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KENT PERISCOPES: A QUEENS AWARDEE FOR ENTERPRISE

Kent Periscopes is a leading international designer, manufacturer and supplier of unity vision periscopes,  vehicle sights and defence related equipment for armoured fighting vehicles such as main battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers.

In July 2016, Kent Periscopes became part of the Gooch & Housego (G&H) group of companies. The acquisition is aligned with G&H's strategic objectives of moving up the value chain and further diversification in the aerospace and defence sector. This integration serves to further Kent Periscopes' momentum to be a leading provider of aerospace and defence products and services, including the spares, repairs and refurbishment sector.

Product Development

Kent Periscopes has a large and experienced design and development team that work hand in hand with the customer to ensure that the best solution is achieved for each and every scenario, whether that be for Unity Vision Periscopes (UVP) or more complex sighting systems such as the SABRE Thermal Imaging Gunners / Commanders Sight, or the Embedded Image Periscope (EIP) System.

The Company uses up to date 3D Solid Modelling packages and has the in-house capability to carry out Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on all of the designs. The design and development of new products is supported by the recent acquisition of a 3D printer which allows conceptual designs to be quickly manufactured and reviewed during all stages of the design process.

Kent Periscopes has a state of the art testing facility which includes a thermal chamber and the ability to carry out shock and vibration testing. This allows new designs to be tested during the design verification and validation stages, and is also used to carry out ESS testing of production items before they leave the facility.

Never more so has this world class capability been demonstrated than on the design, development, manufacture and test of Kent Periscope's latest EIP System, recently delivered to a European customer.

The EIP System is designed primarily to give AFV Drivers enhanced capability whilst driving during the day or night. Current Drivers Night Vision Systems (DNVS) will use a unity vision periscope for day driving when the hatch is down and will then revert to a separate screen to show the images from the vehicle mounted sensors. This separate screen is sometimes clipped on to the unity vision periscope or mounted somewhere near but not always in a location that is easy for the Driver to use. The Kent Periscopes EIP is a self-contained unit that offers the unique ability for the User to view the outside world through a standard unity vision 'hard glass' periscope, or through a sensor suite where the images are relayed to an embedded LCD that is cleverly hidden behind the unity vision mirror which folds out of the way with one simple operation of a lever. Therefore, there is no requirement for a separate screen and associated electrical harness.

The latest version to be designed by Kent Periscopes for its European customer includes a sensor suite that consists of a Day CCD, Low Light Camera and a Thermal Camera (LWIR), and to further enhance the performance, the system also has the ability to overlay the image from the Thermal Sensor on to the Day CCD or Low Light camera image. The system can also record footage, making it an ideal training aid.

The capability to overlay the thermal image on to the day or low light image gives the Driver and Commander the best of both worlds, insomuch that the Driver will be able to see obstructions and road signs which are normally not seen when using the thermal channel only. It also allows the Driver the ability to drive in weather conditions that are not always conducive to solely thermal solutions.

For this particular requirement, Kent Periscopes also supplied a second EIP for the vehicle Commander which gives the Commander the ability to see what the Driver sees, and to select a different sensor without changing the sensor setting that the Driver may be using.

All the sensors are controlled via a simple and compact control box which can be used to switch between sensor and adjust gain, brightness, change polarity etc.

The main EIP unit also has heated internal and external windows and built-in wash wipe system. This allows the User to maintain excellent vision through the unity vision part of the EIP, and to ensure the vision remains clear even in the coldest of environments.

Whilst Kent does not manufacture sensors or display panels, the company ensures that it invests in making the systems future proofed and subject to careful obsolescence management. Kent Periscopes uses carefully chosen technology partners, where necessary, to assist in the R&D of its Sighting Systems.

Latest EIP System Specification

System Overview

  • Drivers EIP, with standalone Control Box
  • Commanders EIP, with standalone Control Box
  • Single, Shared Camera Module (Day, Low Light & Thermal)
  • Wash reservoir with integral electrical pumps
  • Cable set

Sensor Module

  • Day Camera
  • Low Light Camera
  • Thermal Camera
  • Lightweight, sealed enclosure (2kg)
  • Multiple mounting options

Note: The sensor pack can incorporate alternative sensors to the ones stated above and Kent Periscopes also has a solution with a Short Wave Infrared sensor (SWIR).

