Good Initial Images in the MWIR – But Much Remains to Be Done
UK Builds ASRAAM Inventory for its New F-35 Fighters
The effort in Japan to develop Type 2 Superlattice (T2SL) FPAs in Japan has taken a big step forward. Researchers at Sumitomo Electric, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Ritsumeikan University have fabricated a 320 x 256/30 InAs/GaSb FPA with a 6 µm cutoff and an NETD of 31mK.
IRnova is developing megapixel T2SL (Type 2 Superlattice) FPAs to be used for imaging spectroscopy to detect various types of cancer. The aim is to develop both MWIR and LWIR FPAs with 1280 x 1024 format and 12 μm pixel pitch.
A new home for Airbus DS Optronics
After numerous delays over a period of ten years, the U.S. Army has finally put 3rd Gen FLIR onto a path where it will become reality. Awards have been made for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) for the 3rd Gen B-kit which will be used to upgrade 2nd Gen B-kits in a number of vehicle sighting systems and in targeting systems. The 3rd Gen B-kit consists of a Dewar Cooler Bench (DCB), afocal imager and circuit card assemblies.
5N Plus Semiconductors (St. George, Utah) has developed an improved method of growing InSb boules that enables the efficient production of high quality InSb wafers and holds out the promise for higher yield InSb FPAs at lower cost.
Big Increases in Unit Volumes Have Not Translated to Revenue Growth
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an Airworthiness Circular with guidance for obtaining airworthiness approval for installation of a Synthetic Vision System (SVS) – which the FAA calls a “Synthetic Vision Guidance System (SVGS)” - in aircraft.
Three SPIE infrared technology and application conferences – all part of SPIE’s DCS16 Defense & Security symposium – will feature the latest developments in IR technology and sensor systems. Two sessions of the “Infrared Technology and Applications XLII” conference have been separated from that conference. They have been expanded into two new conferences – “Advanced Optics for Defense Applications: UV through LWIR” and “Tri-Technology Device Refrigeration (TTDR)”. The reasons for this separation are the important new developments taking place in the fields of optics and cryocoolers.
The U.S. Patent Office has ruled in favor of FLIR Systems in a patent infringement suit in which Leak Surveys (Early, Texas) claimed that FLIR’s gas finder (GasFindIR) cameras infringed on their patents.
However, Leak Surveys is now appealing that decision in Federal Appeals Court.
While the world is agonizing over weakness in the Chinese economy, infrared technology and the infrared industry in China are booming. They are driven not so much by commercial export markets but mostly by domestic government procurement programs and private investment spending.
Helping to accelerate this was a large government program during the past year.
At the recent CIOE China International Optoelectronic Expo in Shenzhen companies showed off the latest developments in cooled and uncooled detectors and systems.
DIR Technologies (Haifa, Israel) is introducing a new thermal imaging system for 100% on-line inspection of induction-sealed bottles used in Food, Cosmetics and other industries.
The I2VS (Induction Integrity Verification System) Lite verifies the aluminum foil seal at the top of bottles, such as those containing vitamins and packaged food.
The system is a follow on to the company’s standard I2VS system which is used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The company makes use of both cooled and uncooled FPAs to view the integrity of the seal at rates up to 400 bottles per minute (which is as fast as the induction sealing machines are capable of heat sealing prior to inspection.)
Develops HOT MWIR Software-based Core
Competing with Uncooled
Would you believe 71%?
Ultra-Small Muti-Band Uncooled Camera
Border Patrol Awards a New Surveillance Contract to General Dynamics
“Launch on Remote”
Honeywell’s Demonstration of Blended Infrared and Synthetic Vision on Primary Flight Displays
No Further MOD Support Expected
Defense Segment Will Continue Work on Night Vision
Synergies in Infrared
Northrop Grumman is Back in the Game
Gray Eagle UAVs Being Deployed with Three Common Sensor Payloads
The First Step to Wider Infrared Use in Commercial Aviation?
Integrating a Diversified Portfolio of Technologies
Lockheed Martin Wins ARGUS–IR Contract
Overseas IR Detector Companies Expanding U.S. Operations
The Effect on Infrared Operations
Simplifying the Small Arms Video Sight
U.S. Also Proposing Easier Export Controls for Thermal Imagers in Two Application Areas
Northrop Grumman’s Litening G4 Jumps Ahead
Large Area Substrates Provide a Path to Practical Devices
The Latest Developments
A Deal That Makes Sense
Spectral Images for Operational Use
Selects FLIR Systems to Provide Infrared Systems – with potential for much more
How Will the Acquisition Affect the Commercial and Military Infrared Markets?
