Rocket Missile Tracking

Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) Tracking of Rocket and Missile Launches, Flight Paths and Intercepts

Visible and thermal tracking of rockets and missiles benefit from the addition of short wave infrared (SWIR) cameras. Visible cameras suffer from atmospheric distortion and haze over long distances, while imaging with the short-wave infrared cuts through the interferences. Visible cameras only see the hottest portions of the rocket plume and have difficulty following missiles over long distances or bright ambient day lighting. The hot gases, however, are much more visible to SWIR and thermal cameras (also known as mid- and long-wave infrared cameras).

The thermal cameras easily see the thermal plume, but they lack the ability to see the hard body or debris because they are aren't equally as hot. Nor can they "see" with the resolution of SWIR cameras. The InGaAs based SWIR cameras share the visible cameras ability to use glass based optics, requiring less-expensive lens solutions. SWIR cameras also operate with lower power and size than thermal cameras, allowing for more platform flexibility. Awaiting similar test confirmation is our new DR1 High Dynamic Range Control Algorithm, a hardware solution that will increase the ability of InGaAs cameras to extract additional imaging information from such high contrast scenes.

In the image below, on the left, a missile is launched into the air as a SWIR camera tracks its path. Hot debris is shown coming off of the plume. On the right, the descending missile is still visible to a SWIR camera even from many miles away. Flying debris can still be detected at this distance.

Sensors Unlimited offers video and high-frame rate InGaAs cameras with 320x256 or 640x512 formats that are ideal for integration on missile tracker systems or perimeter defense scanning for shoulder fired rockets.

Founded in 1991 as an advanced research and development company, Sensors Unlimited quickly grew into the world leader in and innovator of Indium Gallium Arsenide semiconductor technology. Tracking missile and rockets is only one of many applications for our short wave infrared technology; SUI products are also used for night vision, laser designation, and the tracking of lasers.

Many SWIR camera capabilities are considered sensitive. If you would like to learn more about SWIR capabilities for the military, you can register at a special web site, You must be a US Government employee or a USG contractor and be a US Citizen to access this site.