French have the best thermals in the world. There is a firm right now that the US want to buy but french government doesn't want to let that heppen because they make cameras that no one else has.
Russia is behind.
The Russians had a choice, they were looking at Swedish and South African and French thermals... originally for the Mi-28N I believe, and they went with Thales of France... India also chose Thales for aircraft equipment and thermals for tank upgrades.
Of course the Russians haven't been idle, they focussed on low light level TV systems during the Cold War... simply because they were a cheaper technology... the work they did on autotracking targets from video sources paid off with the Shkval EO system for the Ka-50 and Su-25TM, but they neglected thermal imaging systems for quite some time.
Contracts with Thales and producing their own equipment however gave them lots of steps up and they have quite a few thermal imaging products from hand held, NVG, rifle mounted, vehicle mounted, aircraft mounted, and ship and satellite mounted EO systems.
As you can see from this image the T-80, like most Soviet tanks that don't have separate pano sights have commander sights attached to their cupola that can rotate 360 degrees to allow the so called hunter killer operational mode... obviously a pano sight with thermal imaging equipment increases viewing distance in bad weather or at night or through dust and smoke, but the concept is basically the same... a pano sight is not a requirement for HK mode, but is a good implementation of it.
Is there any info on the export website?
or the KBP website?
(sorry the english language version of this page does not seem to be working... maybe a file was deleted or moved or perhaps they are updating it..)