Xsight, the Israeli manufacturer of foreign objects detection (FOD) systems, sees air force customers as a big potential market in the coming years.
The company's FODetect system is already operational at Boston's Logan airport in the USA, Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport in Thailand, Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, and Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport in Israel.
Xsight chief executive Alon Nitzan says indications show that 30% of sales in the coming years will be made to air force customers. "The FOD problem is very acute in a base that operates fighter aircraft, many with one engine," he says. "The detection of objects on the runway is part of the base's operational readiness."
Nitzan declines to identify the air forces that have shown interest in the system, but says a first contract is expected next year.
The FODetect system consists of surface detection units on the edge-light bases along the runway and other areas. Each unit uses a 77GHz millimetre-wave radar in combination with a camera and zoom function. Runway sections are scanned in fewer than 30sec, with a detection resolution down to the size of an aircraft nut or rivet.
Nitzan says the double sensor design allows for positive detection and a precise location of the object. "The camera serves as the main sensor, while the radar unit serves as an additional sensor, mainly for poor visibility conditions," he adds.
Using a large number of sensor units provides redundancy, plus the option to scan adjacent zones to give a different viewing angle for identification purposes. Each is connected to a main control centre using the existing power line communication system, or via a fibre-optic network.
Nitzan says Xsight has also received interest from navies operating aircraft carriers, but declines to comment further.