Tag Archives: Forward looking infrared

Watch an ISIS compound be wiped out through an F-15E Strike Eagle’s SNIPER advanced targeting pod

An interesting point of view: from an F-15E Strike Eagle Advanced Targeting Pod

Designated AN/AAQ-33, the Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP), equips several U.S. and foreign attack planes including the B-1B “Lancer” and the F-15E Strike Eagle.

The pod, equipped with a Laser designator used to guide LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) and CCD TV camera,  is used for identification of targets (both on the ground and airborne ones), tracking, coordinate generation, and guidance.

F-15E Sniper

Although some videos recorded through the Sniper ATP are available online, here’s one released by the Pentagon showing an attack on an ISIL Compound near Kobani, Syria.

Blast aside, the symbology that appears in the ATP footage is interesting: target aside, there are a lot of symbols that we know nothing about, a result of the so-called “sensor fusion,” the combination of sensory data derived from the plane and other assets’ data sources.


Thermal images of the Boston bomber hiding in a backyard boat taken by a helicopter’s IR camera

The following thermal images were released on Twitter by the Massachusetts State Police, show the Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarneav hiding in a boat in a Watertow backyard during Apr. 19’s manhunt.

Boston bombers

Image credit: Massachusetts State Police

FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) pods carried by Police helicopters have been an important tool in helping law enforcement locate suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The helicopter was able to pick up the heat signature of the individual even if he was hiding under a cover on the boat, and direct tactical teams on the ground over to the area.

Boston Bombers 2

Modern IR (infrared) cameras are extremely sensitive to heat: they are capable to pick different temperatures at very long distances. They can pick up heat on a wall from where a hand was placed for a few seconds and show its thermal signature.

You can’t hide from these cameras unless wearing special reflective materials/suits, capable to minimize heat gain and loss.

Update: here’s the the Boston Bomber manhunt IR video

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Inside a modern (combat) helicopter: the AgustaWestland HH-139A glass cockpit

The following picture, taken at Farnborough International Airshow, gives a hint of what you might expect to find inside a modern (combat) helicopter.

The HH-139A is the military variant of the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter operating with the Italian Air Force.

The multipurpose chopper, is equipped, among all the other things, with an integrated NVG-compatible glass cockpit featuring 8in×10in active matrix liquid crystal displays with advanced graphics generation capabilites and cursor control devices.

The cockpit features also 4-axis digital Digital AFCS (automatic flight control system) with SAR modes & FMS SAR patterns, weather/search radar, TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) II, FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS), Digital video recorder, Video downlink, Moving map on flat display, Auto-Deployable ELT (ADELT) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).

Image credit: Giovanni Maduli

Of course, you don’t need to be a computer freak to be a HH-139A helicopter pilot. But you’ll feel much more comfortable in such an advanced cockpit if you have some basic System Administrator’s skills.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Los Angeles Fire Department, New Jersey State Police, Maryland State Police Aviation Command, and other major aero medical and search and rescue operators in North America are equipped with AW139 medium twin helicopters for emergency medical, search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions.

Farnborough 2012: This is the most advanced flight helmet, ever. The F-35’s Helmet Mounted Display System

The one depicted in the following pictures is the most adveniristic combat pilot’s flight helmet ever developed.

It is called “HMDS Gen II” and it is produced by Vision Systems International (VSI), the same company that has designed the very well known JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) worn by all the F-15, F-16, F-18 pilots of the U.S. armed forces and by aircrew of several other nations.

The HMDS Gen. II integrates FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) and DAS (Distributed Aperture System) imaging, night vision (without somehow uncomfortable NVGs – Night Vision Goggles) and, above all, a virtual HUD (Head Up Display) into a single helmet that weights less than 5 lb. including all compontents.

The Virtual HUD technology will make the F-35 the first front line combat plane without a “conventional” HUD:  the essential flight and weapon aiming information are project onto a virtual HUD on the visor. Fusing all the information coming from the plane’s sensors along with imagery fed by a set of cameras mounted on the jet’s outer surfaces the system provides the pilot with a X-ray vision-like imagery: he can see in all directions, and through any surface, with his HUD symbology, needed to fly the plane and cue weapons through the line of sight imagery, no matter where the pilot turns his head.

Unlike other technologies, it is not an add-on to an existing helmet: it is a brand new, balanced, composite carbon fiber helmet designer with laser measurements of the pilots’ head. Each pilot will have his own HMDS and not only the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters will have one: each F-35 program nation will use the VSI helmet.

Such an advanced technology is still facing some problems: jitter, latency and decreased night-vision acuity; issues that are currently being solved.

The HMDS Gen. II can be integrated on many current combat planes (even some “competitors” of the F-35) and it was evaluated for the Saab Gripen NG.