Lockheed Martin has completed a successful test of its first 360-degree infrared sensor turret aboard its Desert Hawk III unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
The hand-launched Desert Hawk III is designed to operate in extreme temperatures and high altitudes and has provided the British Army with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the company, the addition of the infrared sensor will allow troops to obtain greater target location accuracy and improved image stability.
The infrared sensor will be used alongside an upgraded 360-degree colour electro optic (E/O) sensor, providing 10 times continuous zoom capability and aiding in contact identification.
John Nikolai, director of electronic products and logistics at Lockheed Martin’s Tactical Systems business in Eagan, said: ‘To assist the warfighter, we have miniaturised the infrared payload, so it fits into a turret weighing less than two pounds.
‘The E/O camera has been upgraded as well, for improved target identification. With the introduction of these sensor capabilities, users will experience vastly improved night-time situational awareness.’
The Desert Hawk III consists of a lightweight, hand-launched air vehicle with snap-on Plug and Playloads, a portable ground station and a remote video terminal. The UAS’ payload capability means that sensors can be changed in less than one minute to meet rapidly changing mission requirements.
Currently, the Desert Hawk III provides five modular capability payloads including a 360-degree turret with a mix of E/O and/or black and white low-light imagers, an infrared stabilised imager in a roll axis out to 90o, a signals intelligence sensor, the new 360-degree infrared sensor and the upgraded 360-degree E/O imager.