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Aero India 2023: BEL displays multisensor payload for Dhruv MK III helicopter

The new SWIR REV III – developed by the DRDO's Instruments Research and Development Establishment – displayed at the Aero India 2023 show in Bangalore. (Janes/Kasthurica Panigrahy)

India's Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has displayed its short wave infra-red (SWIR) REV III multisensor optical payload for the Dhruv Mk III light helicopter at the Aero India 2023 show, being held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.

The Mk II version of the Dhruv helicopter is fitted with the Digital Compass electro-optical payload system developed by Israel's Elbit Systems. However, the IAF intends to integrate the indigenously developed SWIR REV III into the upgraded Mk III variant of the platform. The Dhruv Mk III was inducted into the Indian Army in mid-2022.

The SWIR REV III is a stabilised, lightweight, and compact turret developed by the Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE) – an agency under the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – and manufactured by BEL. The payload is a day/night, multispectral electro-optical intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) system, which provides 26 inches (66 cm) payload performance in an 18 inch system, a BEL source said.

The sensor is a combination of several multispectral payloads in one turret. These include a continuous zoom dual field-of-view (HD) day imager and a cooled mid-wave infrared (MWIR) thermal (HD) imager with a resolution of 1280×1024. It also includes an eye-safe laser rangefinder and a dual field-of-view SWIR spotter channel for accurate targeting. The SWIR provides ability to see images through haze, fog, and glass. The sensor has an option for a laser illuminator. The BEL source also said the system has a multispectral “common-aperture telescope that can capture multispectral and polarisation information and combines multiple channels”.

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