more than 200 Navy ships to spot mines and anti-ship
cruise missiles during the Gulf War.
In 1998, the NMMS was replaced by the Thermal
Imaging Sensor System (TISS), built by McDonnell
Douglas (now Boeing). The TISS was optimized for
shipboard use and featured a television camera and
laser rangefinder. It was designed to detect and track
mines, low-flying aircraft, swimmers, small boats and
cruise missiles. The TISS was in fleet use until 1995.
EO/IR systems now are operational on every class of
U.S. Navy surface warship, amphibious warfare ship,
command ship and aircraft carrier.
FLIR Systems is one of the major producers on maritime EO/IR systems for the Navy.
“We’ve been in the maritime-specific EO/IR business for 25-plus years now, so the systems have
evolved over time,” said Gene Ager, director of Navy
programs at FLIR. “We’ve delivered probably in excess
of a thousand specific maritime EO/IR systems worldwide. Of those, probably at least 800 of them have
gone to the U.S. government — U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast
Guard and U.S. SOCOM [Special Operations Com-mand] or Naval Special Warfare.
“Our first maritime-specific systems were sold to
the Danish Navy back in 1993. For U.S. Navy purposes, the first significant quantity, the first contract that
we started delivering systems to the Navy was in 1999,
and that was the MarFLIR,” he said.
“As the evolution progressed, we
went on through systems both large
and small, starting out on the 9-inch
turret size with systems like the
SeaFLIR- 2 and SeaFLIR- 3, which
have evolved to what is now our current product and that line is called
the SeaFLIR 230HD. Our newest
product is the SeaFLIR 280HD. On
the larger system side — the 15-inch
turrets — we started selling specifically to the Navy on a program called
SPS — Shipboard Protection System.
That was the Seastar Safire 3, which
has evolved into a newer system —
the Seastar Safire 380HD.
“The Ship Protection System
currently is fielded on only a single
ship, USS Winston Churchill, due to
the cancellation of the program in
FLIR’s Seastar Safire 3 systems are installed on
Independence-class littoral combat ships (LCSs) — for
fire control of the 57mm gun — Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transports, Cyclone-class coastal patrol
ships and some Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The
Cyclones also have the FLIR Brite Star for targeting of
the ships’ Griffin anti-ship missiles.
The patrol boats — including the new Mark VI
patrol boat operated by Navy Coastal Riverine groups
and special operations boats operated by the SEALs —
also are equipped with FLIR EO/IR systems. FLIR supplied the Patrol Boat Electrical Optical System to Navy
and Coast Guard patrol boats and in 2015 won a
SOCOM contract for its newest-generation system.
FLIR Systems also has supported an Office of Naval
Research initiative (not a program of record) called
Situational Awareness Systems (SAWS) installed on three
aircraft carriers — USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS
George H.W. Bush and USS Theodore Roosevelt. Ager said
FLIR loaned some EO/IR systems that included short-wave infrared, which senses a part of the spectrum that
is “not pure infrared and not visual but the section of the
bandwidth that allows you to see through obscurations,”
such as fog, haze, smoke, particularly in a moisture-heavy maritime environment, that can hamper IR sensing. The SAWS can send the imagery to various displays
throughout the ship.
45 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / APRIL 2016
The Office of Naval Research-sponsored Situational Awareness System was
installed on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower prior to a deployment
in 2013. Supported by FLIR Systems, it uses two Electro-Optic/Infrared sensors
placed forward and aft of the ship’s island to provide 360-degree surveillance
capability to enhance force protection; aid navigation; monitor visit, board,
search and seizure operations; and detect mine-like objects in the water.