There is an increasingly important requirement for day and night, wide field of view imaging and tracking for both
imaging and sensing applications. Applications include military, security and remote sensing. We describe the
development of a proof of concept demonstrator of an adaptive coded-aperture imager operating in the mid-wave infrared
to address these requirements. This consists of a coded-aperture mask, a set of optics and a 4k x 4k focal plane array
(FPA). This system can produce images with a resolution better than that achieved by the detector pixel itself (i.e. superresolution)
by combining multiple frames of data recorded with different coded-aperture mask patterns. This superresolution
capability has been demonstrated both in the laboratory and in imaging of real-world scenes, the highest
resolution achieved being ½ the FPA pixel pitch. The resolution for this configuration is currently limited by vibration
and theoretically ¼ pixel pitch should be possible. Comparisons have been made between conventional and ACAI
solutions to these requirements and show significant advantages in size, weight and cost for the ACAI approach.
An earlier paper  discussed the merits of adaptive coded apertures for use as lensless imaging systems in the thermal
infrared and visible. It was shown how diffractive (rather than the more conventional geometric) coding could be used,
and that 2D intensity measurements from multiple mask patterns could be combined and decoded to yield enhanced
imagery. Initial experimental results in the visible band were presented. Unfortunately, radiosity calculations, also
presented in that paper, indicated that the signal to noise performance of systems using this approach was likely to be
compromised, especially in the infrared.
This paper will discuss how such limitations can be overcome, and some of the tradeoffs involved. Experimental results
showing tracking and imaging performance of these modified, diffractive, adaptive coded aperture systems in the visible
and infrared will be presented. The subpixel imaging and tracking performance is compared to that of conventional
imaging systems and shown to be superior. System size, weight and cost calculations indicate that the coded aperture
approach, employing novel photonic MOEMS micro-shutter architectures, has significant merits for a given level of
performance in the MWIR when compared to more conventional imaging approaches.
The 3rd Generation Goodrich DB-110 system provides users with a three (3) field-of-view high performance Airborne
Reconnaissance capability that incorporates a dual-band day and nighttime imaging sensor, a real time recording and a
real time data transmission capability to support long range, medium range, and short range standoff and over-flight
mission scenarios, all within a single pod. Goodrich developed their 3rd Generation Airborne Reconnaissance Pod for
operation on a range of aircraft types including F-16, F-15, F-18, Euro-fighter and older aircraft such as the F-4, F-111,
Mirage and Tornado. This system upgrades the existing, operationally proven, 2nd generation DB-110 design with
enhancements in sensor resolution, flight envelope and other performance improvements. Goodrich recently flight tested
their 3rd Generation Reconnaissance System on a Block 52 F-16 aircraft with first flight success and excellent results.
This paper presents key highlights of the system and presents imaging results from flight test.
SMARTPOD has been developed as the trials and evaluation test-bed for future United Kingdom ISR requirements. This paper reviews the background to the requirement for such a capability, the details of its implementation and the current plans for its use to support risk reduction and requirements formulation activities for future UK ISR applications. It identifies the key design concepts and the flexibility provided to support multiple trials activities with minimal integration and aircraft availability charges.
The Royal Air Force is currently in the process of a major upgrade to its airborne reconnaissance capabilities. This is the result of a transition from primarily camera based reconnaissance systems to a near real time day/night, all weather, reconnaissance capability based on a mix of visible and IR electro-optic sensors and synthetic aperture and moving target indication radar sensors. This paper reviews the principal upgrade programs and identifies the operational aims, system requirements and resultant capabilities of each system.
The operational limitations exposed during the Gulf War have led to the formulation of a requirement for anew generation of tactical reconnaissance pod for the Royal Air Force Tornado aircraft. The pod will contain a high resolution Electro-Optical sensor capable of day and night-time operations, digital recording of the imagery for airborne replay and ground exploitation, and a data-link for real time/near real time imagery transmission. The program requirement includes a deployable ground exploitation system to provide a comprehensive independent capability. The interoperability of the air and ground segments with other systems is addressed through NATO standardization agreements. This system will provide the Tornado with a highly flexible stand-off imaging system for day/night operations from a range of altitudes.