Software developed by Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group, known as VIRSuite, is enhancing the analysis, evaluation and development of electro-optical systems in a range of complex scenarios and environments, as well as saving money on missile firings.
The research and development organisation said electo-optical systems are crucial to the effectiveness of air-to-air missiles, air-to surface missiles (used to attack both ships and land targets) and are vital in enhancing the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter’s survivability and operational effectiveness by warning the pilot of incoming aircraft and missile threats.
DST Group said the VIRSuite software is, along with supporting all digital simultations, enabling virtual reality for heat seeking missiles ‘flown’ in a laboratory when combined with an infrared projector.
VIRSuite was initially used in testing and enhancing the capabilities of the short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) imaging infrared seeker.
Defence researcher Shawn Garner said, "A great deal of effort was invested to ensure the VIRSuite scenes matched those captured by ASRAAM during firings and initial testing."
DST Group said the experience with ASRAAM has allowed the group to successfully enhance VIRSuite's capabilities. The software can now carry out a series of ASRAAM missile firings against a drone aircraft target that had never previously been seen in the air.
"We were able to measure a similar engine on the ground and modify it to match the physical characteristics of the target," Garner said.
"We also took advantage of some work done elsewhere in DST on infrared signatures (heat emissions) to produce a predicted signature model for the target."
By inputting this data into the VIRSuite software, the ASRAAM team was able to work with the Royal Australian Air Force to plan a set of accurate firings against the target that met all objectives.
Garner said that recent developments in PC-based graphic cards has allowed DST Group to run hundreds of high quality simulated missile firings in real time.
"Real firings cost about $2 million each, so VIRSuite allows us to explore capability in a cost efficient way," says Garner.
"In addition, it allows us to generate scenes for testing other pieces of hardware as well as human activity."
The software takes into account background clutter including sun-glint on clouds, the way waves interact with vessels, and is capable of replicating sparse desert environments and complex urban environments. It is capable of generating detailed scenes in visible, ultra violet and infrared bands with high degrees of accuracy, including atmospheric effects.
DST Group is currently working with Consilium Technology to produce a collaboration project agreement for the ongoing support and development of VIRSuite.
"Our intent is to ensure all the intellectual property developed remains with the Commonwealth, allowing us to share it with other government organisations free of charge," said Garner.