Air Force considers developing advanced staring infrared search and track for combat aircraft

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 23 July 2014. U.S. Air Force electro-optics researchers are reaching out to industry for ideas and enabling technologies for a next-generation infrared search-and-track (IRST) system to provide advanced passive surveillance, tracking, and target-acquisition capability for military combat aircraft.

Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, have issued a sources-sought notice (RFI-RQKS-2014-0001) for the Infrared Search and Track Technologies program, which seeks to determine the feasibility of developing a next-generation airborne long range offensive IRST.

Air Force researchers are interested in a new kind of IRST that is a staring sensor, rather than a scanned system, based on combinations of innovative optical design, high dynamic range infrared large format focal plane array (FPA) technology, and advanced processing methods.

Infrared search and track capability is important for modern aircraft because it can detect and track enemy aircraft and missiles without giving away its presence. Active search systems like radar, for example, must emit electronic signals that tip off the enemy to its presence; it's like shining a flashlight in a darkened room.

Related: Boeing to install infrared search and track systems on Navy carrier-based jet fighters

This exploratory concept is fundamentally different from current IRST implementations that use scanned and smaller-format infrared focal plane arrays for detection and tracking of enemy aircraft and missiles, researchers explain.

An IRST with a staring rather than a scanning sensor will yield higher performance in a more compact, lighter-weight design with greater installation flexibility, Air Force researchers say.

Advancements in large-format two-dimensional infrared focal plane arrays offer potential advantages in clutter rejection, more frequent updates, longer integration times, and multi-frame detection techniques.

These advantages could yield an advanced IRST for military combat aircraft that supports long-range detection and tracking of targets in cluttered environments with a low false alarm rate over a large field-of-view (FOV), researchers say.

Related: Army eyes mast-mounted infrared sensors able to detect and track humans and aerial drones

U.S. aircraft have had infrared search and track systems since the now-retired Navy F-14 Tomcat carrier-based jet fighters of the 1970s. Today the Lockheed Martin Corp. Missiles and Fire Control segment in Orlando, Fla., builds the IRST21 Sensor System, an IRST that can be installed on the F-16 fighter, F/A-18E/F fighter-bomber, and F-15C jet fighter.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter has the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS), which provides the aircraft with 360-degree IRST capability, missile detection and tracking, launch point detection, weapons support, and navigation in daylight and at night.

The Air Force would like to hear from companies that could provide advanced IRST enabling technologies as part of assessment of industry's ability to provide component and system-level technologies for a next-generation airborne IRST.

Key considerations include wave-band selection; single-band longwave vs. medium-wave infrared sensors; dual-band longwave and medium-wave infrared sensors; sensitivity; dynamic range; frame rate; integration time; resolution; operability; readout design trades; wide-field optical design for large format arrays; opto-mechanical design; stabilization; real-time algorithms and processing; processing techniques; clutter rejection methods; target detection and track algorithms; clear sky; sky clutter; and look down into heavy clutter.

Related: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin to start full-scale development of infrared search sensor for F/A-18E/F combat aircraft

From industry, Air Force researchers would like information about component technical maturity and availability, as well as system implementation considerations. This RFI is for planning purposes only.

Companies interested should email white papers no later than 15 Aug. 2014 to the Air Force's Robert Feldmann at and Jo Ann Sillaman at

Email technical questions to Robert Feldmann at, and email contracting questions to Jo Ann Sillaman at

More information is online at

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

CPU-PPC460EX-VME Processor Board

The CPU-PPC460EX-VME PowerPC processor board is designed for rugged, conduction and convection co...

XFP Transceiver Modules

Quagwire Technologies offers a full catalog of 10GbE Optical XFP Transceivers encompassing 10G pr...

ClipIR Small Clip On Thermal Imager for Fused Night Vision

ClipIR - Small Clip-On Thermal Imager for Fused Night Vision (thermal imaging/ I2) to see in tota...

MicroCAM 2 Thermal Imaging Modules

Thermoteknix’ patented shutterless MicroCAM® 2 thermal imaging module – a featherweight 30g (1oz)...

Scantech Laser Pvt. Ltd.

Scantech Laser designs & manufacture custom built laser machines for all global industries of tod...

VDK3000 - Laser Deposition or Cladding

Metal Laser deposition and cladding solution. ModusCAM Solidworks path planning

VDK4000 - 3D Printing

F.R.E. - Flexible Robotic EnvironmentDirect writing 3D robotic systemModusCAM - Solidworks path p...

TiCAM 750 Handheld Thermal Imaging Binoculars

Handheld thermal imager for military and civilian applications including special forces, search &...


Thermal and Structural FEA, Gaussian ABCD and Physical Optics Code are integrated in LASCAD to an...

SpectraTec X

The SpectraTec X, a Multi-Laser Source is the first all fiber technology for combining up to 4 in...

Related Companies

Beyond Electronics Corp

Beyond Electronics(BEC) provides Rugged COTS board and system level solutions in various small form factor products c...

Federal Electronics Inc

Provides electronic manufacturing services focusing on military/high-end commercial applications. Services include ad...

TE Connectivity

Designs and manufactures a range of connectors, rugged electro-optic components, and assemblies, RF products, wire, c...


Specializes in the design and manufacture of filter connectors, Fibre Channel, Ethernet, IEEE 1394 FireWire, electro-...

LEONI Fiber Optics Inc

Manufactures electro-optic devices for spectroscopy, laser delivery and manipulation, sensing, and process control. P...

Gooch & Housego Plc

World leading expertise across a broad range of optical technologies including acousto-optics, electro-optics, fiber ...

Amphenol Industrial Operations

Provides a range of high reliability connectors and interconnection systems specifically for industrial markets, incl...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

One Component, Snap Cure Epoxy Features High Strength Properties

Suitable for a variety of applications in the electronic, aerospace and OEM industries, Master Bond EP3SP5F...

One Part Epoxy Resists up to 500°F and Meets NASA Low Outgassing Specifications

Master Bond Supreme 12AOHT-LO is a one component epoxy for a variety of bonding and sealing applications in...

Low Viscosity, One Part Cyanoacrylate Is Non-Toxic and Meets ISO 10993-5 Specifications

Master Bond MB250NT is widely used for a variety of applications ranging from repair to high speed producti...

Thermally Conductive, Two Component Epoxy Passes USP Class VI Tests and ISO 10993-5 Specifications

With biocompatibility and cytotoxicity certifications, Master Bond EP21AOLV-2Med is often selected for bond...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s Defense Solutions division applauds Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) o...

Curtiss-Wright’s New Rugged Mobile IP Router Subsystem Features an Integrated Cisco® 5915 ESR Router

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division, a Cisco® Systems Solution T...

VICTORY Shared Processing, Fire Control Computer, and Switch for Ground Vehicles Introduced by Curtiss-Wright

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has introduced a new fully i...

GE Announces First Sub-Credit Card-Sized Multi-Function High Definition (HD) Video Tracker

HUNTSVILLE, AL.— OCTOBER 13, 2014—GE’s Intelligent Platforms business today announced at AUSA (October 13-...


Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

Flying, Sailing or Driving - The Rugged, Embedded Intel-based Server that goes where you need it!Flying Sailing or Driving

Leveraging the power of server-class processors is no longer relegated to the confines of data centers. Through several innovations, Mercury Systems has ruggedized Intel’s server-class chips for deployment. ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2015
Volume 26, Issue 4

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles