Farnborough Air Show

Russian optics on display place focus on civil realm

 - July 7, 2008, 9:57 AM

Urals Optical Mechanical Plant (UOMZ) is presenting its new SON-730 optical observation system here at Farnborough International (Hall 1 Stand B13), showing it in real-time use on a target-mounted screen. According to director general Sergey Maksin, the development of this technology for civilian use has been a major priority for the Russian company over the past decade. SONs (their Russian acronym) are designed for day and night search, detection and identification of objects.

An important advantage of SONs is their capability to operate in a wide range of observation angles even when an aircraft is experiencing intense vibration or is landing. According to Maksin, UOMZ’s designers continue to improve the characteristics and reduce the size of its products.

The small SON-730 unit features a 360-degree angle for azimuth sighting; it weighs less than 55 pounds. Customers can ask for the system to be fitted with a number of additional devices, such as automatic acquisition and tracking of a target, a supplementary electronic image stabilization system and an electronic scaling unit.

The system can obtain high quality and stable images in both day and night conditions. It can be mounted on a wide variety of platforms and is proving popular for roles such as police work, border protection, drug-traffic control, terrorist communications monitoring, search and rescue, and fire prevention patrols.

Over the past few years, UOMZ has been actively pursuing partnerships with Western companies. In the field of optical observation systems, its main partners in Europe are the Recon Group of Germany and Spain’s Indra.

UOMZ is developing, in compliance with specifications from Recon, a modular optical observation system (SON-M) in which optronic sensors can be quickly replaced. The deliveries of this system to Germany will start this year. At talks held in May the partners agreed to pool their efforts to develop a new modular system (SON-MR) featuring various channels. UOMZ already has developed an optical observation system (SON-124U) for helicopters serving with UN peacekeeping forces.

Separately, Polish company Wshod has worked with UOMZ to install SON systems on the Polish-made Orka helicopter. Rescue services and police forces from several other European countries have shown an interest in the system.

Also under contract from Wshod, UOMZ has developed a SON-124R system for use at sea. The companies have agreed to the SON-124R test and operation procedure for Polish ships, and UOMZ specialists are to travel to Poland to supervise the assembly of the SON-124R system and to train Polish personnel to use it.

Given the importance of creating an airborne system for various types of monitoring, the partners have agreed to pool their manufacturing and design capabilities to build a flying laboratory equipped with a modified SON-124L optic observation system, a radar system and a system for recording information and transmitting it to a land-based facility. The Orka laboratory will be used to promote export sales of equipment from UOMZ and Wshod; the Marganski & Myslowski Aviation Plant is also involved in the program. The package from UOMZ will include thermal imaging, TV channels and a laser rangefinder capable of automatic acquisition and tracking of observed targets.