Military Embedded Systems

Handheld thermal imager debuted by Thales at SOF Week 2023


May 09, 2023

Flavia Camargos Pereira

Military Embedded Systems

Handheld thermal imager debuted by Thales at SOF Week 2023
Thales Sophie Ultima thermal imager

SOF WEEK 2023 – TAMPA, Fla.  An improved version of the Thales "Sophie" Ultima handheld thermal imager/multisensor targeting device is on display at the SOF Week exhibition; the solution features the company’s VisioLoc, which is a geolocalization and maneuver capacity designed for deployment in high-intensity combat situations.

Tim Riley, manager of business development for Thales, stresses that VisioLoc adds advanced capabilities to Sophie Ultima and enables land forces to generate precise geolocation coordinates even in challenging scenarios including GPS/satellite-denied environments. "If you want to target a tank, but you are being jammed or GPS-spoofed, VisioLoc uses the image from the system and stitches the pixels together. So, when you do a panoramic scan, you are able to determine your position and then you can pick out any targets that you want," Riley describes. 

VisioLoc capability -- first shown at the Eurosatory 2022 show -- was built to enable section commanders, platoon leaders, and leaders of specialized and special-forces units to extract precise geolocation coordinates, typically Category 1 CE90 [Circular Error at 90%].

Sophie Ultima, meanwhile, provides long-range day/night imaging and target location for special forces and infantry platoons. This solution is fitted with cooled infrared imaging technology and can reliably identify a tank at distances of up to 6 km (3.73 miles). Launched in 2018, it is part of the Thales Sophie family of handheld thermal imagers and target locators, which has over 16,000 devices sold to 55 countries to date.

Another offering in this device family is the Sophie Optima, which was unveiled in 2020. It can identify a tank at a range of 3 km (1.86 miles), and its uncooled infrared technology delivers the same range performance as the current generation of cooled infrared imagers and target locators. The Optima coordinates photo and video-sharing and enables secure access that only allows the use of the camera. This device can also be equipped with VisioLoc capability.

Both Ultima and Optima are fully modular systems -- housed in a single compact unit -- and can be upgraded to accommodate future technologies. 

Both are designed to be cyber-secure and are equipped with standard communication interfaces and the ability to share information automatically with other units and the command chain.

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