Vricon offering Africa satellite geodata for ISTAR and GPS-denied navigation


Vricon, which provides data on terrain and feature elevation mainly to the defence sector, plans to market its services to governments in Africa.

The company sells 3D geodata to government agencies for improved intelligence and targeting capabilities. The same data can be used for navigation purposes in the event of a denial of access to the GPS satellite network, widely considered a high probability during conflict.

The company’s Senior Director for Business Development, Tommy Hultin, was at the African Aerospace and Defence(AAD) to speak to regional defence force chiefs.

Geodata is extensively used in intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, targeting, and in mission planning by Special Forces and other units. Vricon’s offering allows geodata to be obtained for areas that cannot be flown over, the company says.

Vricon is a 50/50 joint venture formed three years ago between Swedish aerospace company Saab and Digital Globe from the US, the world’s largest satellite imagery company. With five satellites, Digital Globe can provide imagery of any area of the globe.

The satellite network takes images of the earth’s surface in the near-infrared spectrum allowing for images at night and in low light conditions. From metadata derived from the pixels in the image, algorithms developed by Saab build a triangulated irregular network or “TIN” mesh with precise digital elevations showing topography. The Vricon 3D Surface Model has a 0.5 metre resolution and an accuracy of 3m,within NATO standards for bombing precision.

The algorithms that generate the elevation data were developed by Saab to guide missiles in the final approach to targets and are covered by 25 patents

Maps and terrain features can be presented on either a tablet or laptop. Large amounts of computing power and bandwidth are not required for its use, said Hultin.

The United States Government accounts for about half the firm’s sales. Sales to governments and militaries, outside the US make up about 35% of Vricon sales. Telecommunications companies are increasingly using Vricon data to plan and implement 5G networks.