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Saab Global

See more and survive

6 min read + Video

Enhancing the situational awareness of armoured fighting vehicles gives crews and passengers a far better chance of surviving – and completing their mission. Tactical electronics solutions can play a key role.

Put yourself in the shoes of a soldier about to exit an armoured personnel carrier (APC) on the battlefield. As the rear door swings open, it takes you critical seconds to survey and understand your surroundings and then choose a direction in which to travel. The longer you’re in the open, the longer you’re exposed to potential enemy fire.


Now, imagine the same situation in an APC fitted with external cameras and internal video displays. As the vehicle draws to a halt, you’re already seeing clear pictures on-screen of the terrain, the surrounding structures and, potentially, any enemy combatants on the ground. When the door swings open, you already know exactly where you’re heading, greatly reducing your exposure to enemy fire.  

The downside of trading vision for armour

Full situational awareness has long been a challenge for crews and passengers of armoured military vehicles. In an effort to make tanks, armoured personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles impervious to attack, the crew’s ability to see around them is traded for heavy armour. In situations where keeping the top hatches open is not safe, tank crews, for example, generally must rely on periscopes, vision blocks and weapon sights to gain a sense of their surroundings. The result is blind spots, tunnel vision and a disconnect between vehicle occupants and the world around them. As demonstrated in recent conflicts, including the war in Ukraine, this opens tanks up to short-range attacks from dismounted troops firing anti-armour ammunition. In the case of an APC or an infantry fighting vehicle, it deprives troops of a full understanding of what to expect when they jump out to face the enemy. 

Significantly better situational awareness

Tactical electronics systems that enhance situational awareness for armoured vehicles have enormous potential to both save lives and enhance mission success during conflicts. They can also reduce accidental casualties caused by blind spots – particular around the rear of the vehicle – during peacetime operations. 
A key example is Saab’s tactical electronics range of products.

360 LSAS
Situational awareness

Situational awareness capabilities on fighting vehicles play a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness and survivability of the crew in combat situations.  


Saab Situational Awereness capabilities on fighting vehicles include advanced sensors that provide real-time information about the vehicles surroundings. These capabilities enable the crew to detect, track and engage targets effectively while remaining aware of potential threats and their surroundings upon disembarkation.

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The portfolio comprises three main focus areas. Video distribution systems equip vehicles with the cameras needed to capture images of the world around them; computer solutions provide displays for use inside vehicles and potential integration with other systems; finally, cyber security solutions ensure that the data collected and distributed cannot be capture or corrupted by the enemy.   

A bolt-on solution

A typical use application might be retrofitting a main battle tank with cameras and display screens to transform the crew’s level of situations awareness. While some next-generation tanks have begun to incorporate cameras as standard equipment, a significant number of tanks currently in operation lack this capability. A wired Ethernet network is installed to allow the information collected by the external cameras to be securely and near-instantaneously transferred to screens inside the vehicle. A split screen capability allows multiple cameras to be viewed simultaneously if desired, and depending on the needs of the customer, integration with battle management systems can also be carried out. Components are bolt-on and do not require additional suspension. Having a full understanding of any threats in their immediate vicinity allows crews to focus further afield and think more strategically.

Low latency means no nausea

A key benefit for tank crews of such a system is enhanced driving visibility. Saab’s solution has an industry-leading low latency or delay on the video feed. A latency of 100 milliseconds is the generally agreed limit at which a delay in a feed becomes noticeable, while 80 milliseconds is the maximum latency for a feed used for driving. Advanced techniques for packing and unpacking data packages within the network mean that the latency of the Saab system is below 50 milliseconds. This eliminates the nausea experienced by many drivers when their visual input does not correspond with the sensations experienced in their bodies. Long wavelength infrared camera sensors enable both night and day driving, with merging of infrared and visual spectrum possible for enhanced daytime awareness.

Drivers vision enhancement

Drivers vision enhancement capabilities includes advanced Technologies and systems that improve the vision and operational effectiveness of military personnel in various scenarios. A Saab system enables the driver to safely and effectively operate their vehicle in the terrain, especially during limited light conditions and combat situations.

Low latency; Low latency video distribution capability is a crucial part for driving aid capabilities, which requires real-time communication and interaction, providing users with a seamless and responsive viewing experience and to avoid nausea while using the system. Saab also has the capability to provide autonomous vehicles with fast video transmission through wireless connection. 

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Reduced blue-on-blue casualties

Another key benefit is reducing the risk of blue-on-blue casualties, both in wartime and times of peace. Even with the commander’s hatch open, tanks have many blind spots, particularly towards the rear of the vehicle and close to the ground. It’s also a common problem in a range of other armoured fighting vehicles. Cameras can remove these blind spots, letting drivers see human beings and other obstacles on all sides. The effectiveness of Saab solutions for this challenge was demonstrated when a major number of vehicles in the Norwegian Armed Forces were equipped with our vision enhancement system.

Saab's vision enhancement system

Military vehicle-mounted cameras and displays need to be rugged for use in the most extreme environmental conditions including vibration, shock, humidity and temperature. More than 340 vehicles in the Norwegian Armed Forces are equipped with our vision enhancement system. Sergeant Chris Mikkelsen from the Norwegian Army is one of its users.

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No interference with other systems

An enhanced situational awareness capability is highly desirable, but not if it interferes with other key vehicle systems. An important feature of Saab’s tactical electronics solutions is their extremely low levels of emitted electromagnetic radiation. This means that crew members can safely view a video feed on a screen without worrying about whether it will affect e.g. communications systems performace. For example, a tank commander standing up in his hatch can expect all his communication channels to function perfectly, even when an internal screen is located close to the tank’s antennas and the hatch opening.

Vetronics in a Patria vehicle
Mounted soldiers may use the system to obtain visuals on what is happening outside and beyond the vehicle before deploying.

Ruggedisation is also critical. A system which can’t cope with the intense conditions found in a tracked vehicle or on the battlefield is not only useless, it puts lives at risk. Saab’s solutions are fully ruggedised and resistant to vibration, humidity, dirt, and extremes of heat and cold. Components are designed with an understanding of the punishment they will endure across the course of their life. To reduce the risk of equipment failure, internal wires and cooling fans are not used inside components. And rather than using the capacitive (human touch) technology found in civilian touch screens, the displays in Saab systems rely on more reliable resistive technology. This means they can be operated through gloves or using a pen, something that is critical in extremely cold conditions.


How can giving armoured vehicles better situational awareness save lives?

Tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) are powerful fighting vehicles, designed to withstand the toughest of battlefield conditions. But their strength comes at a price: visibility from such platforms can be relatively poor, particularly in combat when their top hatches are closed.