In recent years, operations executed by naval forces have taken place at many different locations. At present, operations against international terrorism and asymmetric warfare in coastal environments are of major concern. In these scenarios, the threat caused by pirates on-board of small surface targets, such as jetskis and fast inshore attack crafts, is increasing. In the littoral environment, the understanding of its complexity and the efficient use of the limited reaction time, are essential for successful operations. Present-day electro-optical sensor suites, also incorporating Infrared Search and Track systems, can be used for varying tasks as detection, classification and identification. By means of passive electro-optical systems, infrared and visible light sensors, improved situational awareness can be achieved. For long range capability, elevated sensor masts and flying platforms are ideally suited for the surveillance task and improve situational awareness. A primary issue is how to incorporate new electro-optical technology and signal processing into the new sensor concepts, to improve system performance. It is essential to derive accurate information from the high spatial-resolution imagery created by the EO sensors. As electro-optical sensors do not have all-weather capability, the performance degradation in adverse scenarios must be understood, in order to support the operational use of adaptive sensor management techniques. In this paper we discuss the approach taken at TNO in the design and assessment of system concepts for future IRST development. An overview of our maritime programme in future IRST and EO system concepts including signal processing is presented.