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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.

Crews must generally rely on periscopes and sights to operate, trading situational awareness for increased protection. As demonstrated in recent conflicts, this opens tanks up to short-range attacks from dismounted troops firing anti-armour ammunition. And it deprives troops of a full understanding of what to expect when they jump out of an APC or an infantry fighting vehicle.

Armoured personnel carrier CV90

Electronic systems designed to enhance situational awareness can save lives by shifting the balance back in favour of the armoured vehicle crews and passengers. An example is Saab’s range of tactical electronics products. The portfolio comprises video systems that provide low-latency images of the armoured vehicle’s surrounds as well as computer systems and cyber security solutions.

Relaying clear, near-instantaneous images of the armoured vehicle’s surrounds greatly enhances troops’ ability to survive and successfully engage the enemy. Soldiers can exit APCs knowing exactly where to move to and without wasting precious seconds getting their bearings. Low-latency feeds to tank crews enable them drive day and night without becoming nauseous and to outperform opponents, both in other tanks and on the ground.    

By providing a clear view of the rear of vehicles such as tanks, video feeds also greatly reduce the risk of blue-on-blue fatalities caused by reversing vehicles, both in peacetime and during combat.

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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Why are rugged electronics essential for battlefield vehicles?

Battlefields are noisy, dirty and disorienting places. And few locations in a battlefield are as challenging as the inside of an armoured vehicle, such as a tank.

Crews are crammed tightly into confined spaces and need to contend with constant vibration from the tracks as well as the sound of the tank’s own cannon and external artillery. Moisture and mud can be tracked in, spreading filth throughout the cabin.

In battlefield conditions, electronic systems need to be ruggedised – adapted to be far more resilient than ordinary civilian systems. This is because unexpected stoppages or underperformance can put the crew and passengers at a tactical disadvantage and cost their lives. For example, a display screen on which the images are distorted by vibrations from tank’s tracks will impede the user’s ability to gain situational awareness, putting them on the back foot.

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.

Saab has long understood the high performance requirements for combat situations and products within its tactical electronics range of cameras and displays are fully ruggedised. Unlike competitor systems, components bolt onto the vehicle without the need for added suspension. Smart design enables screens to operate under extreme vibration, and by eliminating internal cables and fans from products the already slim potential for breakdown is significantly reduced. Levels of emitted electromagnetic radiation are also low to reduce the risk of interference with communications and other vehicle systems.

Saab tactical electronics components are designed to operate effectively between minus 46 and more than 70 plus Celsius. Touch screens can be preheated to ensure smooth operation even in extreme cold.

Why are low-latency video feeds critical to battlefield success?

It’s frustrating when there’s a lag in the audio or video stream on a civilian conference call. But when the video feed from a sensor outside an armoured vehicle is noticeably delayed, the consequences can be far more serious.

An armoured personnel carrier driver relying on a video feed to steer his vehicle at night is likely to become nauseous if the movements on the screen in front of him are out of sync with what his body is feeling. And a tank crew whose sensor and targeting systems take longer to relay live images of threats face a major disadvantage against better-equipped opponents.


The term latency is used to describe the time it takes for data to pass from one point on a network to another. In the context of tactical electronics for armoured vehicles, systems with low latency deliver images to user’s screen so rapidly that the feed feels instantaneous. Low latency feeds enhance the crew’s ability to respond to their environment and greatly improve their odds of achieving battlefield success. Feeds with higher latency, by contrast, are more likely to disorient the user and endanger mission success.

In general terms, a latency of 80 milliseconds or less is required for video systems used for driving, while the threshold at which latency becomes easily apparent is 100 milliseconds. Surprisingly, there are solutions on the market with latencies as high as 150 and even 200 milliseconds.

Saab’s tactical electronics solutions deliver an industry-leading low latency of less than 50 milliseconds. This enables armoured vehicle drivers to comfortably rely on a video feed when driving their vehicles, whether it be at night using IR imagery or during the day using fused IR and video imagery. The near-simultaneous feed provides tank crews with a leading edge when targeting and engaging enemies using less technology.

How do you provide cyber security for armoured fighting vehicles?

In the battlefield, knowledge is power. The better access a fighting team has to accurate information on their surroundings, the better prepared they will be to face the enemy.

It’s no wonder then that opponents seek to corrupt, hijack and interfere with the delivery of critical information in battle scenarios. For the crew of a tank or armoured personnel carrier fitted with tactical electronic solutions, it’s critical that the information collected by their sensors arrives in a safe and timely manner. Saab understands this and builds its solutions with the highest degree of cyber security protection.

Cyber security

Saab offers a comprehensive set of measures and technologies to protect sensitive information and ensure secure communication and collaboration within the vehicle and battle management system. These measures are critical for maintaining operational security, confidentiality, and reliability in the battlefield to protect and prevent sensitive communications and information sharing to the enemy.

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Information in our tactical electronic products is relayed from sensor to the user’s screen via Ethernet, a wired technology that securely allows for multiple data packets to be transmitted simultaneously. Information flow within the system is regulated by a switch that verifies that all data is of the right kind and that it is only transferred to the appropriate receiver. This helps ensure that no foreign software or data can be transmitted within the system. Armoured vehicle crews can, in turn, have full trust in the situational data they receive and confidence their systems will continue operating in all conditions.