Sofradir IR detector, Scorpio, wins design-in at Thales Land and Joint Systems

June 9, 2004
JUNE 9--Sofradir (Paris, France; has announced that Thales Land and Joint Systems has selected Scorpio as the infrared detector for its new line of gyrostabilized electro-optical turrets called Agile.

JUNE 9--Sofradir (Paris, France;, a developer and manufacturer of advanced infrared detectors for military, space, and industrial applications, has announced that Thales Land and Joint Systems, a provider of defense systems including optronic equipment, systems, and services, has selected Scorpio as the infrared detector for its new line of gyrostabilized electro-optical turrets called Agile (Airborne Gyro Stabilized IR Light Equipment). Gyrostabilized electro-optical turrets are essential subsystems that allow images used in detection, recognition, identification, localization, and designation to be kept relatively stable despite being on board erratically moving craft such as airplanes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), tanks, or marine vessels. Scorpio is a small, lightweight and very-high-resolution 640 x 512 mid-wavelength staring array IR detector, offering four times the performance of standard 320 x 256 mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) detectors.

Sofradir and Thales see significant growth potential for competitively priced multifunction gyrostabilized electro-optical turrets using higher-resolution imagery in UAVs, light helicopters, surveillance airplanes, marine vessels, and applications in law enforcement, day and night surveillance, search and rescue, as well as other paramilitary and civilian sectors. Sofradir plans to deliver 40 units of Scorpio to Thales over the next 12 months. Thales chose Sofradir's mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) MWIR detector because Sofradir's MCT technology makes it possible to achieve the 15-μm pitch while maintaining low cost and compatibility with existing standards such as the 320 x 256 mid-wavelength IR detector.

"The performance, size, and compatibility attributes of Sofradir's Scorpio allow us to provide a significant upgrade to Agile, a small (12-in.-diameter), low-cost gyrostabilized electro-optical turret, while keeping costs down and maintaining a performance lead," said Georges Creel, PLM Electro-Optical Turrets in the Defense Optronics Strategic Business Line. "Thales has already collaborated with Sofradir--more than 6000 of our Sophie hand-held thermal-imaging goggles have already been sold in 45 countries. We have also worked together in high-end airborne applications, including laser designation pods and more recently recce pods. The arrival of small-footprint, low-price, high-performance technology widens the number of applications for MWIR detectors, and we look forward to further success with Agile."

Scorpio's light weight also gives it an added plus over competing models, which can weigh from 500 to 600 g, depending on their configuration. "Unlike InSb (indium antinomide) IR detectors, Scorpio can use the lightest microcoolers," says Philippe Tribolet, technical director at Sofradir. "Through our hybridized MCT technology, we have succeeded in increasing the resolution of the IR detector without increasing the size or raising the cost of the overall system. This cuts to the heart of equipment makers' necessity to improve product capabilities at reduced cost."

Scorpio operates in the 3- to 5-μm waveband and comes with the market's smallest cryocooler. It is similar in volume to standard 320 x 256 mid-wavelength IR detectors, but houses four times the number of pixels on the same focal-plane array area, hence its ability to offer substantially higher resolution imagery (TV definition quality). As result of incorporating a microcooler, Sofradir has lowered the input power consumption of this IR detector which means that for certain applications, such as IR hand goggles, Scorpio can provide up to 4O% longer battery autonomy than standard mid-wavelength IR detectors.

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