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At AUSA 2016, L-3 WESCAM has launched its smallest and lightest electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) airborne imaging system, the MX-8, which is designed for small tactical UAVs, light manned Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, and tactical aerostats requiring highperforming imaging solutions.

The MX-8 is a key addition to WESCAM’s MX-Series product line, as it addresses the growing demand for a lightweight, high-fidelity imaging system,” Michael T. Strianese, L-3’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said. “Our emphasis on developing advanced technologies that address smaller form factor requirements is reflected in the versatility and precision of this product. We are working every day to align our research and development initiatives with the continually evolving needs of a broad array of global customers.”

The fully digital MX-8 has an installed weight of 15lbs (6.8kg) and is capable of supporting up to four sensors simultaneously. It contains all the geolocation capabilities of L-3’s larger MX-Series systems and is equipped with an advanced image processing suite that produces real-time image enhancement across all sensors. With an 8.3in-diameter turret ball and 11in-ground-clearance plane, the MX-8 is the smallest of the family, yet has a four-axis system offering an exceptional 35-μrad stabilisation, which is particularly important in the smaller platforms for which the turret is primarily intended.

As said, MX-8 is targeted at UAVs and small manned platforms. The new turret offers a significant weight-saving compared to the MX-10, the previous wunderkind of the L-3 Wescam line. The reduced weight will also appeal to users wishing to add a second sensor system, such as radar, to a SWaP-limited platform. MX-8 has the same interface as the larger members of the family, which range from the 10in MX-10 to the 25in MX-25. All share common integration and training. 

Four sensor systems are incorporated into the turret, including a 3-5μm cooled staring array thermal imager with a field of view 2.75-28.9 degrees, and a colour lowlight continuous zoom camera with a field of view 1.53-30 degrees. The electro-optic set is complemented by an eye-safe laser rangefinder and 150mW Class IIIb laser illuminator. The turret features an embedded GPS receiver and has image-blending and autotracker capabilities. An e-zoom feature allows for 2x and 4x magnification.

Although the MX-8 is engineered to meet military specifications and defense forces such as the US Army are seen as key customers, the turret offers a significant reduction in cost compared with the larger systems, making it a more attractive option for non-military operators, such as law enforcement agencies and emergency medical services. The MX series has already gained significant traction in the law enforcement market; L-3 Wescam has sold 49 MX-10s to police forces this year already. (Photo: Mönch/DPM)

- Mönch Publications - Latest Issues -

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