Airborne thermal infrared (IR) imaging technology is gaining wide acceptance as a large area survey technique for the detection and mapping of environmental contamination. A unique and very specialized subset of this application centers on the environmental issues related to the presence and dangers of military-originated unexploded ordnance (UXO). In fact, the UXO problem has emerged as one of the Department of Defense's most pressing environmental concerns. To help manage the issues associated with UXO contamination the subject can be further broken down into two integrally related areas. The first is the global humanitarian problem surrounding the approximately 100 million land mines left in place following military actions around the world, a problem which translates into thousands of civilian casualties annually. The second is the estimated 27 million acres in the United States contaminated with surface and buried munitions as a direct result of formerly used defense site (FUDS) activities rendering those lands unavailable for public or commercial use conversion. Through the application of various airborne IR imaging strategies at several of these FUDS locations, an airborne suite of technologies, and the process to acquire and analyze the resultant data, have evolved as a field ready system for the detection and mapping of this UXO material. The IR based hardware and application strategy now deployed have shown significant promise as a contributing technology in the long term solution for the non-tactical detection, identification, and mapping of buried and surface munitions around the world. This paper will explore the difficulties encountered with this application and will discuss results from a technology demonstration program conducted at the Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah.
Gary B. Howard,
"Application of airborne thermal infrared imaging for the detection of unexploded ordnance", Proc. SPIE 4360, Thermosense XXIII, (23 March 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.420986; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.420986