A highly classified passive light sensing system that analyses wavelengths in the visible and invisible spectrum can detect gases from hidden military vehicles, says El Op, a division of Israeli defence electronics company Elbit Systems.

To undergo airborne tests in 18 months time, the "hyperspectral" payload would be carried by manned or unmanned aircraft to complement existing on-board electro-optic systems. It is able to detect the fumes by analysing light passing through them.

These gases are given off by a vehicle, either from the fuel tank or from the exhaust when an engine is running. The system compares the characteristics of the light it detects with a known database of wavelengths in the visible and invisible spectrum that are reflected by gases.

Haim Rousso, El Op general manager, says the alternative, to find hidden vehicles with better resolution optical payloads, is not an easier option. "The aperture and focal length [of an optic system] would [have to] be increased and this is a limiting factor. As the focal length gets bigger, the optics become larger, [too large for an aircraft's payload limits] becoming useless for operational use," he says.

To overcome this limitation, to detect vehicles that may be below camouflage, the Israeli company will offer a combined system of electro-optics and hyperspectral analysis that, its makers claim, will work under almost all weather conditions.

Source: Flight International