Solving the “Safety Scan” Problem
Groups Worldwide Vie to Operate Their Cooled FPAs “Less Cool”
Launches FastFPA Program
Their Effect on Infrared
Some of the Potential Buyers
Measures Performance Against New NFPA Draft Standard and Comes Up with a Few Surprises
SDD Contract Sets the Stage for Production of 3rd Gen FLIR Engines
Obtaining High Yield with Mercury Cadmium Telluride
Market Separates into High and Low Ends
Increases Product Offerings
The Strategy Behind the Move
Sensor Systems in Limbo
Pilotage sensors vs. EVS
The system is making use of custom-designed FPAs
The Alternative Infrared Satellite System (AIRSS) program has become a follow-on to SBIRS High
FLIR Systems has lost a lawsuit against two former Indigo Systems executives whom it claimed were misappropriating trade secrets and against whom FLIR was seeking a permanent injunction to prevent them from starting a new venture to produce uncooled microbolometers.
The Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program for developing a robust mid-course ballistic missile interceptor is moving to a prototype seeker that will be able to track multiple targets and then guide multiple kill vehicles to destroy them.
The 2-day IDGA Night Vision Conference at the end of July includes a number of high-level presentations
Finmeccanica S.p.A. (Italy) has agreed to acquire DRS Technologies for $5.2 billion in cash.
The U.S. Army’s effort to develop and field a 3rd Gen FLIR is moving into the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.
L-3 Communications has signed an agreement to acquire Northrop Grumman's Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) business for $175 million in cash. The EOS business had 2007 revenues of approximately $190 million in night vision goggles, weapons sights, driver viewers, image intensifier tubes and applied optics products.
The UK’s Albion program for developing 3rd Gen FPAs has gone into Phase 2 with the award by the UK MOD of a £5.8 million (approximately $10.6 million) three-year contract to prime contractor Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems.
World commercial and dual-use infrared imaging markets soared by 30% in 2007.
Goodrich Corp. has formed a new ISR Systems (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance) business unit out of the former Optical & Space Systems (OSS) division. The new unit has its headquarters in Chelmsford, Mass., and includes operations in Danbury, Conn., Albuquerque, N.M., Princeton, N.J., Ithaca, N.Y., and Malvern (UK).
The application of thermal imaging to medicine has long been heralded as one of the most promising application areas. One of the most hotly pursued areas has been screening for breast cancer.
SPIE’s Infrared Technology and Applications XXXIV Conference – a part of SPIE’s Defense & Security Symposium - will feature the latest developments in IR technology and sensor systems. The four day conference, with concurrently running sessions on Monday and Tuesday, will be held from March 17 to 20 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
IRnova is moving up the infrared food chain and is now offering its customers full Detector Dewar Cooler Assemblies (DDCAs) instead of just QWIP focal plane arrays. The DDCAs are provided together with partners that specialize in detector and cooler manufacturing.
FLIR Systems has completed the acquisition of 69.3% of the shares (at 19 euros per share or a total of 42.3 million euros) of Cedip Infrared Systems after obtaining approval from the French Ministry of Finance and Economy. FLIR Systems Holdings SAS, the company’s French subsidiary will now proceed to acquire the remaining shares of Cedip for the same 19 euro price.
A new generation of Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) for aircraft is close to being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Kollsman’s EVS II, an enhanced version of its original EVS, makes use of SCD’s 320 x240 InSb FPA on a Blue Fairy read-out and provides 30% increase in sensitivity.
The EO/IR system for the U.S. Navy’s next-generation DDG 1000 (Zumwalt class) destroyer (including stealth and electric propulsion) is moving into the production phase.The EO/IR system is being developed by a team being led by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems
Axsys Technologies has sold its Distributed Products business for $15 million. The divestiture of this business (which supplies bearings) allows Axsys to concentrate on its infrared and optics businesses which it is reorganizing into the following segments:
Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, LLC has entered into an agreement to acquire Judson Technologies, LLC.
BAE Systems has completed the first test of an autonomous landing system intended for large mobility and transport aircraft. The test demonstrated the system’s ability to enhance pilot vision in a simulated zero-visibility landing scenario.
The fabrication of mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) FPAs by MOVPE (Metal Organic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) continues to make rapid progress. Most recently, both Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems, S&AS and QinetiQ have achieved new performance levels with dual-band (MW/LW) FPAs.
