FLIR Systems, which has long concentrated on its mature InSb FPA technology has been internally developing Type 2 Superlattice (T2SL) FPAs for use in future products.The company, which has been part of the VISTA consortium, is making use of the InAs/GaSb epitaxial structures that have been developed by JPL and NRL under the VISTA program and grown by IntelliEPI and IQE. It is expected that the company will soon introduce a camera core based on a HOT MWIR 640 x 512 FPA with 15 micron pixels.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have signed a contract under which Raytheon will provide the next-generation EO-DAS (Electro-optical-Distributed Aperture System) for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The new system will make use of very large format, small pixel MWIR nBn FPAs developed by Raytheon Vision Systems (Goleta, California).
A breakthrough in the more widespread use of Type 2 Superlattice (T2SL) FPAs is about to occur. One of the largest infrared applications in the U.S. - the EO-DAS (Electro-optical-Distributed Aperture System) for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - is being upgraded to T2SL FPAs (from the existing large format InSb FPAs).The Air Force anticipates two potential upgrades.
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Active Protection Systems (APS) for armored vehicles are becoming a necessity as rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and anti-armor munitions become more effective against even the best armor. In APS systems an incoming round is detected and tracked and a counter munition is fired to destroy the round before it can damage the vehicle.
In the most recent systems, infrared FPAs are being used.
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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 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
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.
DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office has awarded four 3-year contracts for the development of near room temperature (or “HOT - High Operating Temperature”) mid-wave infrared focal plane arrays. The FPAs are intended for future use in ground-based threat warning systems.
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.