By Marc-André Gagnon, Telops
The development of effective countermeasures is a major concern of worldwide intelligence agencies. However, characterization of toxic or harmful substances can be a challenging task due to associated safety issues — field experiments carried out on chemical warfare agents (CWA) or toxic industrial chemicals (TIC) are among such risky experiments. The development of other defensive devices like smoke candles and flares also involve gaseous emissions of different chemicals. Airborne reconnaissance and surveillance represent additional challenges for militaries when it comes to deployment in hostile environments. In all these situations, standoff detection represents an effective approach for the characterization involved in the development of such devices.
Measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) is another cornerstone of most of the military agencies, in which chemical imaging using infrared is considered a method of choice. In such applications, hyperspectral imaging brings additional information to the task, providing the spectral dimension associated with each image. Standoff infrared hyperspectral sensors using Fourier transform (FTIR) spectroscopy can deliver a unique combination of spatial, spectral, and temporal resolution for a complete characterization. The technique has evolved from field experiments to multiple airborne platforms and now provides critical information to military R&D centers in various fields of application, ranging from surveillance to development of camouflage to characterization of gaseous emissions.