ICx Technologies launched an Initial Public Offering of 5 million shares of its common stock at a price of $16.00 per share on the NASDAQ market. However, the company was caught in the volatility of the markets and shares dropped to under $8 before recovering to over $9 on November 27.
The successful development of dual-band 640 x 480 and 720 x 1280 mercury cadmium telluride focal plane arrays (FPA) under the DBFM (Dual-Band Flexible Manufacturing) program at the end of 2006, is giving rise to a flurry of activity to demonstrate complete 3rd Gen systems and take full advantage of this powerful technology.
The size of infrared focal plane arrays (FPA) is poised for a large increase. Currently, both InSb and MWIR MCT arrays have been fabricated in a 2K x 2K monolithic configuration, with the InSb FPA used in the SHARP reconnaissance pod and the MCT FPA used in the NIRCam instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems is seeking to unseat IAI-Tamam as the supplier of the EO/IR system on the U.S. Army’s Shadow 200 Tactical UAV (RQ-7B). The Army wants an upgrade of the Shadow EO/IR system which includes a laser designator.
FLIR Systems has entered into an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in Cedip Infrared Systems in a deal that values the French company at 62.7 million euros (approximately $86.4 million).
Northrop Grumman is preparing its latest Litening AT targeting pod for flight tests in November. The new Litening AT (currently called 4th Gen Litening) makes use of a 1024 x 1024 InSb FPA (18 µm pixels) detector module (made by FLIR/Indigo), a 1024 x 1024 CCD visible sensor, a new dual-band laser designator and range finder, laser spot tracker and infrared laser marker.
Cantronic Systems is re-organizing its products into two divisions: Thermography and Security/Night Vision.
The world military infrared systems market grew at a blazing growth rate in 2006.
Nova Sensors is developing a new generation of Read-In-Integrated Circuits (RIIC) which will enable infrared scene projectors (IRSPs) to run at much higher temperatures and thus be able to better simulate the hot exhausts and plumes of missiles.
The Defense Advancement Research Projects Agency, DARPA is soliciting a wide range of new research projects for its Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). Infrared technologies play an important part.
Infrared scene projection (IRSP) is a valuable tool for characterizing military systems such as missile seekers. Thermal IRSPs are essentially microbolometers run in reverse: in which a current is passed through electrodes on the suspended microbridge elements.
Goodrich ISR Systems has been awarded a contract by the Naval Research Laboratory to modify the high-performance imaging sensor used on the high-altitude U-2 surveillance aircraft for use as a space payload.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SBInet sensor network on the Mexican border went into operation along a 28 mile stretch southwest of Tucson. The first section of the “virtual fence” consists of nine 98 foot towers with visible and infrared cameras that send images to a command center and to specially equipped Border Patrol vehicles.
FLIR Commercial Vision Systems is introducing the latest in its line of thermal imaging systems for marine use. The company’s Navigator™ is now available in three configurations: fixed, 360º pan, or full pan/tilt.
On the Lookout for More Infrared Business
Lockheed Martin is introducing a new pilotage sensor for cargo and utility aircraft. The sensor was recently demonstrated on a UH-1 helicopter at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Research on Type II Superlattice (T2SL) FPAs is increasing rapidly as evidenced by the ten papers presented on these detectors at the April SPIE Infrared Technology & Applications Conference in Orlando. Currently, most of this work is aimed at improving performance in the LWIR, since good performance has already been demonstrated in the MWIR.
Judson Technologies LLC, which has traditionally focused on single-element and linear array infrared detectors, is entering the infrared FPA and camera market.
Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems, S&AS is continuing to make rapid progress with its process for making mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) FPAs by MOVPE (Metal Organic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) on GaAs substrates. The MOVPE fabrication process, which is being supported by the UK’s 3rd Gen Albion program, has become a viable method for making MCT FPAs with good yield on relatively large substrates.
Carl Zeiss Optronics GmbH is acquiring a 70% interest in Denel Optronics, which is owned by the state-owned defense group Denel Pty. Ltd. and is currently undergoing partial privatization. The German company and Denel Optronics have collaborated closely on technology for a number of years.
Sofradir has been awarded a EUR 3.2 million (USD 4.2 million) contract by NEC Toshiba Space for an infrared detector to be used on the Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM) satellite of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Acreo AB is spinning off its QWIP (Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector) business to a new company called IRnova AB.
