Hensoldt developing new Bushbaby 200 surveillance system

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Fresh after launching its Bushbaby 100 electro-optical surveillance system at the World Defence Show in Saudi Arabia last month, Hensoldt South Africa is finishing development of its new Bushbaby 200.

The Bushbaby series has designed to be cost effective and modular, able to accept a range of day and thermal cameras as well as a laser rangefinder. Hensoldt is looking at adding a laser designation capability in the future.

The original Bushbaby was launched in 2020 as a land-based long-range imaging system for persistent surveillance, allowing the operator to identify and track intrusions, smugglers, terrorists, drones or any other conventional or asymmetric threat.

During the World Defence Show in February, Hensoldt South Africa launched the Bushbaby 100, with medium-range multi-sensor surveillance capabilities for a wide range of defence, security and civil applications.

The Bushbaby 100 is a compact, rugged and medium-range multi-sensor system for stabilised surveillance and target geo-location, according to Hensoldt. It was designed to be lightweight, versatile, able to be used from man-portable tripod setups to mobile deployments and static installations. Low price is a key selling point.

Designed for agile day and night observation applications, the Bushbaby 100 system offers a field-swappable sensor-module for various applications. In standard configuration it provides a clear video feed from a 4K electro-optical (EO) sensor along with a compact medium wavelength infrared (MWIR) MWIR sensor and optional laser rangefinder. A gyrostabilised 2-axis system keeps the Bushbaby 100 steady.

The latest Bushbaby 200 is a long-range version and features a Kenis thermal imager-based electro-optical system borrowed from the Argos aerial gimbal range.

Hensoldt Optronics’ Leon Potgieter told defenceWeb the Bushbaby 200 is ideal for long range land surveillance, such as of borders or coastlines. The system is able to geolocate objects and record object date and imagery.

The Bushbaby 200 was displayed for the first time at a military attaché demonstration day held by SVI Engineering at its Pretoria East facilities on 13 March. Fitted to a temporary tripod, the Bushbaby 200 was displayed alongside Hensoldt South Africa’s Bushbaby 100, which was fitted to an SVI Max 3 armoured vehicle.

Both sensors can be added to vehicles or fixed observations sites. The Bushbaby 100 is man portable at 10 kg but the Bushbaby 200 is more ideal mounted for stability at long range and 38 kg weight.

The Bushbaby is non-ITAR, like the majority of Hensoldt South Africa’s products. The system’s modular design allows easy customisation and upgrades with additional sensors, with envisioned integration with radar, AI, RF and signals intelligence.

It complements the company’s other surveillance capabilities, including radar and electro-optical sensors. Hensoldt South Africa’s combined radar and electro-optical surveillance system is, for example, protecting nearly two thousand rhinos in the world’s largest rhino conservancy.

One of Hensoldt’s key portfolio areas is border security solutions, with Hensoldt South Africa having the vision to be the main turnkey solution provider for border authorities.