Cameras are used to capture imagery and video for a variety of military and defense applications, including targeting, situational awareness, and long-range surveillance.
Visible & Infrared
Military and tactical cameras may be visible or infrared. Visible light cameras are used for operations during the day, whereas infrared cameras are used for thermal imaging for night-time and low-light operations and for seeing through fog, haze and smoke. Thermal imaging cameras may detect long-wave (LWIR), medium-wave (MWIR) or short-wave (SWIR) infrared radiation.
Military cameras may be mounted on a wide variety of military vehicles, including armored vehicles, aircraft and helicopters, and UAVs. They may provide tank crews with real-time 360-degree awareness of the environment surrounding the vehicle, aid in aiming weapons systems, and provide early warning of potential threats or targets of interest.
Long Range Cameras
Airborne cameras for aerial reconnaissance are designed to deliver clear aerial images over long distances. They may be affixed to a manned or unmanned aircraft via a pod or gimbal, which may provide imaging stabilization that mitigates the effects of aircraft movement and vibration. Long range surveillance camera payloads known as EO/IR combine electro-optical and infrared cameras to create a solution that provides imaging capabilities during the day and at night.
Tactical & Rangefinder Cameras
Cameras used by infantry personnel and dismounted troops may be mounted on tactical vests, rifles or helmets. Tactical helmet-worn cameras and other portable imaging solutions may be linked to cellular or radio communications systems to stream live video to commanders and other units in the field. Cameras may also be equipped with a laser rangefinder that calculates the distance to a target.
Rugged and milspec cameras may need to be engineered to withstand a wide variety of challenging conditions. These include extended temperature ranges, moisture and rain, dust and sand, shock and vibration, and electromagnetic interference. They may need to meet or exceed specifications laid out in military standards such as MIL-STD-810 and MIL-STD-150A.