Eurofighter Typhoon (UK versions) - Technical data and discussion

Not in terms of fixed wing airborne equipment, considering that the most moderns IRST is still the AN/AAS-42 [1984] based IRST21, which is still being refitted into pods for modern airframes (F-15 & F -16 are equipt with the Legion IRST / Legion-ES), or hardwired into them (F/A-18E/F).

And anyway as mature technology the only practical advancements that could be made (since they are reusing an existing assembly) are relegated to data processing / image enhancement, which really aren’t going to make for that much of a performance gap, a qualitative difference maybe, but nothing significant, let alone to the point where it would have an operational impact. It would be far more telling to look at efforts to control the thermal signature of the various airframes, as it would otherwise present limitations to the pilots if they aren’t offset in some way.

IRST’s are still governed by physical phenomena, so the fact that the IRST-21 might have better resolution, or less noise would only impact things like the Visual Identification range, not detection of a signature since both the PIRATE and IRST are LWIR based systems, and use sufficiently advanced filters and processing techniques to assist the pilot in making a determination, sure it might have fancy datalink capabilities and other Utility features, but that is auxiliary to the sensor and nothing that couldn’t be refitted or modified to add said capacity for specific interoperability with a given network in short order if needed to replicate the capabilities provided[The Typhoon was tested with / is compatible with both the Link -16 and MADL networks ].

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Something I don’t see noted here is that the Eurofighter/Rafale have their IRST better optimized in terms of air to air capabilities than the F-14D and F-35 in terms of placement on the aircraft.

The Eurofighter/Rafale have their IRST on top of the nose while US IRST have it placed on the bottom. Even further back on the bottom for F-35 which indicates optimized for air to ground.

You also at the same time can see the new IRST being tested on the F-22 being placed on top of the nose. This lends evidence that IRST is better optimized on top of the nose for air to air.

So I really would not expect F-14D’s IRST already to provide the same ergonomics/utility that the Euro deltas have.

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Bottom of nose is better or more ideal for BVR engagements and top of the nose doesn’t allow for air to ground at all. Europe is just behind in this aspect.

Stealth aircraft have no problems being high and above enemy fighters, gen4s need to be able to dive and stay low or look up generally.

The US never focused heavily on IRST for air to air role, but that doesn’t discount the research and technology that has gone into surface to air tracking or modern infrared seeker technology. Tank thermals especially have been far ahead of competitors, even having the first tank thermals sights to begin with. It wasn’t until the 2010s that Russia was able to equip their tanks with French thermals sights roughly on par with early gen1 Abrams thermals.

If that was true, the planned/experimented IRST would be on bottom of nose for the F-22. And we know the F-22 is optimized for air to air. Stealth aircrafts can’t always enjoy being high up and do have to eventually drop down in altitude in a BVR fight.

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The F-22’s current IR sensors, radar, nose gear, and electronics block pretty much any potential plan to install a low profile IRST under the nose as the F-35 was designed to have.

Also the primary function of 90% of the subsequent F-22 upgrades was making it more multi-role capable.

That’s just not true now is it.

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I believe it is, we can DM about it to avoid dragging this further off topic if you’d like.

Lets see…

  • Boxer in morbillion variants
  • Puma IFV
  • Lynx
  • Leopard 2 turrets
  • ammunition for all of their vehicles
  • Fennek
  • Eurofighter (yes, German does have a plant)
  • G95A1
  • all of the Leopard 2 sub-components
  • armour for their vehicles

Well, seems like quite a few things.

I don’t know what your experience with the thermal imagers from European manufacturers are, but this might just be up to US military/manufacturer just utilizing better screens for displaying the output. Technologically, there is no lead on either side.

But okay, lets talk thermal imagers and MBTs.

When the Leopard 2A5 upgrade was developed, there were two second-generation thermal imaging sensors available in Germany, both designed as part of the tri-national TRIGAT (third generation anti-tank) missile program that lead to the failure that is PARS 3 LR. A small, low-cost IRCCD sensor using a 40 x 4 detector array for the short-range variant of TRIGAT meant to replace MILAN and a large sensor utilizing a 288 x 4 detector array meant for the long-range version (which ended up being PARS 3 LR).

At the time, the latter sensor was considered unreasonable expensive, specifically given that the change in the political landscape had a negative impact on the military budgets in Germany and other LEOBEN countries, while the smaller sensor array was considered to provide insufficient resolution. As a result using the US-German Common Modules for the Leopard 2A5’s commander periscope or developing a new IRCCD with lower cost than TRIGAT’s larger option, but better resolution than TRIGAT’s small model, was considered. Both these systems were tested on the Leopard 2 prototypes (TVM min with the US-German Common Modules, TVM max with a new sensor).

