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NEWS | May 30, 2023

NSWC Crane leads Office of Naval Research effort to enhance electro-optics, infrared technology at sea

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) hosted a milestone workshop for a new program dedicated to improved maritime electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) technology. The workshop hosted about 40 participants from across industry, government, and several federally-funded laboratories meeting in-person for the first time in Bloomington, Indiana and at NSWC Crane on May 10-11.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) program, a new Future Naval Capability (FNC) called Multi-SpecTral High Resolution Imaging and Targeting Sensor (MUST-HITS), addresses research challenges and opportunities in high resolution imaging and integration technology areas. NSWC Crane provides robust technology support and integration for the ONR-funded MUST-HITS FNC which is executed by Senseeker Engineering, Inc., HRL Laboratories, LLC, Cyan Systems, Inc., and Lockheed Martin. This program has garnered interest from across the Department of Defense (DOD).

NSWC Crane leads and is contributing expertise to this science and technology (S&T) effort which aims to rapidly enhance advanced maritime EO/IR technology in order to improve visibility of a wide variety of targets at once. Dr. Benjamin Conley, the Senior Scientist and Technology Manager (SSTM) for EO/IR sensing, is also the ONR Program Officer for this effort. 

“It was great having the entire MUST-HITS team together in the same room,” says Dr. Conley. “With MUST-HITS, we are aiming to improve warfighter visibility and situational awareness for long-range and real-time targeting at sea. The program will do this through an unprecedented infrared resolution sensor using a digital back-end to see multiple items at the same time at range. MUST-HITS also will provide baseline capability for upgrades in the future without major hardware and sensor replacements due to the digital nature of the sensor.”

NSWC Crane experts have played a key role in establishing the Navy’s first electro-optic infrared Program of Record for the surface Navy, called Shipboard Panoramic Electro-Optic Infrared (SPEIR)—MUST-HITS is an upgraded situational awareness and targeting capability that will be transitioned into SPEIR for the fleet in future upgrades. The POR is supported through Program Executive Office (PEO) Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS) 2.0.

Dr. Joshua Borneman, the Electro-Optics Chief Scientist at NSWC Crane and government Principle Investigator for MUST-HITS, says NSWC Crane’s EO/IR experts are driving technological change for the fleet.

“NSWC Crane supports EO/IR technology across all domains of the DOD, from early research to late life-cycle support, and has an excellent history of transitioning new technology into the Fleet,” says Dr. Borneman. “The camera technology being developed from MUST-HITS will not just provide new maritime mission capabilities; it will be applicable across many EO/IR domains and programs.”

Teams working on the MUST-HITS effort are each furthering different components of technological development. Dr. Conley says there are several ways this effort could benefit industry.

“As MUST-HITS improves the surface EO/IR capability evolution, there are multiple opportunities to transition each capability across the Department of Defense,” says Dr. Conley. “There are also multiple opportunities to make breakthroughs in each technology area—for instance, in increasing camera quality.”


MUST-HITS workshop participants included but were not limited to several organizations:

  • Office of Naval Research
  • Program Executive Office (PEO) Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS) 2.0
  • NSWC Crane
  • NSWC Dahlgren
  • Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • Senseeker
  • HRL Laboratories
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Labs
  • Cyan Systems
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Air Force Research Lab
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV)
  • Army C5ISR
  • U.S. Naval Research Lab (NRL)
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

About NSWC Crane NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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