Home » Air » L-3 Offers Miniature Infrared Camera

L-3 Offers Miniature Infrared Camera

by Brendan McGarry on April 29, 2013

A division of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. has developed a small infrared camera for drones, sniper rifles and ground vehicles.

L-3 Cincinnati Electronics, part of New York-based L-3, said its NightWarrior 640 is among the smallest, high-resolution, mid-wave infrared cooled cameras. About the size of a baseball, the device weighs less than a pound and offers far more imaging power than its predecessor, officials said.

The company unveiled the camera in a news release on April 29 to coincide with the start of a conference in Baltimore, Md., organized by the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. Officials want to get word out about a new technology that they said is cheaper and more advanced than existing designs, and thus well-suited for an era of declining defense budgets.

“If you need to do more with less, you have to go to these,” said Stephen Schmidt, a business development manager with the company.

L-3 in 2012 had $13.1 billion in revenue, which was flat from the year-ago period, according to its annual report. About $1.7 billion, or 13 percent, of that came from infrared-related products, according to Don Gill, director of business development.

The device succeeds the NightConqueror 640 and takes advantage of new materials in so-called focal plane array technology that don’t need to be cooled as much to deliver high-quality images, the officials said. The result is a miniature camera that can capture thermal images anywhere from three to 15 kilometers, depending on the type of lens used, they said.

The product, which sells for slightly more than $20,000, is designed for a range of weapons with sensitive size, weight and power requirements, including unmanned systems such as the Aerosonde and ScanEagle, sniper rifles, binoculars, even combat vehicles such as blast-resistant trucks and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Gill said.

The company spent about $6 million developing the technology, he said. The process, which normally takes three to five years, took less than a year — possibly the fastest time ever for a unit product, he said.

“We’re pretty excited,” Gill said. “We’ve made a serious investment.”

Despite concern that automatic budget cuts will threaten spending on defense hardware, L-3 expects the market for such components to increase tenfold over the next five years, to about 4,000 units a year in 2017, up from about 400 units a year today, Gill said.

In a downturn, the thinking in the military goes, “you typically upgrade what you got instead of buying new,” he said.

Share |

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

USS ENTERPRISE April 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm
T=) April 29, 2013 at 11:34 pm

kool

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

man, I know what be happening homebiscuit. kool to the k-max

Reply

BlackOwl18E April 30, 2013 at 1:04 am

I want one.

Reply

queen April 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

You is to poor!

Reply

tee April 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I just tried to post and was instantly deleted , Hmmm

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Yeah, just copy your comment, in case that happens.

Reply

tee April 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I was at ISC in Vegas, and there were many venders pushing their IR Imaging Solutions. One was a 320X240 DPI 4 power unit for $3600.00, their 640X480 Unit varied in price from $6,800-9000.00. They were 5" by 3.5" , Let see if this one passes the censors?

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I ain't been to some odd Vegas, but I been to Las Vegas. Like Las to the Veegggas, homey. I also got that 5" by 3.5" by 5828373' tv, plasma style getty up!

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm

TO BAD! I GOTS ME ONE, AND I BE ABOUT TO LAUNCH THAT INTO…….(continue this story)

Reply

Restore Palestine April 30, 2013 at 1:22 am

Really crappy image. But for only 6 million on R&D, can't expect much. Why not commercialize it and sell to amateurs / wannabe defense enthusiasts. Price it under $100.

Reply

William_C1 April 30, 2013 at 5:57 am

Crappy image? I wouldn't be surprised if the image quality is better than the 1st generation thermal sights fielded on the M1 Abrams, M60A3, and M2/M3 Bradley back in the '80s. Being able to fit that sort of thing into a system able to be fitted to a sniper rifle is quite an accomplishment.

Reply

oblatt1 April 30, 2013 at 5:59 am

That has already been done the challenge that L3 has met is how to package it for the military and charge a 900% premium

Reply

Lol April 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

Nice try, Restore Palestine

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

This isn't a toy we are talking about here. Also, who is to say that this is an actual picture.

Reply

queen April 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I agree one hundred percent, but I really like toys!

Reply

juan April 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm

There was never a Palestine. Just a dream dude.

Reply

blight_ April 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Back to Ottoman rule and olive farming!

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Bring back the horses.

Reply

queen April 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

really? bro do you even INFARED

Reply

jumper297 April 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

$100 for a high-res, cryo-cooled IR engine? Even at $20k it's priced well below it's competition at less than half the size. But of course… I live in reality. Oh.. and that false color image is NOT from an L-3 imager… but again, reality.

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Man, you are be wrong fo' that, homey

Reply

wpnexp May 8, 2013 at 6:24 am

OK moron, how far away was the helicopter in the image, before you start talking about resolution. If the image was made from seventy miles it would be an incredible image, but since you have no idea, your just talking out of your ass as usual.

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 10:46 am

Are they compatible with the F-35? (Saves us money).

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Maen nah man, I don't know about no 35-F.

Reply

Lance April 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

All cool but for the price YEOW!!!!

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Development cost.

Reply

Joey_C83 April 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm

the CLU for the javelin was about $150,000

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Javelin, like the carrrrrrrr?

Reply

queen April 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Maybe it can find all the blood rushing to my………..

Reply

mr immature April 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm

penis

Reply

mr immature April 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm

balls

Reply

mr immature April 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm

testacles

Reply

mr immature April 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm

scrotum

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm

You be queening? Eh bro, sing me the world is on fire yesterday featuring chinese cracker (fortune cookie) and 75 cent taken?

Reply

Hoopla April 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Sweet It glows in the dark I want a miniature one for a nightllight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply

Hoopla April 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Because you know I'm afraid of the dark.

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I am afraid of daylight. Is that normal.

Reply

blight_ April 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Waiting for the day an IR/NV camera can be combined with a heads-up display like Google Glass.

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Well, it can't be that difficult. Just put a HUD display in front of the IR/NV lenses, and there you go. Its a little more condensed, but that all there really is to it.

Reply

blight_ April 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm

It's a form factor question (glasses) rather than a technical one. HUD overlays will be along shortly. It won't be long before scopes come with an overlay that uses rangefinders to guess the optimal aimpoint, and infer windspeed from sensors to compensate for drift. There are already systems like it, but they're not compact…yet.

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Its only a matter of time. Where is Apple at?

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Like a Granny Smith?

tee April 30, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Bushnell makes them now

Reply

majr0d April 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

The An-PVS20 has light intensification and thermal tech with the ability to push info for a heads up display into the optic.

Minus the thermal capability the AN-PVS21 has the same capability.

Neither is as small as and wearable as Google Glass.

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Well its, a step forward. But once again, not there yet. Though, I would imagine, it won't be too long.

Reply

blight_ April 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Oh, how the Vietnam War would've been different with good IR cameras.

Well, not really. They'd just hide out in Laos.

Reply

USS ENTERPRISE April 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

The heat out there would've made the entire battle field light up. /sarc

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm

You know, my dear sir, my British folklore people be telling me about their language, English. They beee sayin that blight be meaning rundown and di-la-pid-ated you know be happening?

Reply

CDR Juan Hander May 1, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Gouging. Go for high volume and low(er) margin. No need to recoup your R&D costs on the first 500 units.

Reply

SFP May 23, 2013 at 2:30 am

Really crappy image. But for only 6 million on R&D, can’t expect much. Why not commercialize it and sell to amateurs / wannabe defense enthusiasts. Price it under $100.

Reply

mr immature April 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm

crotch

Reply

mr immature April 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

bootay

Reply

Heyplooha May 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm

tee-hee haha

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: