Military thermal imaging systems are used to provide situational awareness for a wide range of military, defense and security applications. These include weapons targeting, missile launch detection, base perimeter security, counter-UAS (unmanned aerial systems), coastal patrol and border control.
Thermal Imaging Equipment
Military thermal imaging equipment is used to detect objects and targets by detecting infrared (IR) radiation. Radiation is emitted by all objects in proportion to temperature, thermal imaging sensors can pick up this radiation, ascertain its level and map this to an image or video with visible colors. Military thermal imaging equipment may be mounted on a variety of platforms, including fixed sites, vehicles, and aircraft.
Thermal imaging is highly useful for detecting people, vehicles, aircraft, weapons and other objects of tactical interest, particularly at night or in degraded vision conditions such as dust, smoke and fog.
Thermal imaging cameras may be combined with visible cameras to create EO/IR payloads and gimbals for vehicles and manned or unmanned aircraft, enabling operations both during the day and at night.
Thermal cameras and sensors may be designed to detect one or more of long-wave (LWIR), medium-wave (MWIR) and short-wave (SWIR) infrared, depending on the detection and range requirements. They may also be cooled or uncooled – cooled systems output higher quality imagery and are more sensitive, but at the expense of being bulkier and consuming more power.
Rugged Thermal Imaging Sensors
Infantry personnel may use thermal imaging sensors on weapons sights and night vision equipment, and these sensors will typically be battery-powered, lightweight and compact. Many thermal imaging cameras and sensors will have to be engineered with rugged protection to survive in extreme battlefield environments, with resistance to harsh conditions such as extremes of temperature, shock and vibration, rain, dust and sand.