Why AI Combined with Optronics Solutions is the Fighter Pilot’s Best Digital Partner
(Source: Thales; issued June 07, 2019)
You are a fighter pilot taking off on a critical strike mission. The tactical situation on the ground is evolving so quickly that the allied forces requesting fire support are unable to provide the enemy artillery positioning.

But they need help—and fast.

The good news is that you have what you need to do the job. That is because you have the unique combination of targeting and tactical recce pod from Thales with embedded AI.

The quasi invisible moving targets that you need to neutralise are now visible – day or night, in color and high resoluted and from 7,000 meters high, and your weapons will be guided with the exact precision.

“The new pod designed by Thales is the fighter pilot’s best possible partner aboard” says Emmanuel Vialle, a former fighter pilot himself and today Thales product line manager for airborne optronics. “I can act faster and smarter. AI combined to optronics solutions, provides me with an unmatched visible color and infrared image quality, andwith real-time data analysis for automatic target detection and recognition”.

“We decided to make that new solution totally pilot-centric.
“The quality of the images and accuracy of the analysis are the result of merging fifty years of Thales experience in optronics and expertise in digital technologies” Emmanuel Vialle, Thales Product Line Manager for Airborne Optronics activity

Flying with your digital partner

So how does this new Thales solution—the pilot’s digital partner—help in real combat?

Let’s go back to that strike mission and hear how Emmanel Vialle explains why Thales capacities makes such a difference.

“Overflying the area of interest, I first use the Permanent Vision™ which brings me a clear awareness of the environment through the pod’s imagery integrated in a 3D mapping display. As I have no precise ideas of the enemy positions, I start big data collection—taking thousands of pictures in a few minutes”.

“Thanks to the embedded AI, the pod gives me real-time analysis of the optronics images to detect the position of the target vehicles and shows it on my cockpit displays. The data flood is transformed into a series of immediately-actionable sets of information in seconds (compared to hours in the current operations). So, I have a precise global picture of the updated tactical situation”.

“Thanks to the embedded AI, the pod gives me real-time analysis of the optronics images to detect the position of the target vehicles and shows it on my cockpit displays." Emmanuel Vialle, former Fighter Pilot and Thales Product Line Manager for Airborne Optronics activity

“Thanks to connectivity, I immediately share that critical imagery with the support ground forces and with command and control. In response, I am tasked to engage the enemy vehicles that are now positively identified”.

Thales increase the operational effectiveness of forces tenfold by providing them with the ability to analyse changing situations in real time and by providing options for mission reconfiguration. Pilots and command can to do better what is planned and do well despite the unexpected (e. g. seize opportunities, or reconfigure in the event of attrition / adverse manoeuvre).

“Thales new optronic pod is a true breakthrough and there is nothing like it around” Emmanuel Vialle concludes, “When fighter pilots try it for the first time, they say, ‘Wow; it really allows a much better understanding of the tactical situation so we can identify the target in optimal conditions and speed‘”.

Thales leadership in providing this unique critical success factor to fighter missions is the result of fifty years of optronics experience and leading expertise in digital technologies including AI, Big Data and Connectivity.

The solution is multi-platform and “plug and fly” for fighter aircraft from a variety of manufacturers. “It is the ‘connected sensor’ that we needed for true connected collaborative combat, to operate and adapt simultaneously”, Emmanuel Vialle states with a big smile.

“When fighter pilots try it for the first time, they say, ‘Wow; it really allows a much better understanding of the tactical situation so we can identify the target in optimal conditions and speed‘” Emmanuel Vialle, former Fighter Pilot and Thales Product Line Manager for Airborne Optronics activity

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