Wednesday 21 July 2010

Hot air at Farnborough

Two air display videos for you: both a mixture of colour and thermal imaging courtesy of Flightglobal and FLIR Systems.

First ... some display highlights. Note the thermal reflections on the Airbus fuselage and how the thermal imaging shows the hot exhaust gases clearly.

Secondly, the American F-22 Raptor ultrafighter. This was briefly at Farnborough in 2008 but is at this year's show every day including the public days over the coming weekend. More info in this piece in the Register, but it's worth noting that this plane aims to be thermally stealthy by reducing its heat signature. It does this, apparently, by channeling heat into the fuel tanks. This isn't so much to avoid detection by people with thermal cameras but more to foil heat-seeking missile systems.

Thermal stealth dates back to (at least) the second World War, with the German navy concocting a special paint for U-Boats to reduce their infrared visibility (apparently under the misconception that the British were using IR to detect subs whereas it was actually RADAR).

It's interesting to see how this particular FLIR camera (Star SAFIRE HD) switches from colour to thermal. This is a multispectral unit including HD thermal imaging. Here's the data sheet.