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Friday, April 23, 2010

Raytheon to develop SWIR sensor for next-generation photonics mast on Navy attack submarines

Electro-optical engineers at Raytheon Vision Systems in Goleta, Calif., are developing advanced short wave infrared (SWIR) hyperspectral imaging sensor technology for the next-generation photonics mast on U.S. Navy Virginia-class fast attack submarines under terms of a $7.4 million contract announced Tuesday.

Raytheon is doing the work as part of the Affordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast program. Navy researchers say they expect Raytheon to enhance the current state of art in SWIR imaging by proving higher resolution, area coverage, and sensitivity than is available today.

Awarding the contract are officials of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va.

The Affordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast program seeks to eliminate the need for mast rotational assemblies and related components, achieve 360-degree "quick look" search time that is five times faster than is available today, and develop SWIR detection and tracking capability under degraded and restricted conditions, Navy researchers say.

For the next-generation submarine photonics mast, Raytheon will develop a SWIR hyperspectral sensor in the 1-to-1.7-micron band that is able to track hostile targets with intermittent contact, as well as to track friendly targets marked with RF microchips or with chemical or physical markers.

Raytheon experts will develop sensor hardware no larger than 2.5 by 2.5 by 5 inches, and integrate commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hyperspectral processing software and host processor. Pixel size will be no larger than 20 microns in a 1,280-by-512-pixel format, which is able to image at 100 frames per second.

The Raytheon-developed SWIR sensor also will have a field of view of minus 5 to plus 10 degrees, have a spectral resolution of 15 nanometers, and consume less than 20 Watts of power.