Technology Today

2012 Issue 2

Raytheon's Multi-Spectral Targeting System Providing the finest in sensor technology for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

Raytheon's Multi-Spectral Targeting System Providing the finest in sensor technology for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

The Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS) has been developed by Raytheon to meet the demand for high-quality intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. The turreted "ball" incorporates visible, infrared and laser-ranging capabilities. Contained within its limited volume is a full-featured sensor suite that provides long-range surveillance, target acquisition, tracking, range-finding and laser designation for the AGM-114 Hellfire missile and for all tri-service and NATO laser-guided munitions. The MTS is deployed globally on a wide variety of platforms, including the U.S. Air Force's MQ-1 Predator, the larger MQ-9 Reaper, the U.S. Army's Grey Eagle Common Sensor Platform, MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters, and manned fixed-wing aircraft such as the C130.

Figure 1

The MTS-A and MTS-B variants form the backbone of the MTS family, incorporating advanced cameras, laser rangefinders/designators and gimbal control. The sensor can operate day or night. MTS-A is the smaller, lighter ball, while MTS-B is a larger aperture ball for improved resolution, longer range and better performance (Figure 1). Some key parameters of the two balls are shown in Table 1. The sensor offers multiple imagers, multiple fields of views, and optionally, multiple laser sources. Advanced gimbals are used on the turrets to provide highly stable platforms for both imaging and lasing. The MTS-A uses a two-axis gimbal design, while MTS-B uses a five-axis gimbal design to provide the stability necessary to accommodate its higher-altitude operation and resolution.

International Applications

The global market is growing as the need increases for both overland and maritime surveillance capabilities. Raytheon provides a complete ISR solution that outperforms other turreted balls. The U.K. has deployed Raytheon MTS products on Royal Air Force Reapers. These have flown missions totaling more than 25,000 hours from Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan since their introduction in 2007, controlled by a contingent based at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Raytheon also supports multiple operations for the Italian Air Force with both Predator (MTS-A) and Reaper (MTS-B).


The latter was deployed by the Italian Air Force over Libya as part of Italy's contribution to NATO's Operation Unified Protector. The Italian Air Force also operates MQ-1C Predator A+ aircraft, which use the MTS-A sensor. These have been in use over Iraq and Afghanistan since 2005.

The Royal Australian Navy recently selected the MTS-A system for production and deployment on 24 MH-60R helicopters (Figure 2). Combined with the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-surface missile, MTS-A enables the MH-60R's air-to-surface strike capability and anti-submarine warfare. Other ongoing international coalition users of maritime helicopter platforms include Denmark, India, South Korea and Middle East nations. Japan is the latest coalition partner to select and procure the MTS-A in support of evolving maritime helicopter operations.

Figure 2

Variants of MTS solutions, known as AVES (Airborne Vision Enhanced System) and EOSS (Electro-Optical Sensor System) have been delivered for use in Australia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Brazil. These are typically hosted on S-70B helicopters as well as fixed-wing aircraft and aerostats, and they can be adapted to any airborne platform required by the customer. These two systems are used for surveillance purposes only and are not configured to support weapon deployment.

The Raytheon MTS family of turreted sensors represents some of the most sophisticated sensors available today. Combining precision gimbal control, advanced optics and cameras, and advanced lasers, a single MTS turret can support multiple applications, including surveillance, targeting, tracking and reconnaissance. Systems currently employ high-definition visible and IR sensors. Future, more advanced products will include more powerful lasers, improved sensitivity, accurate geo-location tagging, improved on-board processing and additional spectral coverage. These airborne sensors, hosted on unmanned aircraft, helicopters and fixed-wing manned aircraft, will continue to offer worldwide solutions that provide our warfighters and our allies the actionable information needed to dominate the 21st century battlespace.

Andrew Mondy and Gregory Roth

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