The new sensors was developed by AEG and uses a 96 x 4 IRCCD detector array and was installed into the new Optischer Passiver Hoch-Empfindlicher Leichter Infrarot-Optischer Sensor (OPHELIOS) thermal imaging system developed by a cooperation between Carl-Zeiss, Atlas Elektronik, AEG, TEMIC EZIS and Eltro. This rather low sensor resultion was somewhat negated by a using a special sensor layout, where the detector array was split into two blocks, slightly shifted in alignment, apparently for better image quality. The software of the OPHELIOS thermal imager was already designed to accept the larger sensor developed for TRIGAT with 288 x 4 detector elements, but this upgrade was never made for Germany’s tanks at least following the improved relations with Russia and later the focus on assymetrical warfare. An upgrade of the Leopard 2’s thermal imager would likely have occured with the KWS III originally planned for 2008, as this would have required a new FCS and new optics.

The US Army settled for a much larger detector array with 480 x 4 detector elements, which was partly possible due to adopting second-generation thermal imagers at a later point of time; this means that more mature manufacturing techniques and smaller process nodes could be used for manufacturing, which are some of the main drivers of the costs of electronics. This detector array is clearly better than the one utilized on OPHELIOS in terms of resolution per scan. In terms of the signal-to-noise ratio (i.e. the most important factor for image quality besides sharpness/resolution), these sensors are all on equal terms, as they all have a TDI of 4 (they rely on scanning each position four times). This allows reducing the noise compared to a first generation thermal imager by half (the square root of the TDI).

It must be noted that there are further fators that need to be accounted for such as the aperature, the quality of the lenses and prisms, the scan rate, thermal sensitivity, etc. These factors for example allowed the EMES 15 with WBG-X to provide better results (according to the US evaluation of the Leopard 2AV) than the Abrams’ TIS despite both relying on Common Modules with a 120 x 1 detector array. Based on what I’ve read, both Raytheon’s second gen FLIR aswell as the AEG-designed IRCCD array for the OPHELIOS rely on CMT with similiar thermal sensititvity (7.5 to 10.5 µm); in theory using a smaller detector in combination with a higher scan rate and larger scan amplitude could provide the same output resolution as a larger detector array scanning slower/less.

The larger detector array of Raytheon’s second-gen FLIR is nothing special and not related to the Americans “just being better at making thermals”. I.e. in 2000 - one year after the US adopted second generation FLIR - a new thermal imager made by the German industry around Carl-Zeiss was tested on the Leopard 2 called the HDIR. This was designed around a 576 x n detector array (n being 4 for the model tested on the Leopard 2) and provided an output resolution of 1,920 x 1,152 without using inter-lacing. In a comparison with WBG-X and OPHELIOS, it was found that HDIR allowed to detect (persuambly NATO standard) targets at up to 60% further distances. They made a thermal imager with 20% more detector elements one year after Raytheon’s second generation FLIR entered service, but hey, “the Europeans are always a generation behind in thermals”.

The idea that European thermal imagers are in terms of performance behind US systems is laughable. All these systems are following the same laws of physics. Hendoldt’s ATTICA thermal imager was designed as a modular family, coming in different shapes and sizes (i.e. small, medium and large detector arrays), which is the standard approach on the market today. Even the “small version” of ATTICA as fitted to the Puma IFV has 57 times as many detector elements as the Abrams’ second generation FLIR. The medium versions use a 640 x 512 detector array, while the large one offers a 1,280 x 1,024 detector array, i.e. up to 682 times as many detector elements. As common with third generation thermal imagers, they are available either based on CMT or InSb, i.e. in different wave-lengths.

For the third generation thermal imagers, Raytheon for example had developed two variants of the 3rd-Generation FLIR Sensor Engine; one with a 640 x 480 detector array and a 1,280 x 720 elements detector array, as the US military favors the 16:9 wide-screen format, so I don’t see how this should enable them to stay a generation ahead of Europe. Safran, Thales, Leonardo, Hensoldt, etc. are all making similar-sized detector arrays.

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Can you source any of that information or make an actual comparison using images of the thermals?

Show me the thermal sight / viewing device of a Puma vs an Abrams SEP for example and I can easily demonstrate why the Abrams has superior thermals.

