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IR Imaging Assures Rockets Hit Their Targets

Photonics.com
Nov 2011
ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 30, 2011 — The Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker (LCITS), a weapon prototype developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), successfully hit two high-speed boat targets during a recent test.

ONR researchers produced LCITS, a suite of low-cost technologies that modify existing helicopter-borne rockets into precision-guided weapons. By adding an infrared imaging guidance section to 2.75-in. Hydra-70 rockets, the researchers are providing naval aviators with a new lethal capability.


The Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker turns existing helicopter-borne rockets into precision-guided weapons by adding infrared guidance. (Photo: US Navy)

Unlike laser-guided weapons that require operators to select and monitor a target from launch to detonation, LCITS gives unguided rockets the ability to compute and home in on targets automatically after launch. According to the ONR, targeting data gathered by sensors onboard the launching helicopter are transmitted to the weapon, with mid-course corrections occurring on the fly without further pilot input necessary.

In the test, which took place on Nov. 3, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division engineers used a shore-based launcher to fire two LCITS rockets. One of the weapons was inert; the other had an explosive warhead. Using inertial guidance, the rockets flew to a point where the infrared terminal guidance system took over. Onboard infrared seekers identified their intended targets among five maneuvering small boats. The rockets adjusted trajectories to intercept and eliminate two of the boats.

“It’s a fire-and-forget weapon,” said Ken Heeke, the ONR program officer for the LCITS. “No longer do you have to continue to monitor the target after you’ve fired the weapon. You can move on to the next threat with the assurance that the rocket will hit the target.”

The test was part of the Medusa Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, an effort funded by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Secretary of Defense and South Korea.

For more information, visit: www.onr.navy.mil  


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