Old And New Sensors Drive For High Resolution
By David Hambling, Bill Sweetman
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
One clue may be found in the USAF's comment that the ASQ-236 “leverag(es) the technology development associated with the F-22 Raptor.” The Air Force and U.S. industry have explored the use of ultra-high-range resolution techniques for target classification and identification, and these would likely be used on the F-22 radar. Applied to a Ku-band radar, the result would be extremely high resolution in range, making it possible to detect such things as disturbed earth due to IED placement.
With all this technology, it is interesting to know that one of the USAF's most valuable sensors still uses wet film—2 mil. of it per sortie. The Lockheed U-2 is at least the third carrier for the KA-80 Optical Bar Camera (OBC), which was designed in the 1960s by Itek (now part of Goodrich). Its purpose was to acquire 1-ft.-resolution imagery of a 1,700 X 40-mi. swath of China, on a single overflight by the Compass Arrow stealth UAV. Today, there is no known in-service digital sensor that does exactly what the OBC does.