UTC Aerospace Systems' Sensors Unlimited division has developed the world's highest resolution indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) Near Infrared/Shortwave Infrared (NIR/SWIR) imaging sensor. Built under a contract agreement with U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), the new sensor includes a 16 megapixel photo-detector array on a 5 micron pitch, providing roughly 16 times more detail than the company's existing high definition sensor, which has a resolution of 1.3 megapixels.
The first-of-its-kind sensor is hybridized to a matching silicon CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) read-out integrated circuit and packaged into a hermetically sealed focal plane array. Imaging electronics were also designed and developed to integrate the focal plane array into a complete imaging camera.
Per ONR's requirement, the sensor is compatible with the RQ-21A payload SWAP (Size, Weight and Power) envelope and offers the following capabilities:
- High coverage rate spectral sensing in the SWIR band
- Ability to continuously monitor a wide area activity at a resolution (temporal and spatial) consistent with dismount detection/tracking
- High fidelity inspection sensing in both of the above collection modes
- Autonomous identification of objects, behaviors and materials of interest with accuracy rates high enough to enable a useful real-time dissemination of information directly to warfighters
UTC Aerospace Systems developed the sensor for the U.S. Navy's Spectral and Reconnaissance Imagery for Tactical Exploitation (SPRITE) program and has delivered four prototypes to the service as part of a 3-year, $9.7 million award.