Thales announced that its Scorpion helmet-mounted sight and display system (HMSD) had been selected for all new weapons systems sales and upgrades by Airbus Helicopters. The unusual sole-source selection had been made “following a full and open competition,” Thales said. The Airbus Helicopters military product line that could be sold with the HMSD consists of seven helicopters.
“Our Scorpion represents the leading edge of HMSD technology and has been successfully implemented in various demanding applications,” said Pete Roney, president of Thales Visionix Inc. Thales acquired Visionix in 2012, the buy including the American company’s development of the Scorpion system. Visionix had won orders from the U.S. Air Force for the HMSD to be supplied to pilots flying A-10 and F-16 combat aircraft, and C-130 airlifters. More recently, the Scorpion has been selected as the common helmet-mounted display system for multiple U.S. Army helicopter types.
Airbus Helicopters told AIN that by selecting one HMSD, the company could “develop a family concept and reduce development costs.” A spokesman said that Airbus Helicopters also evaluated the BAE Systems QSight and Elbit Systems Anvis products, before selecting the Scorpion. “The purpose is to propose our armed helicopters at the best price with our technology and safety standards,” he added. However, Airbus Helicopters would retain the capability of integrating an alternative HMSD, should a customer specify it, he continued. The two largest customers for the company’s Tiger attack helicopters previously chose different helmet-mounted displays: France uses the Thales TopOwl while Germany uses the BAE Systems Knighthelm.
According to Thales, Scorpion provides full-color symbology and video for day and night missions, in addition to targeting, sensor video and potentially Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) imagery giving armed helicopters considerably improved mission situational awareness and effectiveness. It decreases combat helicopter pilot workload, facilitates crew exchange during the most critical phases of the mission and helps to improved safety and security levels. Scorpion is also interchangeable between helmets/pilots, thereby reducing the total numbers needed for any given fleet. For night missions, Scorpion operates seamlessly with standard issue night-vision goggles (NVG) providing the same quality combined full-color symbology/video along with NVG imagery.