Control Module

  • Membrane/tactile keypad for camera selection and controls
  • Select between Day, Low Light, Thermal and Fused output
  • Control of EIP wash and wipe system
  • Digital recording facility using removable media (µSD card)
  • Lightweight, hermetically sealed enclosure (2kg)
  • Multiple mounting options, and rugged Lemo M series connectors

EIP Main Periscope

  • Fully sealed enclosure (15kg)
  • Wash and linear wipe system for external window
  • Heated external/internal window and LCD display for low temperature operation
  • 1024*326 resolution LCD screen, with brightness control
  • Direct Unity view selected by accessible lever
  • Laser filter option for Direct View
  • 5° x 11.25° Instantaneous Field of View, 124° x 43.2° Field of Regard

EIP developments continue and Kent Periscopes has also designed a sensor suite that replaces the standard LWIR thermal sensor with a SWIR (short wave infrared) sensor, the lens of which is manufactured and supplied from within the G&H group of companies that Kent Periscopes are now an integral part.

In conjunction with the ongoing development of the EIP System, Kent adopts the same technology and modular approach into its sighting systems.

The SABRE Gunners / Commanders family of Sights has also undergone a technology enhancement with the introduction of the TI SABRE which can use the same thermal sensor as fitted in the latest EIP sensor suite derivative.

The SABRE sight developments also include a built in Laser Range Finder as an optional extra, again enhancing the capability.

Kents New Product Development is not just limited to the 'high end' sighting systems in Kents product portfolio. The company is always designing bespoke unity vision periscopes for turret and vehicle applications and is aiming to release a new range of periscopes later this year.

The much-used Passive Drivers Periscope (PDP) is also undergoing a transformation due to the issues of obsolescent Image Intensified Tubes (IIT). PDP's are the Drivers 'swap out' sight of choice in the UK but have been problematic due to IIT obsolescence. Kent Periscopes have redesigned the current in-service PDP such that it can now be supported again without having to scrap the existing units. Units can now be returned to Kent and be subject to a mid-life improvement that will ensure the product remains current for many years to come.

A further capability enhancement to the PDP includes the addition of a thermal channel alongside the IIT which gives the Driver the ability to switch between either an image intensified view or a thermal view.

Kent invests annually in New Product Development and continues to support both current and new customers with value for money Opto-Mechanical systems with the aim of enhancing capability and supportability for years to come. The portfolio of products continues to grow and Kent have a clear goal to become a 'best in class' in its field.

India Focus

The Indian market for electro-optics is primarily driven on the acquisitions of other major defence platforms mainly on  heavy and medium vehicles, air platforms and naval vessels and artillery. With the growing emphasis on indigenous production under “MAKE IN INDIA”, Kent Periscope with an established reputation in the domain is open to JV/TOT offering products with latest technology in following products:

  • • Unity Vision Periscopes (for All-round view in vehicle hatches closed condition)
  • Embedded Image Periscopes (for Driver to have Direct/Digital thru-camera view)
  • Passive Drives' Periscope (for excellent view even in LLL Low Level Light conditions)
  • Narrow Gunners' Sight (Observation, Aiming & Firing by the Gunner)
  • SABRE II Day/Night Sight with LRF option (for Commander and/or Gunner)
  • SABRE TI main Day &Night Vision with LRF option (for Commander and/or Gunner)

As part of its global supply chain expansion programme, Kent is looking for Indian partners to:

  • Become a potential supplier to Kent in the UK
  • Support other Export markets from India
  • A “MAKE IN INDIA” partner

Kent understands the phased approach required for Transfer of Technology to enable its products being made in India and based upon the capabilities which exist in India, Kent is also looking at possible R&D activities in the following areas:

  • Variants of current vision systems (e.g. new camera and display screen technology)
  • New unity vision periscope design

Kent Periscopes is the Queens Awardee for Enterprise: International Trade. This award was shortly followed by further recognition by the London Stock Exchange, who included Kent Periscopes in its list of 1000 companies to inspire Britain.

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