Hensoldt marks milestone as Belgian police aircraft continue to use their airborne sensors

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As the Belgian Federal Police Air Support Unit marked its 30th anniversary, Hensoldt took the opportunity to celebrate the Unit’s 20 years of using Hensoldt airborne sensors on its helicopters.

Since 2005, Hensoldt’s electro-optical systems have been integrated into the Belgian Federal Police’s fleet of MD902 and MD520 helicopters for airborne observation, bolstering their ability to carry out various police missions, such as security operations, crime prevention, search and rescue, firefighting and VIP escort and protection.

Four generations of Hensoldt airborne observation systems have been in use by the Belgian Federal Police, with continuous product support from Hensoldt over this time, the company said, adding that the most recent upgrade, the ARGOS-II, further enhances the Unit’s operational effectiveness.

The ARGOS-II airborne electro-optical system is designed for installation on helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The stabilised system combines multiple sensors and electronics into a single interchangeable unit. Its features include a high-definition (HD) MWIR (medium wave infrared) thermal imaging camera with continuous optical zoom, a unique HD (high definition), multispectral zoom TV-camera and either an HD multispectral spotter camera, or a short-wave infrared (SWIR) spotter camera for enhanced capabilities in challenging conditions with low visibility.

Hensoldt said that advanced image processing functions, such as picture-in-picture display, edge enhancement, haze penetration, pseudo colours and day/thermal image-fusion, ensure optimised image-performance across diverse operational conditions.

“Of particular interest is the system’s continuous optical zoom capabilities that provides optimal information from the scene of interest, which enhances situational awareness and operational efficiency without losing a single video frame,” said Chris Haines, Head of Sales for Optronics in South Africa.

Hensoldt’s electro-optical systems are in use by law enforcement agencies around the world, including in South Africa. In addition to the Belgian Federal Police, the Thuringia State Police and the German Federal Police have also chosen the ARGOS-II for their helicopter fleets.

“We congratulate the Belgian Federal Police Air Support Unit on their remarkable 30th anniversary – their unwavering dedication and remarkable achievements serve as an inspiration. We express our gratitude for their loyalty and trust in Hensoldt’s products, which have played a vital role in their crucial missions,” said Deon Olivier, Chief Executive for Hensoldt South Africa Optronics.

Hensoldt South Africa exports its solutions to more than 45 countries across the world in addition to supporting local customers. The Goshawk 350 and LEO II are used by the South African Police Service Air Wing on its AS350 helicopters as well as its Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter fixed wing aircraft. The South African Air Force uses the Argos 410 on its Caravan surveillance aircraft while the Argos 410 LUH is fitted to the A109 Light Utility Helicopters. Argos M systems are installed on the Super Lynx maritime helicopters and Hensoldt is the prime contractor for the EO/IR targeting sight on the Rooivalk helicopter.

Hensoldt South Africa recently launched its new lightweight ARGOS-8 compact electro-optical system, designed for the smaller and lighter unmanned aerial vehicle market. The ARGOS-8 (with an 8-inch gimbal), weighs 6 kg and is equipped with laser designator and range-finder capability.