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Electro-optical Seeker



OBJECTIVE: Develop a compact electro-optical seeker that provides high resolution, high sensitivity, and high update rates (low dwell times) for the detection and discrimination of tactical surface targets at extremely high closure rates. 

DESCRIPTION: The detection and discrimination of tactical surface targets (land and sea) can be accomplished using a sophisticated electro-optical seeker integrated in a fast moving projectile. There are many complex issues including aerothermal issues for the seeker and window/aperture, size, weight and power constraints, target characteristics and contrast with the background as a function of weather and diurnal cycle, stabilization error/jitter, and very high velocity/closure rates. The objective is to develop a compact electro-optical seeker that exploits multi-spectral discrimination techniques using one or more spectral regions from the visible through LWIR to differentiate man-made objects from natural background. The electro-optical seeker will need to survive gun launch accelerations of 50,000 g and aerothermal issues that result from multi-minute hypervelocity flight in the lower atmosphere. Aerothermal survivability extends to the window material used on the projectiles surface as the aperture for the seeker. The size, weight, and power (SWaP) available in the projectile for the seeker is 10 cubic inches, 1 pound and 20 Watts. 

PHASE I: Define and develop a concept for a compact electro-optical seeker that can meet the target discrimination performance, survive the projectile gun launch environment, hypervelocity travel environment, and the SWaP constraints listed in the description. Perform modeling and simulation to provide initial assessment of concept performance. Phase I Option, assuming the assessment supports concept feasibility; describe the approach and capability to build two prototype units in Phase II. 

PHASE II: Development of no less than two prototype electro-optical seekers based on Phase I work for demonstration and validation. The prototypes should be delivered at the end of Phase II for testing by the government. Both seekers will undergo extensive performance testing in the lab to characterize overall performance and to note any deviations in performance. The first seeker will undergo a canister gun launch to assess gun launch survivability. The second seeker will undergo static range testing to determine detection and discrimination performance against surface targets for a variety of weather and diurnal cycle conditions. Dynamic tracking will also be assessed. 

PHASE III: Manufacture no less than three additional prototype electro-optical seekers based on Phase II and integrate them into three Government furnished projectiles for dynamic flight and guidance testing. The first round will determine the seeker’s ability to function throughout the projectile’s flight following a nominal gun launch. The second launch will assess the seeker’s ability to guide the projectile to a manmade test target. The third round will assess the seeker’s ability to guide the projectile to a representative threat tactical target. Successful testing will result in transition of the electro-optical seeker into a program of record for acquisition. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL: Private sector commercial potential includes security cameras and pollutant and hazardous waste detection. 


1: Jason Tiffany, F. Christophe Brown, Kyle Manning, William Kellermeyer, Don King, David Drewry Jr. High-g launch testing of a low-cost un-cooled LWIR imager. Proc SPIE, 2014.

2:  Kristan P Gurton and Scotlund McIntosh. Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR) Polarimetric and Radiometric Analysis for a Variety of Thermal and Electromagnetic Suppressing Materials. Army Research Laboratory, ARL-TR-7009, August 2014.

3:  M. Felton, K. P. Gurton, J. L. Pezzaniti, D. B. Chenault, and L. E. Roth. Comparison of the Inversion Periods for Mid-wave IR (MidIR) and Long-wave IR (LWIR) Polarimetric and Conventional Thermal Imagery. Army Research Laboratory, ARL-TR-5153, April 2010.

4:  David B. Chenault, Justin P. Vaden, Douglas A. Mitchell, and Erik D. Demicco. New IR polarimeter for improved detection of oil on water. SPIE.

KEYWORDS: EO/IR Seeker, Projectile, Hypervelocity, Visible, SWIR, LWIR, IR, Imager, G-loads, Survivability 


Francis Barnhart 

(703) 526-2681 

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