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Turkish Firm to Unveil Laser-Based Helicopter Obstacle Detection at IDEF-2021

Turkish defense software firm Meteksan will unveil a laser-based helicopter obstacle detection system (HETS) at the 15th International Defense Fair (IDEF-2021) in Istanbul, Daily Sabah has reported. The fair is being held from 17-20 August.

Meteksan revealed on its website that the system uses a “1,550 nm (nanometer) wavelength fiber-laser, which detects obstacles such as wires, poles, trees, etc.”

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The Istanbul-based news outlet cited Meteksan vice general manager Özgür Cankara as saying that electric power lines, in particular, are hard to detect by a helicopter pilot when the aircraft rises above the ground “due to both the perspective and the effects of daylight.”

According to Meteksan, the system’s instrumental range is 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) and it can detect “vertical and horizontal obstacles up to 5 mm diameter.” The system immediately alerts the pilot upon detecting an obstacle.

Active Detection System 

Cankara said that “at least two helicopters are in danger of serious accidents every week around the world,” adding that nearly 40 accidents have happened in Turkey alone since 1990, leaving some soldiers dead.

He explained that the company will provide the active detection system to Turkish Armed Forces helicopters.

“In the first system (passive detection system), the geographical positions of the elements that present a danger to the helicopters are marked on the map, and they are displayed to the pilot when they are in motion. The latter (active detection system), meanwhile, is particularly useful when a helicopter is flying in geographies that pilots are not familiar with,” Daily Sabah wrote, citing Cankara.

“When the related problems arise, the helicopter detects the objects around it with its own sensors and can show them to the pilot in real-time,” Cankara explained.

Flight Test Next Month

Meteksan developed the system as part of a deal with Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries in 2019. The SSB manages the country’s defense industry and supply of military technology. 

System flight tests are scheduled to begin next month with Turkish Land Forces Command helicopters, the outlet wrote, adding that though the system works well with all helicopters in the Turkish military, it will be used primarily in Sikorsky helicopters.

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