The DGA’s Flight Test Center of Expertise and Testing conducted the first test campaign of a Strix sight in a TopOwl digital helmet. An innovation that will bring more effectiveness to the Tiger crew.
As part of the future Tiger Block 3, the mid-life upgrade of this combat helicopter, DGA in early 2016 launched studies for a new image visualization concept under the "Maturing Technologies for the Tiger Standard 3 Helicopter" (Matti3) basic research program. This innovation allows the weapon operator to watch images and videos from the Strix sight directly in the "head-up" view of the partially opaque visor of his TopOwl helmet.
Indeed, the feedback from operations has highlighted the need to change the visualization ergonomics of the Tiger, to better adapt to operational conditions of employment, which led the DGA to propose the study of this new display concept.
The expected gains in terms of performance and comfort of use are crucial for the crew of the Tiger:
-- improved situation awareness, while preserving vision both inside and outside the cockpit,
-- improved cooperation between the gunner and the pilot,
-- ergonomic improvements for target identification and weapon use.
A ground test campaign conducted in early 2018 validated the feasibility of this coupling and defined the first employment concepts associated with this innovation. It was followed by a first flight test campaign conducted between January and February 2019 in Istres.
Several day and night flights on a Puma test-rig helicopter were conducted by DGA Flight Test, Gamstat and Airbus Helicopters engineers and test pilots to test the coupling between roof sight and digital headset.
The exploitation of flight data will make it possible to define whether this coupling makes it possible to consider using it to identify long-range targets and to deliver the weapons: initial results are very promising.
These tests were conducted with the help of Airbus Helicopters (Tigre), Safran Electronics & Defense (Strix) and Thales Avionics (TopOwl helmet). With the arrival of the standard Tiger 3, the Straph NG and TopOwl DD (Digital Display) electro-optical sights will replace, by 2025, the Strix HAD and TopOwl Conf3 sights currently in service.