BAE wins Navy target system subcontract

BAE Systems has won a subcontract to install new sensor technology into Raytheon's shared reconnaissance pod, a high-resolution targeting system that is being designed for use in the Navy's F-18 aircraft.

BAE's spectral infrared imaging technology testbed sensor, known as SPIRITT, processes spectral data from hundreds of wavelengths, from visible to infrared, to automatically detect and identify camouflaged or concealed targets from high altitudes based on their material composition.

Raytheon builds the Shared Reconnaissance Pod targeting systems, which are fitted on the underbelly of aircraft, said Howard Weinstein, direction of intelligence systems at BAE Systems in Greenlawn, N.Y. "This would be a new sensor for the SHARP pod," he said.

The $2.3 million subcontract calls for installing SPIRITT, which was developed for the Air Force, into the pod and integrating it with the F-18 flight systems. "This has never been done before," Weinstein said, "so there is technical work required and then there is support of these flight demonstrations."

BAE is in the process of taking its sensor to Raytheon to make sure everything fits and mounts in the pod correctly. "That's part of the contractual requirements," he said.

The system is tentatively scheduled to be tested on an F-18 aircraft in September at the flight test facility in China Lakes, Calif., Weinstein said.

"If the demonstration is successful, this will provide a new capability for the F-18 to detect targets, which it currently doesn't have," he said. It will also give the F-18 the capability of providing long-range imagery, which it currently doesn't have. "SPIRITT provides a combination of all those things," he added.

BAE hopes the Navy will want to buy several more sensors for permanent integration into the Raytheon pods, he said.

BAE Systems of Rockville, Md., has 45,000 employees and had annual sales of $11 billion in 2006. The company ranks No. 15 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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