Also, the thermals cooling matters. There are a myriad of other things that must be taken into account, but if you wish to view video footage of the Russians shooting from the T-90Ms screen and compare that to American stuff with smaller detector elements you’ll find the Russians can maybe identify what type of target something is at 2-3km maximum… The Abrams can clearly identify targets out to 7.5km+

You’re more than welcome to drag this to a group DM or ask for my discord ID to further discuss.

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I could do that, or I could simply ignore your pleas for evidence considering you’ve never showed any when trying to claim “US is ahead of Europe”. That is something you seem to love to do honestly based on the few interactions I had the displeasure of having with you.

Nothing you have to say is worthy of attention here, last time we’ve engaged in a conversation on discord you had defaulted to “I serve on the Abrams”, but at least you’ve learned from my teachings that M1s do not use DU composites in their hulls…

Also you really think you can compare videos of thermal imagers when those could have been taken with a literal potato of a camera?

Please get serious, I’ve already provided an explanation as to why US is clearly not ahead of Europe when it comes to development of thermal imagers, be it for tanks or other vehicles, but you’ve ignored all that text and went for… “uh, source?” while employing the double-standards of the century.

Cheers.

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Yeah they did, the AN/AAA-4 and AN/AAS-15 were equipt on the majority of interceptor aircraft (F-101B, F-102, F-106, F-110A, F-8D/E/H/J, F-4B/C), and a number of others had them as auxiliary targeting aids (F-104).

There additionally were plans / designs for the entire Teen series to fit them, where the majority never made it to production, or were canned due to needing to reduce unit cost.

Not saying that it should be discounted, only that it isn’t relevant when comparing dedicated Airborne systems in an A2A role, as tanks don’t fly (for the most part, anyway).

I’d prefer if we moved to DM’s and you took a less hostile and off-topic approach to the argument but I’ll entertain it a little further.

If you had asked I could have provided something, instead you formulated an argument focusing on element size and hardware. Russia is known to be using the Catherine-FC thermal imager device and later what appears to be domestic copies. They are sometimes referred to as third generation thermal imagers. We know this to be incorrect, based on multiple countries definitions of what makes something “1st, 2nd, 3rd generation”. Of course that isn’t necessary at all because one glance at the product will tell us how awful it is. Can’t trust the papers on this one, not at all.

Spoiler

The generations of thermal imaging devices
To understand the second generation I’ll refer to information stated during an anti-trust lawsuit that took place in 1997. US vs Raytheon and General Motors.

They stated clearly;

"Second generation scanning FPAs consist of detectors arranged in two dimensions, and the array may range in size from 240 x 2 to 480 x 4. The detector is scanned mechanically with mirrors across a field of view. Second generation scanning FPAs differ from 1st. Gen. scanning FPAs in that the readout circuit is mounted directly to the detector material. Second generation FPAs are photovoltaic, while 1st. Gen. FPAs are photo conductive. Scanning FPAs are used on ground vehicles because of their ability to cover a wide field of view.

It states further that the primary improvement in 2nd generation thermals are sensitivity and resolution. It states clearly that the FCS of the Abrams could fire further than the FLIR could see in Desert Storm. In 1990-1991 the M1A1 would have had an effective range of approximately 5km. This suggests gen1 FLIR has <5km of range in a desert environment, and lower resolution displays. The Abrams displays this picture into the gunner’s primary sight, not a display.

Current T-90M “gen 3 thermals” can hit targets at around the same range, but are also limited to <5km for the most part. There are a number of videos you can view even on social media such as instagram that demonstrate the poor quality of their thermals, claiming it’s all just bad footage from a potato camera is ridiculous at this point.

T-90M vs 3.75km tower (Instagram)
T-90M vs ??? (Instagram)
T-90M vs ??? (Instagram)
T-80BVM vs target at ~4km? (Instagram)
In none of these videos are the target anything significantly recognizable in thermals.

The Leclerc thermals are a little bit better, of course. I think mostly due to post-processing.
Leclerc gunnery, <1000m to target (Instagram)

Abrams viewing plywood targets at a standard gunnery range ~2-3km? (Youtube)
Iraqi M1A2 engages ISIS, ~2km (military.com)
Towards end of video you can view people walking from 1600m and 1400m respectively. Clearly visible.

Articles for Catherine-FC on Russian armored vehicles declare detection range for tanks as 3km and recognition (identify type and for IFF) at 2km.

And regarding quality, the Abrams takes the cake imo for tank thermals despite being “gen2”. At least, until the “real” Gen3 FLIR shows up on the SEPV4. Take notice of a closer Abrams with it’s exhaust in view, while also being able to see clearly the mountains >8km in the background with pretty good resolution.

