10 May 2011 Flight instruments and helmet-mounted SWIR imaging systems
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Abstract
Night vision technology has experienced significant advances in the last two decades. Night vision goggles (NVGs) based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) continues to raise the bar for alternative technologies. Resolution, gain, sensitivity have all improved; the image quality through these devices is nothing less than incredible. Panoramic NVGs and enhanced NVGs are examples of recent advances that increase the warfighter capabilities. Even with these advances, alternative night vision devices such as solid-state indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) focal plane arrays are under development for helmet-mounted imaging systems. The InGaAs imaging system offers advantages over the existing NVGs. Two key advantages are; (1) the new system produces digital image data, and (2) the new system is sensitive to energy in the shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectrum. While it is tempting to contrast the performance of these digital systems to the existing NVGs, the advantage of different spectral detection bands leads to the conclusion that the technologies are less competitive and more synergistic. It is likely, by the end of the decade, pilots within a cockpit will use multi-band devices. As such, flight decks will need to be compatible with both NVGs and SWIR imaging systems. Insertion of NVGs in aircraft during the late 70's and early 80's resulted in many "lessons learned" concerning instrument compatibility with NVGs. These "lessons learned" ultimately resulted in specifications such as MIL-L-85762A and MIL-STD-3009. These specifications are now used throughout industry to produce NVG-compatible illuminated instruments and displays for both military and civilian applications. Inserting a SWIR imaging device in a cockpit will require similar consideration. A project evaluating flight deck instrument compatibility with SWIR devices is currently ongoing; aspects of this evaluation are described in this paper. This project is sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
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Tim Robinson, Tim Robinson, John Green, John Green, Mickey Jacobson, Mickey Jacobson, Greg Grabski, Greg Grabski, "Flight instruments and helmet-mounted SWIR imaging systems", Proc. SPIE 8042, Display Technologies and Applications for Defense, Security, and Avionics V; and Enhanced and Synthetic Vision 2011, 804205 (10 May 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.884634; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.884634
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