Missile warning sensor undergoes testing

Raytheon Co. has finished testing an infrared missile warning sensor that will serve as a central component of the Air Force’s Third Generation Infrared Surveillance system.

The so-called staring sensor takes advantage of Raytheon’s large-format, focal-plane arrays and is designed to detect and track dimmer objects than current sensors can, company officials said March 2. A key feature is its ability to monitor an entire hemisphere from a single telescope, they said.

The Waltham, Mass., contractor conducted the tests at its space manufacturing facility in El Segundo, Calif. The tests addressed vibration, electromagnetic interference and thermal vacuum conditions to confirm that the sensor would perform as required.

Sensors now in use for missile detection and warning rely on scanning mechanisms to perform Earth surveillance, but Raytheon’s sensor capitalizes on recent advances in focal plane technology to directly view the desired area without scanning, the officials said.

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center sponsors the Third Generation Infrared Surveillance system, and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate in Albuquerque, N.M., manages the program.

The program seeks to demonstrate that wide-field-of-view sensors can maintain persistent Earth surveillance for missile warning in a relatively small, low-risk and easily assembled package.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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