The Advantages of SWIR for Daytime Detection in C-UAS
In the rapidly evolving field of counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS), the choice of optics plays a crucial role in ensuring effective detection and response. Shortwave imaging systems offer several advantages over visible and midwave imaging systems for daytime range detection, making them a critical inclusion in any multi-sensor C-UAS payload. In this discussion, we will explore why shortwave zoom lenses are exceptionally well-suited for countering the emerging threats posed by unmanned aerial systems and why G&H StingRay's FireAnt series is uniquely positioned to address that need in particular.
General Advantages of SWIR for Daytime Range Detection and Tracking:
Atmospheric Transparency: Shortwave infrared (SWIR) light experiences less atmospheric absorption and scattering compared to both visible and midwave infrared (MWIR) light during the day. This means that SWIR imaging systems can see through atmospheric disturbances, such as haze, dust, and fog, more effectively. This improved visibility is crucial for long-range detection during daylight hours.
Solar Glint and Background Radiation: SWIR sensors are less susceptible to solar glint, the reflection of sunlight off objects, compared to MWIR sensors. MWIR sensors can be overwhelmed by the bright background radiation from the sun, which can limit their effectiveness during the daytime. SWIR sensors, on the other hand, can operate more effectively in the presence of strong sunlight, allowing for better range detection.
Reduced Heat Signature: Unlike MWIR systems, SWIR imaging systems do not detect thermal radiation. This means that they are less affected by variations in temperature and do not suffer from the same challenges as MWIR systems when it comes to distinguishing between objects with similar thermal profiles. In daytime conditions, this can lead to improved accuracy in range detection.
Improved Target Discrimination: SWIR imaging systems often provide better target discrimination and identification due to their ability to detect variations in material properties. This can be especially important during daytime operations when identifying specific objects or targets is critical.
That's a pretty compelling argument for the incorporation of SWIR in C-UAS generally, but not all SWIR imaging systems are created equal and G&H StingRay has long been the industry's leader in this space. That's why we confidently announce the newest addition to the FireAnt series, our ruggedized F/6 80-800mm zoom lens. Designed for direct compatibility with 5µm and 10µm SXGA image formats, the 80-800mm FireAnt is a testament to a performance-first design methodology that incorporates SWIR specific materials and anti-reflection coatings, an approach yielding the best resolution and transmission available in a COTS SWIR imaging system.
Many commercially available visible and shortwave zooms allow for a reduction in aperture as you move from the wide field to narrow field positions, whereas every FireAnt lens offers a constant aperture through its respective zoom range, a feature that lends itself directly to C-UAS applications:
Advantages of a Constant Aperture for C-UAS:
Target acquisition and tracking: It's crucial to quickly acquire and track threats. A zoom lens with a constant aperture allows for seamless zooming without changes in exposure, which aids in maintaining a clear and consistent view of the target. This is particularly important in dynamic situations where rapid adjustments are necessary.
Depth of field control: The ability to control depth of field can help isolate and focus on specific subjects or areas of interest, enhance object recognition, or aid in target identification. A constant aperture zoom lens allows for consistent depth of field control throughout the zoom range, ensuring clear and sharp focus regardless of the focal length used.
Consistent power density: A constant aperture zoom lens helps maintain a consistent power density when imaging a laser beam throughout the zoom range. This is important for shortwave targeting applications where maintaining a specific power density is crucial for effective operation. Consistency in power density ensures consistent performance and reliable results across different zoom levels.
G&H | StingRay - Industry Leading High-Performance SWIR:
In conclusion, as the field of counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) continues to evolve, the choice of optics becomes paramount for effective detection and response. Shortwave imaging systems, particularly SWIR zoom lenses, offer distinct advantages over visible and midwave systems, especially during daytime range detection. They excel in atmospheric transparency, are less susceptible to solar glint and background radiation, exhibit a reduced heat signature, and provide superior target discrimination. Among SWIR zoom lenses, G&H StingRay's FireAnt series stands out as an industry leader. The latest addition, the ruggedized F/6 80-800mm zoom lens, is designed for optimal performance, incorporating SWIR-specific materials and anti-reflection coatings. Its constant aperture feature enhances target acquisition, depth of field control, and power density consistency, making it an ideal choice for C-UAS applications. G&H StingRay's commitment to innovation continues to address the evolving challenges posed by unmanned aerial systems, ensuring reliable and effective solutions in the fight against emerging threats.