AUVSI: FLIR highlights HMCs and UAS for next-gen TI
FLIR is targeting next-generation micro and mini-UAS as well as helmet-mounted cameras (HMCs) for the latest member in its thermal imaging camera family, the company has told Shephard.
The company is taking the chance to market its Quark 320 longwave thermal imaging camera in order to 'open new markets for unmanned systems and helmet-mounted technology', according to Stan Laband, director OEM business development, Commercial Systems.
Speaking to Shephard at the Unmanned Systems North America exposition in Washington, DC on 16 August, Laband said the system would be available for full rate initial production next year, although a number of systems will be delivered by the end of 2011 for evaluation purposes.
The Quark is a downsized version of FLIR's TAU family of thermal cameras which is currently used on board Puma, Desert Hawk III and T-Hawk UAVs. Laband described Quark as having the same capability as TAU but in a smaller and lighter package.
He added that the company was specifically targeting the Department of Defense's Lethal Miniature Air Munition System (LMAMS) and told Shephard that talks were ongoing with AeroVironment regarding its Switchblade UAV.
'75 per cent of unmanned missions take place at night but there are huge constraints as to how big TI [Thermal Imaging] can be. We are going towards a more expendable market with Quark,' he continued.
Referring to HMCs, Laband admitted that FLIR was not yet supplying any units but said the company was looking into this market 'quite extensively'.
'Size and weight has been a big obstacle. The camera needs to be a single ounce and as small as possible,' he said while describing Quark as a solution for such missions. HMCs have come to prevalence recently following the US Navy Seals raid to kill/capture Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Media reports suggested that the White House had witnessed live HMC feeds during the operation. However, such rumours appeared to be untrue according to industry sources, although it is highly likely that that operators wore HMCs to record the mission for the purposes of an after-action review.
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