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Near-conformal window assembly for airborne payloads: improved time on-station and optical performance
Author(s): Keith M. Hinrichs; Christopher D. Roll; Joel D. Berkson; Thomas Sebastian
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Paper Abstract

Conventional windows for airborne payloads are often discontinuous with the aircraft or pod skin. A protruding structure or hollow cavity increases aerodynamic drag, which consumes more fuel and thus reduces the amount of time available on-station. These geometries give rise to turbulent aero-optical effects, which can reduce the payload’s optical performance because it has to see through turbulence. This paper describes a multi-paned or segmented window concept that matches the local topology of the aircraft pod or skin. This approach is suitable for optical payloads having multiple fixed fields-of-view such as staring infrared search and track systems, but not scanning systems. This approach for creating a near-conformal window assembly should be particularly useful for rapid prototyping of windows for airborne optical payloads, providing a nearer-term alternative to monolithic windows that are ground and polished into complex shapes. In this paper, a 14-inch diameter pod faring with three window segments was chosen as a point design for a notional airborne optical payload. Fused silica planar windowpanes were fabricated with matching, mating mitered edges. The panes were chemically bonded directly to each other with a sodium-silicate solution. The bonding process and fixturing are described. The resulting glass bond is strong and minimizes the non-useable seam between panes. This approach increases the clear aperture of each pane compared with windowpanes bonded into individual mechanical bezels. Interferometric measurements of the prototype show no degradation in transmitted wavefront error after silicate bonding.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 November 2019
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 11175, Optifab 2019, 1117512 (15 November 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2537076
Show Author Affiliations
Keith M. Hinrichs, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Christopher D. Roll, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Joel D. Berkson, Wyant College of Optical Sciences (United States)
Thomas Sebastian, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11175:
Optifab 2019
Blair L. Unger; Jessica DeGroote Nelson, Editor(s)

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