Imaging sensors were used with precision guided weapons since the early 1970. Until recently, lack of processing power and datalink capacity have limited the use of such guidance techniques to relatively short range direct attack weapons (such as Maverick) and medium range strike missiles (such as Have Lite and SLAM). With the introduction of powerful thermal imaging sensors and signal processors, autonomous (fire and forget) missiles are now available for anti-tank uses. Similar capabilities are also provided to support standoff aerial weapons, both for autonomous and guided weapons. These weapons offer high precision, and inherent battle damage assessment capability which cannot be provided by GPS, SAL or radar directed weapons. Furthermore, EO sensors enable important functions which are becoming essential for modern warfare – such as positive, automatic or manual identification of targets, engagement of moving targets, and dynamic aimpoint selection even with autonomous weapons, with the use of target recognition and tracking (ATA/ATR). While “man in the loop” capability of EO guided weapons is extremely useful, deployment of many such weapons in simultaneous attack require significant investment in bandwidth and datalink coordination and support, which can complicate the execution.
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Imaging (Visual / IIR) Precision Guidance System