Catherine cameras an integral part of Army’s T-90 main battle tanks

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 16, 2018

Antoine Caput, Vice-President and Country Director — India, Thales

Over 7,000 units in service on board 30 types of fighting vehicles globally

The most complete range of cameras available globally for target acquisition and weapon engagements by land vehicles — the Catherine family of thermal imaging cameras — are an integral part of the Indian Army’s T-90 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).

The T-90s are originally Russian tanks. In November 2006, India ordered a batch of 330 T-90 tanks, to be licence-built by Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi near Chennai.

Making of ‘Bhishma’

The factory was set up by the Ordnance Factories Board to manufacture heavy battlefield equipment. It manufactures India’s main battle tank Arjun and the T-90s. The locally assembled MBTs were christened ‘Bhishma’, and are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system as well as Catherine thermal imagers from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus.

India has about 850 T-90 tanks now and plans to induct 1,640 T-90 tanks by 2020. Though the Catherine thermal imager is already in service with the Indian Army, this May, French defence and aerospace company Thales won a new order.

“Thales won a contract from Beltech (European firm) to provide Catherine thermal imaging cameras for T-90 MBTs of the Indian Army,” said Antoine Caput, Vice-President and Country Director – India, Thales.

As part of the contract, Caput went on to add, “Thales is making a transfer of production to integrate 260 compact LWIR (longwave infrared) thermal imaging (TI) Catherine into Beltech’s TI Sights, that will be installed on the T-90 battle tanks of Indian Army.” The tanks have a guided weapon system and ballistic computer facilities to ensure accurate firing.

Noting that thermal imagers tend to allow gunners, commanders and observers see by night and by day in adverse conditions, Caput said more than 7,000 Catherine cameras are in service on-board 30 types of fighting vehicles globally.

The cameras’ combination of functionality, long-range performance and extended situational awareness has made the Catherine MP the current UK-preferred in-service Thermal Imager (TI) with the British Army. Its networked battlefield capability improves battlefield situational awareness, while the high definition TI with megapixel resolution offers flexibility and reliability where extreme performance is demanded on land, sea and air platforms.

The new order consolidates Thales leadership in optronic technologies in India. “With an association that started in 1953, Thales has been an active contributor to India’s development, especially in the fields of defence, aerospace and ground transportation,” said Caput, adding the transfer of production of Catherine contributed to the ‘Make in India’ policy of the Indian government.

Published on October 24, 2016

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