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Improved heat signatures for jet engines
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Heat seekers on missiles are now able to react to the heat signatures of jet aircraft engines in various run modes.


Hey guys! We’d like to unveil details of the recent improvement in the mechanics of acquiring the thermal signatures of jet engines by missile seekers. The fact is that the picture of the intensity and distribution of heat from an aircraft jet engine directly depends on its operational mode. So, in non-afterburning modes, the intensity of the plumes of hot gasses in the forward hemisphere of an aircraft is low and comparable to the intensity of the glow of a heated fuselage skin.

At the same time, the expanding flame of burning fuel in afterburner modes has a significant luminosity not only in the rear, but also in the front hemispheres of the aircraft.

The lock-on range of infrared homing heads in the forward hemisphere for non-afterburning targets is determined mostly by the heating of the fuselage. The presence of such an intense source of infrared radiation as an afterburner plume significantly increases the possibility of target detection at long distances.

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Target acquisition limits of the AIM-9L missile for max and afterburner operational modes

We have discriminated the afterburner plume into a separate thermal signature for a more correct calculation for target detection range in afterburner mode. In addition to the increasing of the lock-on range in the forward hemisphere of all-aspect missiles, like AIM-9L and R-24T, with a cooled sensor made of indium antimonide, this allowed us to recreate the limited front aspect capability of the AIM-9D type missiles with a cooled sensor made of lead sulfide, which at short distances allows the detection and killing of afterburning targets on a head-on directions.

Thus, missile IR seekers now more correctly process thermal signatures of different engine modes at different distances and at different angles. In addition, it has become possible to significantly expand the tactics of missiles already familiar to you. Happy air hunting, pilots!

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Target acquisition limits for the R-24T missile for targets at various engine modes

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