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Photonics Design & Solutions:

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2000
Projector Helps Test Installed IR Sensors

Richard Robinson, Santa Barbara Infrared Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Tom Joyner, Comptek-PRB Associates, Inc., Hollywood, Md.

Modern-day military aircraft depend on a diversity of electromagnetic sensors to provide the pilot with unparalleled battle-space awareness and engagement opportunity. Reconnaissance, search and rescue, time vision navigation/evasion, target acquisition, target search and track, missile warning and terminal missile homing all use advanced sensors to provide tactical advantages.

The latest generation of military aircraft relies heavily on multispectral sensors integrated within the flight- and mission-control avionics. Often, mission performance depends on the combined performance of the onboard mission-critical sensors. Therefore, exhaustive sensor testing in this integrated sensor/avionics environment is mandatory.

Verifying the interoperability of the avionics/sensor group is best accomplished with the sensor installed on the aircraft. The highest fidelity of systems performance testing occurs during flight testing. Because providing an in-flight environment that represents actual mission requirements is becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive, the aviation community is developing ground-based capabilities that test sensor subsystems on aircraft (i.e., installed sensor testing). Integrating several tests enables simultaneous testing of an aircraft's sensor suite under simulated operational flight scenarios in a cost-effective virtual/simulated environment.


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