Video Management Technologies Deliver HD Solutions for Warfighters

Today’s military has become advanced users when it comes to video both as for situational battlefield awareness and for automated real-time platforms that interface with video data. A slew of box-levels products are feeding these platform designs.


With this the final story in COTS Journal’s year-long “Signal Chain” series, this month looks at the final stage of the signal chain where information is presented warfighters with the end result of the signal chain process. The particular aspect of that explored here in the video distribution and management part of that arena.

Today’s video requirements are getting ever more sophisticated. On one hand there’s the desire to enable warfighters to share video information with almost any level of the DoD’s operation. Beyond that there’s the idea of automating the process of change detection and automatic target recognition of video data to enable automated cueing that identifies and calls attention to potential threats. Capabilities like face recognition could, for example, enable high-fidelity full-motion video to identify individuals of interest. At the platform level doing such processing on board a UAV for example means that the link bandwidth can then be reserved on transmitting only what’s needed.

Metadata Capture Support

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions added some enhancements to its VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) this summer in the form of support for precise and accurate metadata capture. Designed for capturing critical situational data and combining it with camera and sensor data, the VRD1 provides a single unit VMS for fixed and rotor-wing aircraft used in aerospace, defense, and SAR and public safety missions. With interface support for all of the leading camera types, including HD multi-spectral cameras such as the FLIR 380 HD, the VRD1 eliminates the need for system designers to integrate their own VMS solution (Figure 1). The extremely rugged COTS-based system uniquely captures, compresses, distributes, switches, outputs, records, and streams/downlinks video via Ethernet.

Figure 1 The VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) provides a single unit VMS for fixed and rotor-wing aircraft used in aerospace, defense, and SAR and public safety missions.

The system also supports video scaling, windowing, and quad picture-in-picture/picture-by-picture display to provide flight and mission crews with the viewing flexibility they require for mission success. Delivered fully integrated, the VMS speeds and eases the deployment of intelligent video management capabilities. The ability of the system to combine precise metadata with HD video camera inputs, means the VRD1 lets airborne crews know exactly when and where their video images were captured and exactly when and where their aircraft was when its cameras captured those video images. This is a big deal for airborne defense helicopters seeking adversaries, for police surveillance crews that need accurate evidence, and for Search & Rescue teams who need pinpoint location accuracy.

3U VPX Video Solution

Rugged video management technology was also key to a two-year development and production contract won by Mountain Secure Systems to provide ruggedized video management units (VMUs) DRS Technologies. The rugged VMU from MSS is a 3U VPX system comprised of several single board computers, high definition (HD) frame grabber cards, graphical processor units, and other I/O modules. It will provide computing resources for the primary Operator’s Control Station (OCS) on the Surveillance and Battlefield Reconnaissance Equipment (SABRE) system from DRS Technologies, Inc.

The SABRE system from DRS is a highly modular sensor suite that integrates radar, thermal imaging, and laser systems on a stabilized mast and is compatible with any type of battle command network (Figure 2). It provides scouts, forward observers, and tactical air controllers with the ability to perform reconnaissance and targeting at extended ranges. The system facilitates operations while hidden or on the move in rugged environments, share targeting data from multiple sensors across battle command networks. The SABRE system was updated to accommodate the Canadian Army Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) Surveillance Program.

Figure 2 The SABRE system from DRS is a highly modular sensor suite that integrates radar, thermal imaging, and laser systems on a stabilized mast and is compatible with any type of battle command network.

Video Over Internet Protocol

Military system developers general made the choice several years back the Internet Protocol is the most efficient technology for networking data, and video distribution is definitely part of that trend. Along those lines, RFEL launched a new video management solution for Video-over-Internet-Protocol (Video-over-IP) systems at this year’s DSEI show in London. The systems are designed to provide highly optimized distribution and processing solutions for the management of low latency video data from one or more sensors to the type of Video-over-IP displays and compute nodes that are now commonplace in modern vehicle and airborne mission equipment systems.


The first product of the line, FlexNet-2, is a Mil-spec, optimized video processing sub-system, powered by RFEL’s HALO architecture and realized from the tried-and-tested hardware and embedded IP of the wider HALO video processing eco-system. The unit is packaged in a rugged, waterproof small-form-factor (SFF) housing and is ready to be mounted straight into any system that needs efficient video management solutions. Functionally, the device accepts up to four analogue input video channels. It offers multiple options to map input video to Ethernet output, offering extreme low latency, compression and overlay options for symbols, text and graphics. The product is a small size, but uses standard Mil-Spec circular connectors that is easily integrated with standard cabling. With a power consumption of approximately 8 and a wide operating temperature and power supply range, the device is suited for space-constrained vehicle or airborne applications.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions
Ashburn, VA.
(703) 779-7800.

DRS Technologies
Parsippany, NJ
(973) 898-1500

Mountain Secure Systems
(303) 678-9898
Longmont, CO

RFEL Limited
Newport, Isle of Wight
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1983 216600