L-3 Subsidiary Claims Breakthrough in Small IR Cameras

 - May 3, 2013, 11:05 AM
The new L-3 Cincinnati Electronics NightWarrior 640 camera captured this infrared image. (Photo: L-3 Cincinnati Electronics)

L-3 Cincinnati Electronics says that its new NightWarrior 640 mid-wave infrared imaging system is a major technical advance. Designed for carriage by unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and other small applications, the camera is five times smaller and lighter than previous MWIR systems, and draws four times less power, according to the maker.

“Our engineers have succeeded in producing an ultra-compact imaging system that represents a giant leap forward in infrared capability at an affordable price,” claims Russ Walker, president of L-3 Cincinnati Electronics. It measures 17.5 cubic inches in volume, weighs one pound and consumes less than 6 watts of power. The company says that these characteristics permit cooling of the sensor, which was not previously possible in applications constrained by size, weight and power, resulting in a dramatic increase in image quality. The company’s own new cryogenic micro-cooler performs this function; it is smaller than a D battery and generates negligible noise, making it ideal for the most tactical of operational environments.

The sensor has a high operating-temperature 15-micron pixel pitch, 640 by 512 focal plane array. Onboard image-enhancement processing delivers what the maker describes as exceptional image quality in all light levels, and features include auto-focus, automatic gain control and non-uniformity correction.

The NightWarrior camera can easily be integrated into a variety of applications, including small electro-optical payloads, thermal weapon sights, handheld systems, remote weapon stations and tactical UAV sensor systems, according to L-3 Cincinnati Electronics.