes,
is compliant with the new 4G night vision standard.
PHOTONIS has a combat proven and revolutionary
technology that overtakes the performance of gallium
arsenide II tubes widely deployed in the past. They claim
this technology provides about 40% more efficiency in
DRI (Detection, Recognition and Identification) when
compared with older equipment.
They explained to APDR that INTENSTM collects
photons in the UV (below 400 nm) and IR part (above
900 nm) of the light spectrum and that makes missions
possible in all kinds of terrain (from sea shores, more
in the blue spectrum, to jungle and moonless nights,
more in the red spectrum), with just one II tube.
UNITED STATES ARMY NFE
BAE Systems Australia is an existing supplier of
NFE to the ADF. They have completed multiple ADF
contracts for supply and service of devices. Because
of the current sensitivity with Tender Evaluation for
LAND 53 1BR they declined to comment on the
record on what they have been offering to the ADF.
In the United States it is a different story.
Those who remember fieldcraft lectures and
exercises from their basic military training will know
the descriptor ‘5 S’s and an M’ for detecting and
subsequently targeting an adversary. These are shape,
size, sound, shine, silhouette and movement.
In many countries a lot of research and development
is being conducted to improve individual soldier
capability and effectiveness when firing personal
weapons. Currently, a soldier at night spots a target
with night vision goggles and then separately locks in
on it with the thermal sight on their rifle.
On 4 May 2015 there was a formal announcement
that the United States Army has just awarded BAE
Systems US (BAES-US) a five year contract worth
up to $US 434m to develop a system that integrates
night vision capability and thermal targeting sights onto
The joint project calls for BAES-US to work with
the US Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors
Directorate to create a night vision riflescope that
transmits video to a linked set of wearable goggles.
‘BAE Systems is currently qualifying and initiating
production of the integrated night vision targeting
solution for deployment to the field,’ BAES-US said in
The idea now is to give soldiers a combination night
vision and thermal imaging system that not only allows
them to quickly spot and engage targets in all weather
and lighting conditions, but also to remotely aim their
weapons without looking through the sights.
‘On today's battlefield, this slower (two optic)
approach, which is often further hampered by heavy
smoke or bad weather, compromises soldiers' safety
and can reduce mission effectiveness,"’ advised
‘By integrating night vision and thermal targeting
capabilities into one sight displayed on the soldiers'
goggles, BAE Systems' new solution allows troops to
more easily acquire targets and engage faster.’
The rifle-mounted optic will use a Bluetooth
connection to beam images to a head-mounted
display, allowing a soldier to quickly toggle between
the two modes at the push of a button.
LAND 53 FUTURE PHASES
Phase 1BR of this project is concerned with replacing
NFE for individual soldiers.
The public version of Defence Capability Plan 2012
states ‘LAND 53 is a multi-phased project intended
to provide a suite of night fighting equipment (NFE),
surveillance and target acquisition systems. These
include perimeter surveillance equipment, NFE, ground
surveillance radar and thermal surveillance systems
that provide land forces with detection, recognition
and identification capabilities under various battlefield
‘Integration and interoperability linkages exist with
other projects delivering elements of the soldier system,
surveillance systems and combat identification.’
The Force Structure Review (FSR) is currently
looking at a broad range of capabilities for the
development of a balanced and affordable future force.
This will inform the Defence White Paper, Defence
Capability Plan and Defence Capability Guide all due
out in 2016 and will provide more information about
these phases and their timing.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
When a preferred tenderer is selected and
the documents completed for submission to the
Commonwealth for Second Pass Approval (SPA).
There is unlikely to be any public announcement before
SPA is obtained.
The Commonwealth will then enter into detailed
contractual negotiations with the preferred tenderer.
Initial Material Release and Initial Operating
Capability will be reached between FY 2017 and
FY 2019, so by mid-2019 there will be new and
more effective night fighting equipment starting in
operational service with the Army’s soldiers.
3/12/2015 6:37 pm
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