A big increase (but not for all infrared programs)
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to start a number of infrared programs in fiscal 2008 (starting October 1st).
SPIE’s Infrared Technology and Applications XXXIII Conference – a part of SPIE’s DSS - Defense & Security Symposium - will feature the latest developments in IR technology and sensor systems. The five day conference will be held from April 9 to April 13 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
Esterline Corp. has agreed to buy CMC Electronics for $335 million. CMC Electronics (formerly Canadian Marconi Canada) is a leading supplier of avionics systems including both cooled and uncooled infrared Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) for pilots.
The combined world commercial and dual-use infrared imaging and spot infrared thermometry market grew at a blistering nearly 20% pace in 2006.
Israel is changing its export control policies and will adhere to the Wassenaar Arrangement’s Control Lists for both Munitions items and for Dual-Use items. According to the Wassenaar agreements, dual-use products go through a licensing procedure that is usually administered by a commerce department or ministry.
3rd Gen infrared technology has moved out of R&D with the completion of the U.S. Army’s Dual-Band FPA Manufacturing Program (DBFM). The technology is being transitioned from an Advanced Technology Objective (ATO) to Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) in which complete 3rd Gen FLIR engines (B-kits) will be developed over the next 2 - 3 years.
The acquisition by Cantronic Systems, Inc. of QWIP Systems (the Canadian parent of QWIPTECH in the U.S.) has been completed. Both companies are publicly traded in Canada.
QinetiQ has been awarded a two-year, $5 million research contract by DARPA in support of its Large Area Coverage Optical Search While Track and Engage (LACOSTE) program. Under LACOSTE, extremely-wide field-of-view coded aperture imaging technology will be used to support single sensor day/night persistent tactical surveillance of all moving vehicles in a large urban battlefield.
Type II Superlattice (T2SL) FPAs have made great progress over the last three years. Some are even heralding these detectors as the successor to mercury cadmium telluride.
Sofradir is starting construction on a new Fab near Grenoble that will double its production capacity of cooled infrared focal plane arrays and position the company to supply 3rd Gen FPAs. The new facility will produce mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) FPAs by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) on 4” germanium substrates (compared to the currently used 2” CZT substrates).
The Image Fusion 2007 conference to be held between January 22 and 24 in Alexandria, Virginia is expected to cover a wide range of topics that are increasingly important for a wide number of applications.
The U.S. Air Force is hedging its bets on the long-delayed Space Based Infrared System High and starting an alternative program that injects the most recent advances in infrared focal plane array technology.
CMC Electronics has shipped its 100th EVS (Enhanced Vision System) for aircraft. Most of these are the SureSight® I-Series.
The new enhanced version of the German future soldier system, IdZ-ES (Infanteristen der Zukunft) is increasing the number of infrared sights to be provided to soldiers. Earlier this year The German MoD’s BWB procurement agency awarded the prime contract for an enhanced version of IdZ to prime contractor Rheinmetall.
Kollsman is preparing to roll out its uncooled enhanced vision system for general aviation aircraft, GAViS™ (General Aviation Vision System).
Siemens Building Technologies has signed an agreement to acquire VistaScape Security Systems as a wholly owned subsidiary.
QWIPTECH is seeking to broaden its presence in the infrared market from just being a supplier of QWIP FPAs. The company has signed a contract with Mectron to provide enhanced infrared detector assemblies for the seekers of Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
The Department of Homeland Security has awarded the first phase of the Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) contract to a team led by Boeing. The program is intended to help secure both America’s southern and northern borders with a network of sensors.
SELEX Sensors & Airborne Systems has moved its mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) grown by MOVPE (Metal Organic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) on low-cost GaAs substrates into production. The company is now producing 640 x 480 LWIR FPAs - dubbed “Eagle LW”- with a cut-off wavelength of 9.7µm.
Cantronic Systems, Inc. has agreed to merge with QWIP Systems (the Canadian company which is the parent of QWIPTECH in the U.S.) Both companies are publicly traded in Canada.
Teledyne Technologies, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Rockwell Scientific Co., RSC, Los Angeles, California) for $167.5 million in cash from Rockwell Collins and Rockwell Automation.
FLIR Systems has been selected by Bell Helicopter Textron to supply the EO system for the Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). FLIR will supply the BRITE Star II® airborne stabilized multi-sensor system (640 x 480 InSb) as the Target Acquisition Sensor Suite (TASS) for ARH.
