Officials of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, N.J., announced plans Friday to negotiate with L-3 Wescam for as many as 62 MX-20HD EO/IR sensor pods for U.S. Navy P-8A, and as many as eight MX-20HDs for the Royal Australian Air Force.
The upcoming contract, which has yet to be negotiated, also will include sensor pods and digital master control units. The Wescam MX-20HD is a digital high-definition electro-optical sensor for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability aboard high-altitude long-range maritime patrol aircraft and persistent surveillance missions.
The P-8 is a militarized version of the Boeing 737 single-aisle jetliner hardened for long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions. The P-8 is scheduled to replace the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol turboprop aircraft.
The pod-mounted Wescam MX-20HD sensor suite is suitable for fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and aerostats, company officials say.
It has multi-sensor imaging and lasing payload options, and can support as many as seven sensors simultaneously for HD imaging from visible-light and infrared cameras. It also has three laser illuminator options.
The system offers real-time image enhance for daytime, nighttime, and infrared operations, and its inertial sensors work together to create accurate target location, automatic alignment to the aircraft, and automatic image focus. The sensor pod offers five-axis gimbal stabilization with an internal inertial measurement unit.
Navy officials announced plans in June to purchase the Wescam MX-20HD sensor suite on a sole-source basis from L-3 Wescam. The company is the only supplier of the MX-20HD EO/IR system for use in the P-8A, and is the only source that is able to supply a system capable of meeting the P-8A requirements, Navy officials say.