The South African Police Services (SAPS) Air Wing has awarded Carl Zeiss Optronics SA a R100 million contract to supply it eight LEO-II-A5-EP Extended Performance (EP) Airborne Observations Systems (AOS) and related airborne and ground equipment.
Carl Zeiss Optronics marketing and sales executive manager Gilbert do Nascimento says the LEO-II-A5-EP – now the system of choice for the SAPS Air Wing – is the most advanced of the Carl Zeiss Optronics LEO Airborne Observation Systems.
He adds that up to three high performance optical sensors (essentially video cameras) with ultra-long focal lengths are simultaneously available in the electro-optic stabilised LEO turret.
This combination provides the system operator in the aircraft with the best picture performance in all operational conditions, even at high altitude and over long distances where the object of interest is viewed at a flat or slanted angle.
“The system allows for excellent haze penetration and performance in lowlight conditions, as well as both day and night operations,” Do Nascimento says.
As the turret itself is manufactured from composite materials, it is lighter and more robust than other similar systems. An added feature of the solution as selected by the SAPS Air Wing is geo-pointing, which is a function providing distinct operational advantages.
This system is ideally suited to public safety operations, like the upcoming Confederation and 2010 Soccer World Cup events in South Africa, as well as search-and-rescue (SAR) missions, border and coastal patrol, disaster response and general surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
The LEO-II-A5-EP will be retrofitted to the SAPS` existing BO-105, Eurocopter AS350 B3 Squirrel helicopters and PC-6 fixed wing aircraft.
Last year both Botswana`s and Namibia`s police services also bought the LEO-II-A5-EP for their own Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopters. The SAPS Air Wing`s decision to acquire the same system now helps to further standardise police helicopter equipment in the region, which allows for greater mission cooperation across the entire Southern African region.
The safety and effectiveness of missions is further increased by a video microwave downlink to the 10111 control centre on the ground, which enables real-time visuals and a faster response to a constantly changing environment.
The modular nature of the design offers complete flexibility, enabling end-users to select options most suited to their applications.
The SAPS Air Wing`s chosen configuration includes the latest generation high resolution thermal imager with three Fields Of View (FOV), a 3-CCD daylight TV camera with a powerful zoom lens spatially matched to the thermal imager`s field of view.
Its wide spectrum Spotter TV camera with dual colour and black and white capability provides close-in image magnification capable of allowing number plate identification at a range of 800m to the vehicle. The system is equipped with a video autotracker allowing for hands-free operation, searchlight slaving kits, and an eye-safe laser pointer for covert marking of points of interest for ground forces.
“This latest contract demonstrates how the LEO system is becoming the standard airborne observation system for a number of law enforcement agencies across the globe. Our constant research and innovation enables us to apply cutting edge technology to the practical and increasingly sophisticated needs of today`s police forces, enabling safer and more effective missions whatever the circumstances and conditions,” continues Do Nascimento.
Carl Zeiss Optronics was previously known as Denel Optronics. The German company took a 70% holding in the business earlier this year, with Denel retaining the other 30%. Carl Zeiss and Denel were also to recapitalise the business to the tune of R60 million, with the Germans putting up R7 out of every R10 and the state-owned Denel the remainder.
The German concern has been involved in Denel Optronics for close to a decade. It assisted the company in assembling periscopes for the SA Navy`s three Type 209 submarines, as well as similar periscopes for the Greek and South Korean navies, as part of government`s multibillion-rand strategic defence package.