Pentagon seeks to build airborne infrared sensor for ballistic missile defense within five years

WASHINGTON, 22 Nov. 2009. Leaders of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Washington are trying to develop an airborne infrared sensor system within the next five years that is capable of tracking and intercepting enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase at or near engine burnout.

Nov 22nd, 2009

Posted by John Keller

WASHINGTON, 22 Nov. 2009. Leaders of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Washington are trying to develop an airborne infrared sensor system within the next five years that is capable of tracking and intercepting enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase at or near engine burnout.


A future airborne infrared sensor could hand targeting data off to ABM weapons like the Airborne Laser, depicted above.

MDA is issuing a request for information to industry, colleges, and government laboratories to determine the potential for developing airborne infrared (ABIR) sensor capability for fire-control-quality tracking of ballistic missiles at the end of the missiles' boost phases to support early intercept. Data could be handed off to anti-missile systems like the Airborne Laser.

This ballistic missile defense request for information -- for which responses are due no later than 4 Dec. -- is to better understand if existing aircraft and infrared sensors could be modified and integrated to create a turreted, pod, or open-cavity airborne infrared systems in less than five years to support ballistic missile defense.

Those interested should submit capability statements that demonstrate core capabilities and expertise in papers no longer than 15 pages within the next two weeks, that address several concerns.

First, MDA officials want to know what is the possibility of having 15 manned and unmanned aircraft able to perform the airborne infrared missile defense mission by 2015.

Next, they want to understand the challenges of mounting a turreted electro-optical/infrared sensor pod as long as 22 inches and as heavy as 260 pounds to a manned or unmanned aircraft.

MDA officials also are interested in an infrared sensor pod for mounting to the tops of aircraft that is three feet in diameter, eight feet long, and weighs 1,100 pounds. Sensor pods must not interfere with satellite communications antennas.

For infrared sensors suggested, MDA officials want to know wavebands, clear apertures, fields of view, noise equivalent irradiance, and frame rates, pointing errors, whether inertial measurement gyros are used, angular stabilization of the sensor's boresight, slew endurance, and settle time.

Concerning sensor processing, MDA officials want to know if suggested sensors have auto trackers able to track targets simultaneously against a uniform background. MDA officials also want to know how suggested sensors behave at altitudes above 35,000 feet.

Send response papers by post to Missile Defense Agency (MDA/DE) Attn: Ms. K. Anderson, 7100 Defense Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-7100, and Missile Defense Agency (MDA/DACV) Attn: Ms. Karen Beveridge 7100 Defense Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-7100.

For questions, contact Contracting Officer Elizabeth Moulder by phone at 256-450-1014, or by e-mail at Elizabeth.moulder@mda.mil. More information on this request for information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=cef4ac037dd3d23888be0bc444132237&tab=core&_cview=0.

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