Meanwhile the Russians (using latest French stuff) are stuck with this…

And the thermals on the Leclerc SXXI for comparison… where is the background?

I have no idea who you are on discord if we’ve conversed before. Nothing I have to say is worthy of attention at all, that’s correct. This seems very personal to you so unless you have something relevant to show the Typhoons’ IRST is comparable to something on US aircraft I don’t think this conversation will really be useful to the thread. I’ll advance that you can DM me or discuss on discord as you apparently already know my ID.

That’s correct, M1’s do not use DU in the hull because DU armor on the Abrams was not yet used until the later iterations of the M1A1. I’ve never pushed the opinion that an original M1 used DU let alone in the hull.

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I guess we differ in the opinion of what “focused heavily” means. However, interestingly unit cost in the US regarding thermal imagers thanks to common modular units was significantly cheaper than anywhere else at the time. Average cost was down from $250,000 to just $50,000 in regards to tank thermals at least. These types were licensed for production in Germany through the 2010s.

The typhoon IRST is offset to the side of the nose meaning that the nose only obstructs the bottom right corner of the IRST FOR.

These paragraphs from a paper describing the flight testing of the PIRATE IRST on the Eurofighter mention air-to-ground capability.

Spoiler

These images from a different paper show that just a small area in the corner is obscured by the nose, and that you can very much see the ground.

Top of the nose still obstructs view, Typhoon got around that issue clearly which is good.

That’s all cool and dandy, small little problem. Catherine-FC has never been referred to as a “third generation device”, not even by Russians, not by the French and not by Thales either - you’re confusing it with Catherine-MP and XP. Whether some non-primary internet site does is of no importance at all and basing your perception on that is foolish.

To fully understand why US is not “ahead” in terms of thermal technology (and Russia is a weird point of comparison, or France’s Leclerc which still use Catherine-FC from 1990s) we need to look at more things, mainly speaking wavelenghts used in the camera’s, FLIR mostly make use of MWIR or LWIR technology, with the latter having incredible traget detection ranges exceeding even 10km’s, and MWIR has greater atmospheric transmission allowing it for better pictures of the background, for example the MWIR PERI of the Puma IFV:

But that doesn’t actually mean anything as modern imagers also have different modes that can turn up contrast, therefore comparing image by image is idiotic, here’s two different modes for Catherine-FC(!):

image

Another thing is refresh rate and why taking “simple” videos or pictures for comparison falsifies the results, as posted by you yourself, on some of the footage we could see the thermal imager actively refresh which were those vertical lines traversing through the screen, that doesn’t really happen UNLESS the camera’s capture rate is identical to the imager’s refresh rate, for example this is 3rd generation KLW-1 Asteria, image taken via imager itself, refresh rate not visible therefore its much clearer:

image

Your understand of the phrase “not less” is also interesting… especially when they’re saying the recognition range is not less i.e more than the stated value, you can in fact look at the right side of the image where they recognition of target in km’s, weird how it suddenly jumps from ~3.000 meters to 11/4.5km’s…

The icing goes to this T-64BV:

image

Quite a clear image, huh?

And here’s ATTICA in all of its glory when the picture is taken directly from the imager:

image

To add to that some “statistics”:

image

Identification range for a 2.3 x 2.3m target being around ~8km’s
Recognition range of ~14km’s
Detection range of ~24km’s

Overall, the idea that European thermal imagers are in terms of performance behind US systems is still laughable and not supported by any actual evidence, all those imagers are based on the same technology and come in different sizes and different performance settings, which may or may not be adjustable.

I don’t believe there is really any need to continue this discussion (at least I’m leaving it at this, I’ve said my 2 cents and am not interested in any further discourse), you’ve showed that you don’t know even the basics, and your attempts at arguing your points the way you have proved to me, that your entire argument relies on pure pride for US solutions, even though they don’t offer anything over their European counterparts in terms of performance.

Cheers.

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Another small issue, nothing you’ve posted was made in the 90s and seems to only match the performances of the American stuff that I shared from that period. Whatever generation they wanna call it, it’s not performing on par. Still confused about the uranium comment.

As I also mentioned, the US licensed production for certain thermal technologies to Europe and especially Germany in the 2010s. It’s expected they’d have decent stuff around that time period finally.

you didn’t really rebute anything he said though

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/941238/response/2237866/attach/html/4/The%20Next%20Generation%20RAF%20Aircraft%20Equipment%20Book.pdf.html