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What Makes an Electro-Optical/Infrared Imaging System Effective?

Integrated Mission Systems
Jun 17, 2024 | 3 MINUTE Read

The new global battlefield has emerged as an ideal proving ground for unmanned platforms and counter-unmanned solutions. Across the air, land and maritime domains, new automated technologies have permitted platforms to increase their speed, agility, covertness, effectiveness and threat. As a result, operators have a critical need for increased and reliable communication through high-quality EO/IR imaging and sensor system performance. 

1. Stand-Off Range

VAMPIRE and WESCAM MX™-Series gimbal

L3Harris’ line of WESCAM MX™-Series electro-optical/infrared systems enables operators to see first and act first due to a wide range of stand-off distances. WESCAM MX-Series EO/IR systems have extremely high performance and capability,  giving them the longest EO/IR target identification and designating ranges in the industry.

Newly designed, next-generation laser designators and laser rangefinders enable the latest models of our systems to work at longer stand-off distances from large or small targets, enhancing decision-making confidence, cross-domain communication and team collaboration. These new capabilities allow our imaging systems and operators to be more efficient and precise when engaging stationary or moving threats from multiple positions in contested environments. 

2. Medium-Wave and Short-Wave Infrared

Gimbal view

L3Harris uses ongoing field tests with experienced operators to assess WESCAM MX-Series systems through various live scenarios, including identifying persons and vehicles at a distance through smoke and under various weather conditions such as haze and dust. These tests help confirm the use of integrated medium wave infrared (MWIR) technology to view targets through heavy and dense atmospheric conditions. In addition, field tests have proven that WESCAM MX-Series systems’ blended short-wave infrared (SWIR) and MWIR cameras provide a thoroughly detailed, high-definition scene to identify threats at various ranges, providing critical ISR overmatch. 



3. Automatic Video Tracking 


L3Harris’ WESCAM MX-Series automatic video-tracking technology is designed and tuned by our expert software engineering team. The video tracker uses motion-based algorithms that have been tailored for real-time ground based applications. These advanced tracking algorithms greatly simplify the target acquisition process. The system can automatically annotate multiple targets closest to the center of the line-of-sight based on their movement and allow the operator to cycle through each target. This, coupled with robust tracking through degraded visual environments, enables operators to track targets effectively in challenging terrain and urban environments.

4. Stabilization & Reliability

Helicopter over land

Today’s mission needs require stabilization and reliability to ensure success under the most severe operational environments. WESCAM MX-Series systems offer multi-axis gimbals, with each system’s payload fully stabilized. 

Our proven stabilization architecture also stops line-of-sight jitter by employing a combination of passive damping and active motion cancellation on a vibration-isolated payload for on-the-move engagements. This advanced stabilization applies to the entire payload so that every internal device and function benefits from the same level of jitter suppression. This results in a smooth and stable high-definition image, maximizing target identification ranges. 

Stability, situational awareness, operator workload and degraded visual environments continue to be challenges for unmanned platforms. WESCAM MX-Series systems directly address these obstacles with high-performance stability and multi-spectral sensors that provide enhanced image processing and acuity along with precise geo-pointing technologies for hands-free operation regardless of aircraft movement or obstructions.

5. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Helicopter UAV

L3Harris is increasing the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) to provide new, state-of-the art target tracking and recognition capabilities, allowing for improved situational awareness for operators in challenging terrain and environments.

The use of AI/ML at the edge will become more pervasive to automate manual and focus-intensive tasks, improve situational awareness, object detection and tracking. New AI/ML advancements deliver pertinent insights to enhance imagery while also reducing time from positive target identification to engagement.


6. Platform Integration


The future of EO/IR technologies relies heavily on the successful integration of next-generation sensor systems on new global platforms designed for missions across multiple domains. This includes state-of-the-art counter-UAS platforms such as L3Harris’ VAMPIRE™. Globally, our imaging and targeting systems are found on more than 260 different types of platforms, including fixed-wing, rotor-wing, UAV, land and maritime platforms. Featuring common electronics and cabling, common user interfaces and video overlays, WESCAM MX-Series EO/IR sensor systems offer “plug-and-play” installation and encourage ease and familiarity of use, simplified turret interchangeability within fleets, efficiencies in technology enhancements and overall system support. 

The capability is here. Now is the time to invest in visual technologies that dominate enemy operations.

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