To The Editor:
I was astonished to read in your January edition at page 16 that you seem to consider the company FLIR Systems Inc. as the only player in the area of active television since they are developing a laser illuminating system in the near infrared to be able to "read license plates, ship registration or aircraft tail number ... under totally cloudy skies, and (that) works better in fog or snow than passive means."
Unless he wanted to present only FSI activities, it appears that your contributing editor has overlooked what has been done in the recent past inside and outside the U.S. in the domain of active imagery. In the article "Military laser technology..." on page 3, you give the impression that FLIR Systems Inc. is an innovator in the technology of active imaging while Bendix Avelex (AlliedSignal) has a long time ago demonstrated the principle using an alexandrite laser. More recently, Ball Aerospace has designed a compact active imager based on laser diodes, and here, just a little bit up north in Canada, we have demonstrated the performance of such a system (ALBEDOS) in real scenarios with search and rescue pilots during a trial in October 1995.
The results of these tests showed a significant improvement over the passive sensors and the Canadian government is actually funding a new initiative (ELVISS) to couple an active system with a thermal infrared camera. Furthermore, FLIR System came in September 1996 to the Defence Research Establishment Valcartier (DREV) in Quebec to attend a seminar on the capabilities of such a combined system.
For your information, here a list of the major publications by or with DREV on the subject:
"A Range-Gated Active Imaging System for Search and Rescue, and Surveillance Operations," D. Bonnier and V. Larochelle, SPIE Vol. 2744: Infrared Technology and Applications XXII, Orlando, April 1996.
"Active Gated TV for Search and Rescue Operations," Capt. G. Ralph, D. Bonnier and V. Larochelle, International Defence Review, Vol. 5, May 1996.
"ALBEDOS: An Active Imaging System for Search and Rescue and Surveillance Operations," D. Bonnier, V. Larochelle, P. Mammoliti, B. Mackean and A. Jenkins, Proceedings of the NATO/IRIS Active Systems Specialty Group Meeting, Monterey, May 1995.
"ALBEDOS: An Airborne Laser Based Enhanced Detection and Observation System for Coast Guard and Maritime Patrol Applications," A. Jenkins, M. Vandenberg, S. Tritchew, D. Bonnier and V. Larochelle, Proceedings of the SPIE Night Operations Symposium XII, San Francisco, October 1995.
Active Surveillance Group Leader
Defence Research Establishment Valcartier