20 May 13. Raytheon Company marked its five-decade heritage as the maker of Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology that has allowed U.S. and international defense forces to track objects in total darkness, often from long distances. Over the span of 50 years, the devices have shrunk in size and weight — from several hundred pounds to less than two — while providing ever clearer images and more accurate data.
Their history began in 1963 when Texas Instruments’ Defense Systems and Electronics business (later acquired by Raytheon) created a capability to essentially allow the warfighter to see at night. By the end of the 1960s, the first product had been developed and deployed on board a C-47 fixed wing aircraft, nicknamed “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
From that first platform, and after five decades and hundreds of thousands of devices sold, Raytheon is the world’s top supplier of FLIR technologies that support members of the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, as well as international allies. The devices are used on land, air and sea, and in space, to provide intelligence, surveillance, navigation and targeting capabilities.
“Before FLIR, the military’s ability to go out and conduct operations in total darkness was significantly limited. Our forces couldn’t see beyond the naked eye,” said Jerry Powlen, vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems in Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business. “What started as a concept in the early 1960s has become a valuable asset to the warfighter in nearly every major U.S. conflict.”
During the Gulf conflicts, FLIR gave U.S. ground forces an advantage on the battlefield, allowing troops to “own the night,” and not only spot the enemy but also recognize friendly forces. The company has consistently evolved the technology. The next generation will provide a common high-definition view across the battlefield, and high definition resolution and magnification at much greater stand-off distances. This enhancement will help increase warfighter survivability and effectiveness, enabling our servicemen and women to identify and determine threats faster and with more precision. Raytheon’s FLIR technology is deployed across multiple platforms — from satellites, fixed-wing aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems, helicopters, tanks and military vehicles to hand-held thermal weapon sights and missile systems.
22 May 13. A Defense Acquisition Board approved full-rate production of Raytheon Company’s Standard Missile-6. Once operational in 2013, the SM-6 will provide U.S. Navy vessels extended range protection against fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles In February, Raytheon delivered the first SM-6 from its new $75m, 70,000 square-foot SM-6 and Standard Missile-3 all-up-round production facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. The facility features advanced tools and the latest processes for missile production, enabling Raytheon to streamline processes, reduce costs and add value for the warfighter.
20 May 13. USAF set to conduct operational testing of Minuteman III missile. The US Air Force (USAF) is set to conduct an operational test launch of an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on 21 May, from Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US. A press release from the Global Strike Command stated that following its launch, the ICBM will boost a single re-entry vehicle approximately 4,190m to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, northern Pacific Ocean. 576th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) commander colonel Richard Pagliuco said the tests will provide USAF with an opportunity to present the operational readiness of its ICBM force. Scheduled to be carried out by the 91st Missile Wing personnel under the direction of 576th FLTS, the test launch will enable further evaluation and verification of missile’s effectiveness, readiness and accuracy, while also prov