News Release

Program Executive Office (Cruise Missiles and Joint Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
Commercial: (301) 757-6316
Fax: (301) 757-6303

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                         DATE:  February 8, 1999

Pointer Hand Launched UAV Uses Micro Infrared Camera for First Night Launch

        The Navy points the way with Pointer, its hand launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This small UAV recently performed two very successful reconnaissance night demonstrations, thanks to the new micro infrared (IR) camera. The miniature IR-microcam thermal imager (designed by Ion Electronics) provides the military unsurpassed performance in a never before achieved miniature, low power package.

        During a flight at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California, the IR microcam made its first successful test flight aboard the Pointer. The electric motors of the Pointer silently propelled the craft to over 500 ft. altitude, where it collected and transmitted daylight like images, in full darkness, to the ground station below. Dual displays provided for heads-down pilot operation and parallel real time video reconnaissance. The high-resolution infrared images provided ample discrimination to identify tanks, bunkers, vehicles, and personnel.

        The first successful field demonstration aboard Pointer occurred at the military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) site at Fort Benning, Georgia. The system provided warfighters with real time reconnaissance infrared video imagery of the MOUT facility at night. The reconnaissance images provide critical information to help a small unit leader to make time critical and sensitive decisions prior to conducting military operations in the MOUT site. This successful demonstration validated the Phase II objective of the microcam small business innovative research program (SBIR).

        The image quality of the IR microcam exceeds those available in large mechanically cooled cameras. The lightweight sensor head (only 3" x 3.9" x 3.2" weighing only 7.0 oz.) uses a high-resolution (320 x 240 pixel array) uncooled focal plane array. The room temperature array has no coolers - eliminating moving parts, thermal stress, and high power drain; and providing a high reliability, compact assembly. The patented tethered design permits the sensor head to be placed in smaller spaces than ever before possible - enabling new applications for thermal imaging.

        Designed for military miniature UAVs, the small IR-microcam’s rugged design, low power drain (4.5 Watts Typ.), and wide operating temperature range (-20 to 60 oC.) enable it to be used in demanding environments requiring maximum portability and durability. The highly sensitive camera responds to temperature differences smaller than 0.1 ° C, and captures high frame rate (60Hz) without blooming, blurring, or trails.

        The Pointer UAV is managed by the Small UAV Project Team of the Program Executive Office, Cruise Missiles and Joint Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (PEO (CU)). If you would like to learn more about PEO (CU) log on to our website at

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For further information contact:
Cathy Partusch, Public Affairs Officer, PEO (CU)
voice: (301) 757-6316
email: [email protected]


Sandy Schroeder, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, PEO (CU)
voice: (301) 757-5289
email: [email protected]