The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are soon to conduct trials with Elbit Systems' IronVision helmet-mounted armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) situational awareness system integrated onto a Merkava main battle tank (MBT).
Speaking to Jane's at Elbit's facility in Yokneam on 23 March, Boaz Cohen, the company's senior vice-president for land systems, said the system "will be going into testing with the IDF in April".
Using technology normally associated with airborne situational awareness systems, IronVision uses a number of externally mounted cameras to project the 360° view of an AFV's surroundings onto the helmet-mounted visors of its crew members. This allows them to remain 'buttoned up' - protected inside the vehicle under closed hatches and safe from small arms fire - without sacrificing the situational awareness they would otherwise gain from being exposed outside the AFV's armoured protection and viewing their surroundings directly.
The IronVision system transmits real-time, high-resolution colour video to the commander and/or driver, providing them with a natural, bi-ocular, conformal view of the vehicle's surroundings, together with relevant symbology and C4I data. Cohen explained that key attributes of the system are the ability to deliver zero-latency imagery to obviate the occurrence of any motion sickness, along with a much lower unit cost compared with typical airborne applications of the technology.
The degree of transparency in the image projected onto the visor can be varied to retain awareness inside the buttoned-up vehicle, Cohen explained, adding that weapons can also be cued by the system.
The number of cameras needed depends on the vehicle and the resolution required, with a minimum of three cameras needed for day-only applications and six cameras for a full day/night capability.
As well as its primary situational awareness function, the IronVision system can also be switched to a training mode, projecting virtual entities and effects onto the real world outside a vehicle to create a more immersive and realistic training experience.
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