Threats at sea under surveillance
Australia has consolidated its position as the number one client for the Vampir NG (New Generation Naval Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system), having decided at the end of 2008 to equip its future helicopter carriers and AWD (air warfare destroyers). The Navy was won over by the excellent operational cost-to-performance ratio and by the maintenance solutions proposed for this new generation equipment. Following a previous contract concerning Anzac frigates, the Australian Navy will ultimately be in possession of 25 of these systems.
Developed by Sagem (SAFRAN Group), the Vampir NG is the third generation of this Search & Track system. "Currently, the frigates of the French Navy are equipped with an older version of Vampir. They are due for retrofitting in order to benefit from the performance of this new-generation version," explains Pierre-Olivier Nougues, Sagem sales manager. This infrared system offers detection capability that complements the existing radar. Equipped with an infrared camera that scans the horizon through 360°, the Vampir NG, thanks to its IRST (InfraRed Search and Track) capability, identifies hotspots and then focuses on the object to enable its precise identification. The image processing provides real-time information about the position and speed of the target. This information is then sent to the vessel's combat system.
Multiple detection capacity
"The detection capacity of the Vampir NG is particularly adapted to the problems faced today," explains Pierre-Olivier Nougues. "It is capable of alerting the ship's crew both to the approach of asymmetric threats such as drones, jet skis and the fast, small craft favored by pirates, as well as to symmetrical threats. In particular, it can detect incoming sea-skimming missiles, which radar cannot do." It is also capable of distinguishing moving targets on the coastline, and assisting helicopters in deck-landings. Furthermore, with its gyrostabilized infrared sensors, the Vampir NG can detect aerial threats at a distance of up to twenty kilometers, by day or night.
These optronics technologies are not meant solely for the Naval armed forces. Sagem is currently developing Virma, a civil solution designed to protect merchant vessels against sea piracy.
* Sagem is the trade name of the Sagem Défense Sécurité company.