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By Debbie Gregory.

UTC Aerospace System, one of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace and defense products, is currently testing its next-generation short-wave infrared (SWIR) camera sensor in an effort to quickly identify friendly forces vs. targets of opportunity.

UTC’s multi-mode tracking sensor “can pick up designators as well as markers from friendly forces,” said Tara Martin, director of business development for UTC Aerospace Systems, ISR and Space Systems.

Sensors can pick up a wide range of markers on the infrared spectrum, but it’s the repetition/pulse rate that matters most, according to Martin.

“One thing that’s unique about our sensor is how fast it can operate. The faster the sensor can operate, the more different codes you can differentiate between,” she said. “We can tell if someone is pulsing at 4.99 hertz versus 5 hertz … and if you can verify you’re seeing that rate, that anticipated repetition rate, you can confirm with much more certainty you’re looking at the right person or the right target.”

An added benefit is that the enemy can’t pick up the laser on standard night-vision goggles.

While the sensors can be placed in handheld devices, tripods and ground vehicles, the units in the engineering and manufacturing phase will require further testing if the sensor is to be integrated into another system.

“There is always some modification or customization to the software that you tend to build for a particular program,” Martin said, adding that the sensor needs fewer optimization upgrades once it’s integrated.

“It’s … turn it on and let it run,” Martin said. “Some other sensors require a lot of fiddling with different parameters for each [mission] to make it work. This has a lot of automatic adjustment.”

In addition to the camera sensor system, UTC’s product range includes ejection seats, cockpit controls, fire protection systems, aircraft landing gear, rescue hoist, and even space suits.

The company is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.