For 20 years or more, quick pointing devices produced by French company Sofresud have enabled crew members to contribute to close-in defence in situations where automated systems have trouble detecting the target (e.g. fast sea skimmers, stealthy missiles with low radar cross-sections and targets on shore). Sofresud QPDs have been progressively adopted by a host of navies, including those of Egypt, Italy, Malaysia, Norway, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Today, with asymmetrical threats posing an ever-growing problem for naval operations, legacy command-and-control systems and CMSs often disappoint because the target designation component is too slow. This leaves the last line of defence, often a remotely controlled gun operated by a gunner, just seconds to save the day. Even a remote weapon system (RWS) with an optronic tracker, given its limited field of view, lacks overview and context while generally taking longer to acquire a target than a gunner using a director or pointer.
Sofresud has risen to the challenge by developing a hand-held designator called an intuitive pointing device. The concept is protected by French and international patents. An IPD radically improves RWS performance by increasing the field of view of its built-in designator and directly and instantaneously delivering pre-designation data (i.e. precision 3D coordinates and day/night imagery) for air, sea and land targets. Faster designation means that the weapon is trained more quickly on the target, resulting in faster overall response and higher accuracy.
IPDs benefit from the gunner’s wide field of view and fast brain-eye coordination and reflexes, to achieve a faster response to visible targets.The IPD development programme was supported by the French defence procurement agency, or DGA. In 2018 Sofresud won its first contract to supply IPDs
to the French Navy, initially for La Fayette-class frigates. The device will be tested on a light patrol vessel in early 2019.
While useful even on front-line fighting ships, Sofresud IPDs can be a game-changer on lighter vessels. Several navies have expressed keen interest, especially for launches and patrol vessels not currently equipped with a fire control or combat system.
More information in Mer et Marine Euronaval 2018 Special issue : "Naval Forces : focus on french technology"