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Proceedings Paper

Dual-use military/commercial security applications for low-cost thermal imagers
Author(s): Glenn A. Herosian
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Paper Abstract

SAF Security Police are seeking to extend the application of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) thermal imaging systems to the assessment and detection ofthreats to DoD personnel and resources. Cost and performance benefits are the prime motivaters to the military user during a period in which advanced imaging technology is being relied upon to offset the drawdown of security forces. Low-cost thermal imagers characterized by thermo-electrically cooled or stabilized room temperature detector arrays are offering a cost competitive alternative to traditional visible light surveillance cameras. Air Force Material Command has been testing and fielding two COTS thermal imagers within the last two years and is now supporting wider DoD application and procurement ofthis new class ofthermal imagers. Recently, the Security Systems Product Group at Hanscom, AFB conducted evaluations, procurement, and field operations ofboth the Hughes AN/PAS-20 hand held thermal imager and the Texas Instruments "Nightsight" Thermal Viewer. The Security Police identified the requirement for highly portable thermal imagers as part ofthe rapidreaction Tactical Automated Security System (TASS). The TASS mission is geared to peacekeeping and wartime protection of personnel, facilities and aircraft worldwide. This nimble, flexible capability represents the current state of the art in providing force protection during worldwide projection of military forces. The TASS will typically be shipped and installed within 48 hours to potential trouble spots such as Somalia, Bosnia or South West Asia. The versatility of a hand held imager with multiple power sources enables the operator to immediately visually detect intruders or to monitor detection sensors installed as a temporary or semi-permanent security perimeter. The Hughes AN/PAS-20 Hand Held Thermal Imager was tested and is being procured to meet this mission.. Previous field testing of a variety of remotely controlled thermal imagers occurred in 1993 at Vandenberg AFB, CA. That field testing, although only representative ofthe broad selection ofthermal imaging cameras, did provide an operational baseline for the siting of imagers relative to their performance under degraded weather conditions. In addition, the Air Force Security Police user The Texas Instruments "Nightsight" has been mounted on a commercial and military security vehicle, an elevating tripod, a roof-top, a light pole or fixed post to provide a panoramic, remotely-controllable thermal imager for mounted response teams, short range detection, perimeter alarm monitoring, and electronic image-based detection. Both of these systems are considered "low-cost", medium performance thermal imagers when compared with higher performance, dual-FOV thermal imagers costing more than $35,000 each. Generally, a minimum imaging system performance expectation of .10 C. Minimum Resolvable Temperature Difference (MIRTD) will enable the operator to pick out threats or targets out of backgrounds at ranges typical of the TASS deployment scenarios. The Air Force's current use ofthese devices matches commercial security requirements for high value assets such as aircraft, power plants, manufacturing facilities, and transportation equipment as well as anti-terrorism protection for VIP's and the general public. Furthermore, the future DoD application of these imagers to automated detection and smart sensor suites drives the near term integration and acquisition of this class of imager. A major concern to the military user is determining the optimal test methods able to be used to qualify commercial systems for military use without inflating the cost of the system. Often the military acquisition planner must present trade-off analyses to the military user enabling a lower cost, dual use approach to military acquisition. The critical compromises are often linked to actual versus perceived threat and mission. This paper describes recent testing and operational experience ofthe Texas Instruments Nightsight vehicle mounted thermal imager and the Hughes ANIPAS-20 hand held thermal imager. In addition, we review some ofthe tactical and cost factors which can be used by commercial physical security operators when selecting a suitable security imaging system.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 February 1997
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 2935, Surveillance and Assessment Technologies for Law Enforcement, (14 February 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.266797
Show Author Affiliations
Glenn A. Herosian, System Resources Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2935:
Surveillance and Assessment Technologies for Law Enforcement
A. Trent DePersia; Suzan Yeager; Steve M. Ortiz, Editor(s)

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