Thales’s stabilised Panoramic Above Armour Gimbal (PAAG) is a 360-degree electronic surveillance and sighting system that packs a powerful punch in a single compact package, giving vehicle commanders and crews a wide range of capabilities thanks to a versatile array of state-of-the-art sensors.
The night is clear and moonless, as he knew it would be. Three hours before sunrise, infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) commander Ash, safely protected in closed-hatch mode, zooms out the thermal imager view on his screen to very wide field of view to scan the undulating landscape all around. His mission is to patrol the rural border sector, and eliminate any hostile elements encountered, while being ready to provide fire support for aircraft deployed against local ground targets.
Ash can order the PAAG’s mast to be raised above the vehicle roof if necessary, to allow the IFV to stay safely out of sight behind a building or landscape feature, while still being able to able to deploy the system’s integrated laser target designation module.
The empty road stretches away in front of the IFV as it advances. Nothing is moving up ahead, but Ash and his crew stay vigilant, scanning the environment on all sides, because intelligence units have reported hostile forces moving into the area.
Packed with sensors
PAAG’s combination of sensors includes a cooled thermal imager and high-resolution daylight colour camera (both with continuous zoom), a laser rangefinder and a laser target designator. Together, they give users long-range threat detection/identification, weapon aiming and fire support capabilities, day and night, in all weather conditions. And everything is remotely controlled from inside the vehicle to keep crews protected at all times.
Seeing the unseen: a crucial tactical advantage
PAAG’s smart image fusion capability lets users seamlessly overlay real-time thermal imagery onto the video feed from the colour day camera, immediately showing up hidden threats. Targets can be identified at a range of up to four kilometres, while the laser rangefinder is effective at distances of up to ten kilometres. In addition, PAAG’s Automatic Video Tracking (AVT) and Assisted Target Detection (ATD) features utilise smart algorithms to detect threats and alert the crew, even when they are looking at something else, helping to reduce the potential for cognitive overload and mental fatigue.
Seamless threat engagement
Ash receives an on-screen alert: a vehicle is approaching rapidly along the road, a few hundred metres ahead. Based on the intel received, as well as PAAG’s smart processing capabilities, he quickly identifies it as a threat. Seamless handover to the gunner’s screen via the system’s hunter-killer fire control capability allows the target to be engaged and neutralised quickly and with precision using the vehicle’s 30-mm cannon. The gunner is able to customise the screen view, zooming in to a narrow FOV with the thermal imager, while Ash retains a wider field of view to maintain situational awareness and scan for new threats.
A few seconds later, the crew receives a new order, and the coordinates of the target of an imminent air strike. The IFV must move quickly to a nearby location and designate the target using the PAAG’s integrated laser target designation module. The aircraft is already on its way, and target designation is key to the success of its mission.
The PAAG’s all-round surveillance capability allows Ash to continue monitoring the area while on the move. No further hostile forces are detected, and intel indicates that other enemy units are in retreat, following the decisive action by Ash’s unit earlier. Once the vehicle has reached a safe position behind a low ridgeline, he is able to raise the PAAG gimbal on its mast and deploy the laser target designator at the specified time. The air-launched missile zeroes in on the target – a remote, low-rise building housing the enemy's command and control infrastructure – and the crew can immediately confirm that it has been neutralised. And they can do it all while remaining protected inside their vehicle, a safe distance away.
Ash and his crew are able to return to base safe and sound at their end of their patrol. The PAAG’s versatility has helped them to complete a complex patrol/joint fire support mission safely and successfully. Hostile forces have been engaged and eliminated, and a target was designated for a precision strike on an enemy command centre. The PAAG’s array of sensors gave them the capabilities they needed, when they needed them, allowing them to respond with focus and precision in a fast-moving battlefield scenario.
Customisable and future-proof
The compact, self-contained PAAG system is designed for easy integration onto a wide range of large and small military vehicles (including IFVs, APCs and reconnaissance vehicles). With its modular, open architecture, forces can customise the sensor array and easily swap out components for future upgrades, making it the ideal product for multi-mission vehicle types.
Robust and reliable, the PAAG gimbal is qualified for tracked vehicles and equipped with ballistic armour for self-protection.
The PAAG 360-degree sighting and surveillance system is an all-rounder in every sense of the term. Drawing on Thales's world-class technology expertise, the rich streams of data and exceptional level of detail delivered by the PAAG’s suite of cutting-edge sensors provide vehicle commanders and crews with an extensive range of on-the-move capabilities, including wide-area search and surveillance, threat detection and identification, weapon aiming, fire control, and laser target designation.
This game-changing combination of versatility and best-in-class performance gives users like Ash and his crew – and armed forces around the world – a crucial edge on the battlefield, allowing them to see the unseen, and respond with speed and precision as part of a successful joint forces mission in hostile territory.