Denel and Thales join forces on gunnery sight

South Africa’s Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) has joined forces with the optronic division of Thales France to produce the Above Armour Panoramic Gunnery Sight (AAGPS) for use on infantry fighting vehicles, combat reconnaissance vehicles and armoured personnel carriers. The companies will respond jointly to international requests for proposals for such systems.

The new AAGPS by Denel and Thales

The new AAGPS by Denel and Thales


Johan Steyn, CEO of Denel Vehicle Systems, says the AAGPS combines the KATE-LR, which is a long-range cooled thermal imager for weapon stations and turrets developed by Thales, and Denel’s two axis stabilised gimbal. It offers panoramic surveillance and gunnery fire control night and day.

KATE-LR, which weighs less than 10kg and measures 260×180×240mm, can operate in temperatures ranging from -32ºC to +55ºC. It has a mid-wave infrared (MWIR) sensor which is preferred in hot, damp conditions but is sensitive to the sun, a high resolution colour and near infrared (NIR) TV, an eye-safe laser-range finder with a 3km range (and an option for 10km), laser pointers and a GPS. It can detect, recognise and identify a person at respectively just over 10, 4 and 2kms, whilst it can detect, recognise and identify a small armoured vehicle at respectively 18, 8 and just over 4kms.

What’s the difference between detection, recognition and identification? Well, to detect something is to see that there is an object that is different from the spectral field around it. In order to be detected an object’s critical dimensions need to be covered by 1.5 pixels or more. To recognise something is to see that the object is a person rather than an animal, for example, and it needs to be covered by at least 6 pixels. To identify something as “friend or foe” the object’s critical dimensions need to be covered by at least 12 pixels.

The 2-axis gimbal is produced by the Denel Mechatronics division of DVS. It has particular expertise in turret systems and subsystems and has developed fire direction systems and fire control sub-systems, including for main battle tanks and for South Africa’s Rooivalk helicopter cannon turret. It supplies the South African armed forces and various international customers.