The MoD is funding a three-year research project to develop new sensor systems for use in close combat. The £7.5m Sensor Systems for Close Combat (SS4CC) programme is being led by Qinetiq, with additional input from Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems, BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre, plus academics and smaller companies.
The aim, according to Qinetiq’s optronics technical manager David Huckridge is to see how developments in technology can be applied to modern warfare.
Areas of interest include covert range-finding and near-field night vision systems, as well as numerous urban sensors and electro-optic protection measures. Much of the work will involve electro-optical sensors, laser sensors and thermal imaging, though Huckridge said that other technologies will not be excluded if they have particular benefits. ‘We have identified what we believe will improve things for the soldier,’ he said.
A major focus of the programme is to look at how troops might conduct operations better in complex terrain, particularly urban setting, while limiting casualties and collateral damage. It also hopes to find more effective ways of detecting unconventional threats such as improvised explosive devices and asymmetric tactics.
Systems will primarily be developed for army personnel — whether on foot or in vehicles — but this does not preclude them from being used by other branches of the armed forces. ‘We and the MoD are also keen to explore if there are any potential non-military applications,’ said Huckridge.He said that while he believes many new products may take more than three years to develop, he hopes that by then they will be much nearer to reality. ‘It’s possible that the research will throw up some different approaches that have not been identified yet,’ he said.