TNO developed the Tanker Remote Vision System (TRVS), with corresponding spare parts, documentation and testing equipment to the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The Air Force now has a new, sophisticated vision system to enable fighter jets to be re-fuelled in flight by KDC-10 tankers. The new vision system was installed and certified in December 2009. Since then the system is operational.
TRVS was developed by TNO in close cooperation with the Netherlands Air Force during the years 2003 to 2007, from in-flight prototype testing to the operationally ready product. Development and production of the two systems delivered to the Air Force were carried out at TNO, with much of the work being outsourced to project partners that included Arvoo, Adimec, Barco and Glenair.
It is unique for TNO to both develop and deliver a complete system, especially since the system is one that is ready for operational use. KLM Engineering & Maintenance was responsible for installing the TRVS into the two KDC-10 tankers. After following formal certification in line with aviation standards, nowadays the systems are operational. The Netherlands Air Force takes care of primary and second line maintenance. TNO is involved as advisor for maintenance and continuation of the TRVS.
The new vision system makes in-flight refuelling three times more accurate than with the naked eye. The images produced by the system are stereoscopic, have a very high resolution and enormous contrast sensitivity. The operator has a perfect three-dimensional view of the aircraft being refuelled, both in total darkness and full-on sunlight; all the relevant details are fully visible. The United States Air Force along with aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Northop Grumman, all developing such systems themselves for the newest generation tankers, have expressed interest in the system developed by TNO.