Release Date
August 23rd, 2023
Open Date
September 20th, 2023
Due Date(s)
October 18th, 2023
Close Date
October 18th, 2023
Topic No.


Compact Midwave Infrared Hyperspectral Imager for Attritable Platforms


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2023


The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking proposals for a compact midwave infrared hyperspectral imager for attritable platforms. The objective is to develop a midwave infrared (MWIR) hyperspectral imager capable of covering a 3-5 um wavelength range with at least 250 spectral bands. MWIR HSI has traditionally received less attention due to complications with solar reflection and self-emission affecting target detection, but advancements in non-linear detection algorithms have mitigated these concerns. The proposed system should have a ground sample distance (GSD) of no more than 3m and a noise equivalent spectral radiance (NESR) of no more than 2 u-flicks averaged across all bands between 4.5 and 5 um. The project will be conducted in three phases: Phase I involves developing plans and concept designs, Phase II focuses on refining the concept and developing a prototype, and Phase III involves adapting the design for an attritable platform and conducting flight testing. The solicitation is open until October 18, 2023. For more information, visit the DoD SBIR 23.3 BAA solicitation on


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Network System-of-Systems


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop a midwave infrared (MWIR) hyperspectral imager (HSI) capable of covering a 3-5 um with at least 250 spectral bands.


DESCRIPTION: Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) has demonstrated utility for material classification and target detection/identification as well as gas detection and quantification. [1] Most HSI sensors work in either the visible through shortwave infrared (V-SWIR) or longwave infrared (LWIR.) V-SWIR sensors rely on solar illumination limited their use to daytime applications. LWIR sensors rely on the emitted radiance from targets meaning they can operate during day or night but cameras and often optics must be cooled to cryogenic temperatures to avoid near field radiance swamping any target signal thus increasing cost, size, weight, and power (C-SWaP.)  MWIR HSI has traditionally received less attention because both solar reflection and self-emission affect the target signature complicating target detection. As non-linear detection algorithms such as neural networks gain prominence these complications become less of a concern. Largely because of these processing issues development of MWIR HSI sensors over the last 20 years has been extremely limited. As such existing MWIR HSI sensors such as Aerospace’s MAHI have SWaPs (>10ft^3 and >100lbs) that far exceed those needed for attritable platforms. [2] Low-SWaP MWIR options such as Telops’s MWIR Hypercam [3] rely on long integration times to get sufficient SNR which makes detection of transient events such as gas releases or moving targets extremely difficult. MWIR FPA and other component technologies have continued to advance during this time making it possible to design a sensor that meets the SWaP constraints of attritable platforms. MWIR HSI sensor can also potentially balance the limitations of V-SWIR and LWIR sensors allowing for day-night operation but at reduced C-SWaP compared to LWIR systems. Although the use of MWIR HSI has been limited it has demonstrated success in greenhouse gas detection and quantification, [4] camouflage detection, [5] and explosives detection [6] as well as other applications. As camouflages become more sophisticated in reducing SWIR and LWIR features additional wavebands such as MWIR will become more valuable. Additionally, several combustions products such as CO2, CO, H20, and N2O have strong features in the MWIR that can be used to determine whether an engine is running and/or characterize different types of engines (i.e. diesel vs gas.) These applications would directly support AF Operational Imperative 3 by both detecting critical targets and distinguishing targets from decoys. The proposed system should have at least 250 bands with an objective of 600 bands and cover the full wavelength range from 3-5 um (T) or 2.9-5.5um (O). The sensor should have a GSD of no more than 3m (T), 1.5m (O) from when viewing nadir from an altitude of 20kft. NESR should not exceed 2 u-flicks (T) 1 u-flick (O) averaged across all bands between 4.5 and 5 um when viewing a 300K blackbody. There are no SWaP constraints for Phase I and II design and prototype but a design path forward should be presented for the sensor to fit in a volume of 5ft^3(T)/2ft^3(O), weigh less than 80lbs(T)/20lbs(O), and draw less than 500W(T)/100W(O) power. Prototype designs closer to meeting these specifications will be given preference, but the system performance metrics will take precedence.


PHASE I: Develop plans and concept designs and identify component options to demonstrate viability.


PHASE II: Develop and refine concept outlined in Phase I to include thermal and mechanical modeling, stray light analysis, and optical design tolerancing. Develop breadboard lab prototype (T) or ruggedized ground-based (O) sensor system.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Adapt existing design to meet C-SWaP requirements of an attritable platform, exact platform is to-be-determined but should be roughly what is outlined in the description. Ruggedize design for flight environment up to 70kft and conduct flight testing.



1M.T. Eismann, Hyperspectral Remote Sensing, SPIE press, Bellingham, WA (2012) 
Tratt, David M., et al. "MAHI: An airborne mid-infrared imaging spectrometer for industrial emissions monitoring." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 55.8 (2017): 4558-4566. 
Gagnon, Marc-André, et al. "Standoff midwave infrared hyperspectral imaging of ship plumes." 2015 7th Workshop on Hyperspectral Image and Signal Processing: Evolution in Remote Sensing (WHISPERS). IEEE, 2015.
Casey I. Honniball, Rob Wright, and Paul G. Lucey "MWIR hyperspectral imaging with the MIDAS instrument", Proc. SPIE 10177, Infrared Technology and Applications XLIII, 101770J (9 May 2017)
Kumar, Vinay, and Jayanta Kumar Ghosh. "Camouflage detection using mwir hyperspectral images." Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing 45 (2017): 139-145. 
K. Ruxton, G. Robertson, W. Miller, G.P. A. Malcolm, and G. T. Maker "Mid-infrared hyperspectral imaging for the detection of explosive compounds", Proc. SPIE 8546, Optics and Photonics for Counterterrorism, Crime Fighting, and Defence VIII, 85460V (30 October 2012)


KEYWORDS: Hyperspectral; Midwave Infrared; Low SWa