South Africa’s Denel Optronics has been awarded a multi-million dollar production order for optical helmet tracker systems (HTS) to equip the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter. The deal represents the latest South African investment by BAE Systems through its Defense Industrial Participation program, which arose from South Africa’s decision to modernize and right-size its air force with 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers and 28 Gripen fighters. The program delivers some $8.7 billion of benefits to South Africa’s economy and does much to grow high-technology industry within the country.
The HTS production order announced last month follows a 2003 design and development contract for the system that will see Denel manufacturing 450 high-technology systems over the next four or five years.
In March this year Carl Zeiss Optronics signed an agreement with Denel whereby the German company acquired a majority stake as part of the South African company’s restructuring process. The order to equip the Typhoon places Denel Optronics on a firm footing within the global defense environment as part of Carl Zeiss Optronics.
The Denel-designed HTS continuously monitors the position of the pilot’s head and where he is looking. That enables him or her to aim weapons, reconnaissance and self-protection systems toward points of interest (such as threats) at which the pilot is looking. Denel is a pioneer in HTS technology, having designed and produced operational systems in the early 1970s.