It is neither the Tejas nor the Rafale that was talk of the show at Aero India, which concluded at Yelahanka in Bengaluru on February 5.
That accolade has gone to the good old BMP 2, the infantry combat vehicle that plays a crucial role in combat including in Ladakh where it has been deployed in large numbers. However, the BMP on display at Aero India is a refurbished version that tackles one of the main disadvantages of the battle vehicle.
As of now, the BMP, developed under license from Russia by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), lacks night-vision capability, making it practically blind when the sunsets. A Bengaluru based start-up, Tonbo Imaging, has come up with a solution as part of the Defence India Startup Challenge under the government’s IDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) initiative.
The company has developed technology that it calls “see-through armour.” Even at night, it offers the commander, his driver and the gunman a 360-degree view. The technology improves the all-round survival of the vehicle and gives an extra advantage in battle.
The forces have over the years been complaining that vision in the BMP 2 gets hampered due to smoke, dust, fog and darkness.
Officials at Tonbo told the Media that they have worked around it through cameras and magnetic trackers.
“We have now come up with a solution under which nine cameras are installed on the combat vehicle. These cameras are integrated with a helmet display,” Ankit Kumar, managing director of Tonbo Imaging told. “When the commander turns right, the headgear displays images of the surroundings onto the insides of the tank as if he was seeing through the armour.”
A magnetic tracker senses the head movement of the wearer and displays video from the same direction, he added.
Company officials explained that the driver’s head-mounted display can also interface with the GPS system for precise manoeuvring and situational assessment.
Another big factor is that the device also shows the commander, who can then analyze threat levels, broader coverage of targets.
This helps the commander to prioritise targets real-time and handover to the gunner or engage the target, based on urgency,” Lt Commander D. Rajendrakumar (retd) of Tonbo Imaging said.