Case Studies

Saab’s Target Towing Video System Upgrade

January 17, 2020

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In the summer of 2018 when Saab went looking for a unique solution to upgrade an existing video system onboard a fleet of target towing training aircraft they did what most of us do – they googled it. After contacting a number of rugged video equipment suppliers they found the engagement process cumbersome, requiring nondisclosure agreements (NDA) prior to engaging in technical discussions, which hindered the progress of identifying a suitable solution.

Militaries around the world depend on Saab’s fleet of target towing aircraft to help train their air defense crews. Prior to this project, Saab’s Learjet 35s depended on external cameras connected to a hardware switch that fed a display in the rear of the aircraft to monitor the reeling in of external tow winches and/or electronic warfare (EW) pods. The manual switch, cramped display location, and multiple keyboard/mice required to control the computer, forced Saab to look for a modern solution that gave operators flexibility and control of their system while reducing clutter on-board their size, weight, and power (SWaP) constrained aircraft.

The upgraded video system needed to be able to observe and record the process of towing missile targets or EW systems from the cameras on each wing as well as the video output from two mission computers, to provide post mission debrief to Saab’s customers. The two cameras are critical for safety during target towing because of the risk of damage to the aircraft as the targets get closer.

The cameras provide visual awareness to the operator so that structural damage can be prevented while the computer recording allows Saab to provide the customer with feedback on the training mission performance. Saab required simple, intuitive operator control of both mission computers, from a single display via a single USB keyboard and mouse.

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