A new technology introduced promises to give a unique view of the battlefield to the tankers. That too, while keeping them hidden to the enemy fire. Camera systems, which are often linked to the VR headsets can give soldiers a real-time view of the area around them. Tanks are the massive beasts which surround their crew with thick layers of steel, composite and sometimes, even uranium armor is also used. All of this protection makes it hard for the team to see outside the tank and they have to rely entirely on the small vision ports to look around.
The new tech taken from fighter jets has promised to provide a solution to this problem. One of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s most unusual feature is its Distributed Aperture System (DAS) which uses a network of various infrared cameras on the outside of the F-35 to give the pilot a view in all the directions including the back side. This will provide the pilot with exceptional situational awareness in training and combat. A Ukrainian company, LimpidArmor, is conducting tests on a form of DAS for tanks. The company says that its Land Platform Modernization Kit allows a 360-degree real-time battlefield environment delivery to the crew of armored vehicles by using 4 sets of cameras which merge streams and displays it in an operator’s augmented reality glasses. This way the safety of both the crew and the people outside are increased and the team can see in the ‘blind-zones’ as well.
The system is installed on a Ukrainian Army T-84 main battle tank. The Land Platform Modernization Kit uses nearly sixteen image-stabilized camera which provides both day and night vision views in the 360-degree direction. The main idea is to use the kit as a commercial technology especially by using Microsoft’s Hololens mixed reality headset. The headset attaches to the tanker’s helmet just like a pair of night vision goggles and allows the outside camera views to be projected into the user’s field of vision. Apart from camera views, the Hololens can also show other data which includes telemetry of all the systems of the combat vehicle, task statuses, goals, interactive hints, and placement of friendly and hostile units. The headset can also be connected to the fire control system to get data from the UAV.
LimpidArmor is not the only company which is working to develop the AR-enabled headsets for the tanker crews. The giant defense company of Israel, Elbit Systems also has its IronVision system which claims to give a seamless 360-degree line of sight. It is capable of spotting vehicles at a range of up to 300 meters and also has a look-lock-launch flying capability as well. European arms contractor Hensoldt is also working on its Local Situational Awareness System (LSAS). The see-through tank technology is expected to become huge in the coming years. It is simple, cheap, and beneficial for the crews. The tech can also be modified to be used in the existing equipment so that a quick and efficient upgrade can be given for thousands of existing tanks and armored vehicles.