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MSPO 2019: Polish AGAT Thermal Imaging Binoculars

Image Credit: Mateusz Zielonka/
Image Credit: Mateusz Zielonka/

NPL-1T “Agat” is one of the systems manufactured by the PCO S.A. company belonging to the PGZ Group. It comes in a form of thermal imaging binoculars. The binoculars in question, recently, have been procured by the Polish Border Guard, with right of option (possible purchase of a higher number of systems) envisaged in the acquisition agreement as well.

NPL-1T “Agat” system is not a typical solution with the image transmitted to the eye with the use of two monoculars via prisms and lenses. It is a thermal imaging device designed for night and daytime applications. The image, from a single thermal imaging lens is turned into an electrical signal by a bolometric detector and then, once processed by the advanced digital image processing algorithms, it is displayed onto two OLED displays placed in two viewfinders. The ocular module makes it possible to tailor the system to eyes individually through independent diopter adjustment (range between -6 to +2).

The digital video signal may be shared externally, to a heads-up display or a tactical monitor. The signal may also be recorded internally for after-action review and analysis. Internal OLED displays and external PC may both be utilized for that purpose.

NPL-1T’s main element is a bolometric detector, offering a resolution of 640×480 pixels, operating with the use of the infra-red light spectrum, within the scope of wavelength ranging from 8 to 14µm. Pixel size for that sensor is defined as 17µm, while the temperature sensitivity value is said to have a value equivalent to NETD ≤ 50mK. The image is projected onto the detector via a german-lens elements lens. The binoculars may be fitted with a lens offering fields of view of 6° x 4,5° or 12° x 9°.  The latter one may be coupled with a teleconverter-type device, narrowing the FOV to the former value. The binoculars with 6° x 4.5° FOV allow the user to detect a human-sized object (1.7×0.5 m) at a distance of around 2900 metres, main battle tanks (2.3×2.3 m) can be detected at distances of ca. 6400 meters.

Once the binoculars are synchronized with a military-grade GPS system via a communications interface, the digital picture may be complemented with geographical coordinates and time. The system also makes it possible to measure the target distance with the use of the reticle scaled for 170 cm high objects – which is quite a useful feature.

PCO stresses the fact that thanks to the algorithms and design solutions implemented in case of the NPL-1T “Agat” system, thermal imagery of high quality can be obtained. At the same time the system is light (800 g) and does not have a high energy demand. Thanks to the above, 4 AA batteries/rechargeable cells are sufficient to supply power to the device for 8 hours of operation. External power adapter may also be used. Broad voltage range is supported, from 8 to 32 V.

“AGAT” binoculars feature two external connection points. The main connector makes it possible to send a video signal out, acts as a control input (after RS422 interface is attached) or allows the user to utilize an external power supply. The second connector makes it possible to receive data from an external GPS receiver. The system may be ready for operation in 20 seconds after being turned on, and 1 second after it is woken up. NPL-1T binoculars are designed to be usable for 12 years.

NPL-1T system is currently being offered to the Polish military and to other users, uniformed services included. On 25th July 2019 PCO S.A. also signed an agreement with the HQ of the Polish Border Guard, regarding the delivery of NPL-1T binoculars, with option of extended procurement. The delivery deadline has been set on 10th December 2019.