I really should change my personal text
- Jul 4, 2013
- Reaction score
Infrared search and track sensor (IRST) systems are considered a high-value asset to the United States Air Force. Current systems can search, track and target enemy aircraft and discriminate between multiple aircraft at intermediate to long ranges better than many traditional radar systems fielded today. The unique capabilities of IRST technology is now driving the demand to provide the same capabilities for a variety of different tactical aircraft by improving performance and reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP). A key element to this approach is to move from a steered, small focal lane array (FPA) to a staring, large-format FPA. By eliminating the requirement for bulky mechanical stabilization and pointing hardware, a high-performance, low-SWaP, flexible IRST system can be realized. The challenge to developing such a system is in performing image stabilization in the presence of full aircraft kinematic movement. Toyon in partnership with Lockheed Martin Santa Barbara Focalplane, proposes a solution that uses IMU-based stabilization and innovative infrared search and threat identification algorithms to exploit the rich capabilities of LM-SBFs latest nBn sensors. The proposed system will result in a low-SWaP, wide-field-of-view (WFOV) staring IRST capable of long-range detection and tracking of targets in cluttered environments.; BENEFIT: At the end of the Phase I effort Toyon will have developed an approach for providing non-mechanical image stabilization for a staring WFOV IRST sensor. The Phase II work will lead to the development of a prototype staring IRST sensor based on the design approach established within the Phase I effort. Such a system will result in a high-performance, low-SWaP, WFOV IRST sensor with the flexibility to be installed on a variety of different tactical aircraft. In addition to being deployed in Air Force tactical networks, the main commercial prospect is in the field of commercial surveillance.
Successful implementation of an offensive staring infrared search and track (IRST) system can potentially yield significant benefits when incorporated into a fighter aircraft fire control system. It is anticipated that this type of passive sensor will yield higher performance in a more compact, lighter weight design with greater installation flexibility. Advancements in large format two-dimensional FPAs and readout integrated circuits offer potential advantages in clutter rejection, more frequent updates, longer integration times, multi-frame detection techniques, and image stabilization. It is expected that by exploiting these advantages, an IRST can be developed that supports long range detection and tracking of targets in cluttered environments with a low false alarm rate over a large field-of-view (FOV).
By leveraging advancements in the development of large format two-dimensional FPAs for wide FOV search and track to maximize aircraft installation flexibility and yield the highest performance in the most compact and light weight design, it is preferable to eliminate all mechanical pointing and line of sight stabilization components. This is especially critical for embedded/conformal sensors on highly dynamic aircraft. It is expected that successful implementation of electronic image stabilization and exploitation of other advantages of large format arrays will result in a novel and innovative IRST. It is envisioned that such a system can be developed to support long range detection and tracking of targets along clear atmospheric paths and in cluttered environments with low false alarm rates while staring over the system FOV.
The technical focus of this topic is to explore novel techniques and sensor chip assembly design concepts that can provide rapid control of the field of view from the subpixel level to a substantial fraction of the field of view to enable fine line-of-sight stabilization in addition to image motion compensation during aircraft maneuvering. The sensor wavelength bands of interest are midwave (3.0 to 5.0 microns) and longwave (8.0 to 12.0 microns). Stabilization must occur during the integration time of the FPA and requires an appropriate bandwidth input source.
Non-mechanical stabilization techniques such as those implemented in the FPA/readout integrated circuits of the sensor are of primary interest, but other techniques shall be considered. Mechanical and non-mechanical beam steering approaches are specifically excluded from this solicitation.
Teaming/collaborating with prime contractors to develop transition approaches is encouraged.
PHASE I: Investigate component-level concepts and techniques. Perform initial component prototype development and experiments to validate concepts. Establish system design implementation and provide technical analysis that supports the proposed design and quantify expected performance. Develop business case analysis and transition plan.
PHASE II: Based on Phase I results, construct and test a prototype imaging sensor to demonstrate and evaluate the design concept. Identify and reduce the risk of the component technologies needed to perfect the design and demonstrate the approaches needed for commercialization of a flight-capable instrument. Refine business case and transition plan.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition the newly demonstrated design to DoD industry partners. There may be some commercial applications that could benefit from the proposed approach.