Sensor Allows Troops to Collect Infrared Images from Vehicles

By Valerie Insinna
Ground forces are continually looking for ways to increase situational awareness on the go, but collecting live video from a moving vehicle can often be tricky in rough terrain that jostles sensors and cameras.

Falck Schmidt Defense Systems and Raytheon have partnered to launch the long-range reconnaissance and surveillance forward looking infrared system, a mast-mounted sensor installed on a wheeled or tracked vehicle.

Denmark-based defense contractor Falck Schmidt developed the mast. Raytheon manufactured the FLIR, a variant of its long-range advance scout surveillance system.

It allows troops to collect infrared imagery in a moving vehicle while the sensor is fully elevated, officials said.

“When you have a precision optic, you need a very stable base ... or else it just sits up there and shakes, like you put your sensor on the end of a fishing pole,” said Pius Boehm, Raytheon’s project manager. Most legacy masts have that problem, he added.

In tests on an M113 tracked vehicle, the system showed it could capture imagery even while traveling at speeds of 50 miles an hour on a paved road and 30 miles per hour through bumpy terrain, such as a field, said Steen Garnaes, chief sales officer for Falck Schmidt.

The mast used in testing reached almost 10 feet when fully extended, but customers have the option of purchasing masts of different heights. 

They are made of lightweight composite materials and are mechanically driven, meaning that technicians don’t have to worry about leaks like they would with hydraulic systems, Garnaes said.

“If they are penetrated with small arms fire, the worst that could happen is that a section [of the mast] collapses, but the rest of the mast will be able to run up and down,” he said.

The system has already been demonstrated to Danish land forces, and the next step is proving the technology to the U.S. Army, Jan Falck Schmidt, president and CEO of Falck Schmidt Defence Systems, told reporters at a recent conference.

The company has yet to try the technology on wheeled or unmanned ground vehicles, said Boehm. “The wheeled vehicles will be a much more simpler environment.”

Topics: Business Trends, C4ISR, Sensors, Science and Engineering Technology

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