CEDIP Infrared has launched an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Alternext market of the Euronext Exchange. The company’s existing 2,500,000 shares of stock have been admitted on Alternext. In addition, a maximum of 712,500 new shares have been issued and admitted to the exchange.
Thales is seeking to expand its presence in optronics in the U.S.
SELEX Sensors & Airborne Systems is moving ahead in the UK’s Albion program for the development of 3rd Gen FPAs based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) FPAs grown by MOVPE (Metal Organic Vapor Phase Epitaxy). After experimenting with both GaAs and GaAs:Si (GaAs on silicon) substrates, researchers have settled on the GaAs substrates because of the lower defect levels and the better stability of defect levels at storage temperatures to 100ºC.
Siemens AG has acquired a minority stake in thermal imaging company Thermosensorik GmbH. The investment was made through Siemens Venture Capital and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
Germany’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is moving closer to procuring the Trigat LR (Long Range) anti-armor missiles for the country’s Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. The MoD has already allocated 380 million euros for 600 Trigats.
AIM Infrarot-Module - working in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Institut, IAF, - has demonstrated a new level of performance for Type II Superlattice (T2SL) focal plane arrays operating in the mid-wave.
FLIR Systems has re-organized its Imaging business into two separate Divisions: a commercial imaging division and a government imaging division. The company also plans to invest $15 million to significantly increase the capacity of its uncooled VOx microbolometer production facility in Santa Barbara.
Raytheon’s Airspace Management and Homeland Security business is launching an Integrated Airport Security System (IASS) that makes it easier for airports to ensure the safety of passengers from their arrival at the airport to departure in the aircraft. .
Santa Barbara Infrared, Inc. (SBIR), a HEICO company, has shipped the first of its Large Format Resistive Array (LFRA) IR Scene Projectors, which are based on a 1024 x 1024 array of microresistors on a custom CMOS Read In Integrated Circuit (RIIC). The company has orders for 10 full systems and 3 spare projection heads from U.S. government customers representing the three military services.
Researchers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory have achieved a significant breakthrough by fabricating the first large format QDIP Quantum Dot Infrared Photodetector) FPA. The 640 x 512 FPA formed excellent images and had an NETD of 40 mK at an operating temperature of 60 K.
The German program for the Infantryman of the Future (IdZ - Infanteristen der Zukunft) is being upgraded with additional capabilities. Currently, the IdZ thermal weapon sight is based on an AIM HuntIR sight that makes use of a 384 x 288 MWIR mercury cadmium telluride FPA.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Strategic Border Initiative program (SBInet) is shaping up to be a boon for infrared technology. SBInet has two major themes: controlling the border and immigration enforcement.
The combined world commercial and dual-use infrared imaging and spot infrared thermometry market is growing rapidly. Uncooled infrared focal plane array technology used in a broad range of applications continues to be the major driving factor.
Opgal is partnering with WinSoft on infrared systems. Opgal cameras will be available with the WinSoft ThermaVu software development kit for image analysis, camera control and thermal analysis.
SPIE’s Infrared Technology and Applications XXXII Conference – a part of SPIE’s DSS - Defense & Security Symposium - will feature the latest developments in IR technology and sensor systems. The five day conference will be held from April 17 to April 21 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.
Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, ARL, in cooperation with Rockwell Scientific Corp. are making significant progress toward being able to fabricate MCT (mercury cadmium telluride) FPAs by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) directly on composite silicon substrates. Recently, they succeeded in making 256 x 256 pixel LWIR MCT FPAs (40 µm pitch) on silicon substrates having a lattice-matched CdSeTe buffer layer. Initial results indicate an NETD of 33 mK for a cut-off wavelength of 10 µm. Operability (fraction of usable pixels) was measured to be 99%.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s SeeCoast port surveillance program is adding infrared and electro-optic cameras to the Port Security and Monitoring System so as to detect, classify and track vessels.
IRCAM GmbH, the new company founded in May 2005, by former managers of Thermosensorik GmbH has introduced a new dual-band QWIP camera. The GEMINIS 110k ML makes use of a dual-band 384 x 288 QWIP FPA made by AIM Infrarot-Module.
Researchers from the Army Research Laboratory, ARL are teaming with BAE Systems under the Advanced Sensor Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) program to make mid-wave Type II Superlattice (T2SL) focal plane arrays. The semiconductor layers (InAs on a GaSb substrate) were grown by ARL and the FPA processing and hybridization to an Indigo ISC9809 read-out IC (ROIC) were carried out at BAE Systems.