Thales’s ANTARES system is a breakthrough concept that combines accurate laser warning and seamless all-round local situational awareness capabilities in a single optical head. Mounted on a vehicle roof or turret, it protects crews against conventional and asymmetric threats in urban and open environments, day and night, and helps field commanders to make better, faster operational decisions.
Commander Adi checks out the street scene on his high-resolution in-vehicle screen. His unit has been assigned to patrol a densely packed urban area, in response to intelligence reports of well-equipped hostile forces planning to infiltrate the city centre and strike at strategic infrastructure targets. Safely inside the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) in hatch-down mode, he relies on the roof-mounted ANTARES sensor to give him a real-time panoramic image of the area around the vehicle, allowing him to detect, identify and engage threats with speed and precision, and keep his team protected. With its highly accurate built-in laser warning system, ANTARES will also issue an alert if the vehicle is targeted by a laser rangefinder or designator. It can locate laser threats to within 1.5 degrees, and has an exceptionally low false alarm rate.
On this morning's patrol, the IFV is carrying a four-man infantry squad in addition to its three-person crew, and local rules of engagement allow Adi to deploy the squad to engage insurgents if necessary.
Suddenly, Adi orders his driver to slow down, and zooms in on a group of people emerging cautiously from an alleyway in the fading sunlight. The driver is able to maintain his own customised view of the road ahead via a dedicated low-latency display. The close-up of the group indicates no potential threat, so Adi zooms out and continues to scan the roadsides.
Simplicity and versatility
This comprehensive self-protection capability used to require a whole range of different sensors. With the ANTARES concept, a single module mounted on the vehicle exterior provides a 360° azimuth field of view – and elevation coverage from -15° to +75° so that snipers on rooftops can be spotted too.
The real-time all-round view offered by ANTARES is likened by some users to being able to “see through” the armoured walls of the vehicle. Combined with automatic threat detection capability, it gives land force units vital operational superiority both day and night, particularly in fast-moving urban combat and counter-insurgency operations, where asymmetrical threats can suddenly appear from nowhere.
Thales’s state-of-the-art optronics technology lies at the heart of ANTARES. The 5.5-megapixel high-resolution sensor offers colour video for daylight operations and black-and-white for night-time. In daylight, the system can see an armoured vehicle at a range of 500 m or a small UAV at a range of 250 m, and detect a human being up to 150 m away.
Capabilities in action
Adi’s IFV turns into a wide boulevard lined with shops. The sun is setting, but Adi knows he can rely on ANTARES to protect him and his team even in these low light conditions. Spotting movement close to a mobile phone tower about 100 metres away, Adi zooms in just in time to see three armed combatants disappear into a side street.
Ordering his driver to stop and withdraw to a safe distance, Adi keeps his screen view focused on the street. The driver is able to simultaneously access a rear view to maintain safe control of the vehicle while reversing. Minutes later, another IFV unit nearby reports seeing three combatants being picked up in a truck and heading out of the city.
Maintaining local situational awareness at all times from the safety of the vehicle thanks to the hemispheric view offered by ANTARES, Adi decides to deploy the infantry squad to reconnoitre the immediate area. The IFV moves forward again, on the opposite side of the boulevard, to give the crew a view down the now empty side street.
Exiting a vehicle in hostile territory can be one of the most dangerous phases in any dismounted operation. With ANTARES, however, the squad is able to dismount safely, and deploy to a position at the base of the tower. Throughout the manoeuvre, the vehicle crew has a precise picture of what is happening all around them before, during and after their exit, and can thwart any threats accordingly. ANTARES continues to provide protection as the squad completes its reconnaissance task, and helps the crew to determine that the hostile combatants had been disturbed before they could damage the telecoms tower.
The right decision when it mattered
The IFV crew and mounted infantry squad are fully aware that the ANTARES system has given them a crucial tactical advantage, and helped them to complete their mission safely and successfully. In particular, it provided commander Adi with the level of situational awareness he needed to make the right decisions quickly and effectively in a dangerous and fast-moving situation.
Easy integration, reliable performance
ANTARES offers land forces a flexible, reliable deployment solution. The modular, self-contained electro-optical unit, which has no moving parts, can be easily integrated onto a very wide range of platforms, from medical, engineering and reconnaissance vehicles to armoured personnel carriers and main battle tanks. The system’s modular design also allows it to be backfitted onto previous-generation platforms as a self-contained upgrade kit, or temporarily added to a fleet for a specific operation.
In-service now, built for the future
Potential future upgrades of the ANTARES system include a missile warning system (MWS), and enhanced connectivity to send data to other onboard sensors and effectors.
The ANTARES panoramic laser warning and local situational awareness system (LWLSAS) is already in service with the French Army, demonstrating Thales’s ability to supply state-of-the-art vehicle optronics systems to meet the needs of highly demanding customers. Thales’s comprehensive development facilities, integrated repair/logistics capabilities, and long and successful track record of collaboration with armed forces around the world make our vehicle optronics solutions the ideal low-risk choice for customers.