AI Solutions by Thales - A fighter pilot's best digital partner

The way humans function is changing fundamentally with the advent of new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Cybersecurity, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). A breakthrough technology amongst these, artificial intelligence, is playing a transformational role in a variety of industries and its adoption is promising efficacy at unprecedented levels. Today, artificial intelligence finds applications across industries ranging from finance, healthcare, retail and defence, among others.

The progress of AI in India is at pace with global developments. While other countries such as China and the US have focused their energies on capturing as large a market share of AI as possible, India has focused on becoming an experimental space to explore the potential applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.[1]

In terms of using AI in defence, Thales’ AI solutions combined with its optronics offerings, create the perfect digital combination. This unique amalgamation of targeting and tactical recce pod from Thales with embedded AI makes the job for fighter pilots easier. For a fighter pilot, this is a task made easier as targeting and recce pods with embedded AI make for more accurate strikes.

With AI embedded targeting pods, quasi invisible moving targets that need to be neutralised are now visible – day or night, in color and high resolution and from altitudes of 7,000 meters. The pilot can then hit targets with 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 Thales product line manager for airborne optronics. “I can act faster and smarter. AI combined with optronics solutions, provides me with an unmatched visible color and infrared image quality, and with 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 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 increases 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 centres can execute better than planned even in changing and unexpected scenariois. (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.