Bengaluru: It is neither the Tejas nor the Rafale that is turning heads at the Aero India, set to conclude at Yelahanka in Bengaluru Friday.
That accolade has gone to the good old BMP 2, the infantry combat vehicle that plays a crucial role in combat including in Ladakh where it has been deployed in large numbers.
The BMP on display at the Aero India, however, is a refurbished version that addresses one of the combat vehicle’s greatest drawbacks.
As of now, the BMP, being manufactured by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) under license from Russia, lacks night-vision capability, literally leaving it blind when the sun sets.
All that, however, is about to change. A Bengaluru based start-up, Tonbo Imaging, has come up with a solution as part of the Defence India Startup Challenge under the government’s iDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) initiative.
The company has designed technology that it has termed as “see-through armour”. It gives the commander, his driver and the gunman a 360 degree view even at night.
The technology enhances the vehicle’s all-round survivability and provides an extra edge in combat.
Cameras & magnetic trackers
The forces have over the years been complaining that vision in the BMP 2 gets hampered due to smoke, dust, fog and darkness.
Officials at Tonbo told ThePrint that they have worked around it through cameras and magnetic trackers.
“We have now come up with a solution under which nine cameras are installed on the combat vehicle. These cameras are integrated with a helmet display,” Ankit Kumar, managing director of Tonbo Imaging told ThePrint. “When the commander turns right, the headgear displays images of the surroundings onto the insides of the tank as if he was seeing through the armour.”
A magnetic tracker senses the head movement of the wearer and displays video from the same direction, he added.
Company officials explained that the driver’s head-mounted display can also interface with the GPS system for precise manoeuvring and situational assessment.
Another big factor is that the system also displays a wider coverage of targets to the commander, who can then analyse threat levels.
“This helps the commander to prioritise targets real-time and handover to the gunner or engage the target, based on urgency,” Lt Commander D. Rajendrakumar (retd) of Tonbo Imaging said.
The system is scheduled to undergo Army trials soon. Two other startups are also collaborating with OFB but Tonbo Imaging’s system was integrated first and hence on display in Aero India.
While this is the first big project being done by the firm, its sight systems are in use with India’s special forces as well elite regiments of the American and Israeli forces.
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