US 3715953 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
ite Allan States ate Feb. 13,1973
[ AERIAL SURVEILLANCE AND FIRE-  Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Army 22 Filed: Feb. 4, 1966 211 Appl. No.: 525,802
 US. Cl. ..89/36 L, 89/41 ME, 89/41 L,
17816.8, 244/316, 356/4, 356/152  Int. Cl. ..F41g l/40, F4lg 3/06, F413 7/14  Field of Search ..89/1, 1 A, 1.5 E, 36.46, 41, 89/415, 41.6, 41.61, 41.62, 41.7, 41.7 L,
41.7 ME, 47 R; 244/316; 33/46; 331/945;
2,995,740 8/1961 Shreckengost 178/68 X 3,033,923 5/1962 Stocker ....l78/6.8 3,144,215 8/1964 Klein ...52/l08 UX 3,213,573 10/1965 Bohr et a1 ..52/108 3,226,059 12/1965 Paterson et a1. ..178/6.8 X
3,256,387 6/1966 Beste ..178/6.8
3,258,595 6/ 1966 Galante ..250/199 3,305,633 2/1967 Chemoch ..331/94.5 UX
3,321,248 5/1967 Williamson et a1 ..33/46 X OTHER PUBLICATIONS Strous et al., "Radar MPG1," Electronics, December 1945, pp- 92-97 Primary Examiner-Stephen C. Bentley Attorney-Harry M. Saragovitz, Edward J. Kelly, Herbert Berl and J. Keith Fowler  ABSTRACT An aerial surveillance and fire-control system including an elevatable fire-control and scanning section and a control console mounted in a combat vehicle. The scanning section is defined by a TV camera, a pulsed laser rangefinder/illuminator, and an azimuth readout device, all mounted on a three-axis, rate-stabilized platform. A protective, but transparent, housing is provided for the scanning section, and this housing, when retracted, is seated in a mating compartment in the roof of the vehicle. A coilable, extendible type mast is provided for raising and lowering the scanning section. A cable-reel assembly disposed adjacent the coiled mast within the vehicle supplies the electrical cable within the mast.
6 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures AERIAL SURVEILLANCE AND FIRE-CONTROL SYSTEM The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the government for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalty thereon.
This invention relates to an aerial surveillance and fire-control system. Such a system is particularly useful where it is desirable to observe surrounding terrain, for example, in reconnaissance and combat screening operations by field troops, or in civilian work which requires observation from a distance. More particularly, in combat operations, such a system is needed to provide an indirect fire capability for various tactical, laser,semiactive missile-weapon systems.
The present invention provides means to image a target from a remote under-cover, out-of-line-of-sight location, recognize and identify said target, and direct fire upon the target by locating the same for the artillery of the like field weapons, or by illuminating the target for a semiactive homing missile.
Accordingly, a principal object of this invention is to provide an aerial surveillance and fire-control system capable of pin-pointing a remote target and directing indirect fire thereon.
Another object of this invention is to provide an aerial surveillance system with an elevatable fire-control or scanning section which may be elevated to various heights and lowered in a minimum of time and by minimum power.
Still another object of this invention is to provide an aerial surveillance system having control means mounted in and controlled directly from an armored combat or the like mobile vehicle.
A further object of the invention is to provide an aerial surveillance system with a scanning section which may be oriented while the same is airborne.
A yet further object of this invention is to provide an aerial surveillance system with a lightweight mast device for elevating the scanning section, which device is relatively stable and free from excessive vibration when used with a vehicle that travels over rough terrain.'
Another object of this invention is to provide an aerial surveillance system system with an elevatable scanning section which will function as a fire-control means for a semiactive missile system.
The foregoing and other objects along with many features and advantages of this invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and from the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of the aerial surveillance and fire-control system with the payload assembly or scanning section in an operative, elevated position above a combat vehicle;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view, partly broken away, illustrating the components of the aerial surveillance and fore-control system mounted within the vehicle of FIG.
FIG. 3 is an elevational view depicting the components of the scanning section positioned on a portion of the support platform.
In the drawing (FIG. 1 there is shown a preferred embodiment of the invention wherein reference numeral 1 designates an aerial survellance system. This system includes three major components, namely: a
payload assembly or scanning section 2, a mast apparatus 4 and a ground control station 6. The latter may be a tank as illustrated or an armored personnel 5 carrier or the like vehicle.
The scanning section, which is raised and lowered by the mast device, includes a generally spherical, protective capsule or housing 8, which is preferably made of a transparent plastic or the like material. Inside the housing, a conventional, three-axis, rate-stabilized platform (FIG. 2) is mounted. The platform includes a support member 12 (FIG. 3) on which are mounted three functional components, namely: a very sensitive television camera 14, a light-weight, pulsed rangefinder-illuminator 16, and an azimuth heading or readout device 18. The television camera and the laser device are collinearly disposed and may be positioned in azimuth and elevation by means of appropriate remote servo controls (not shown) interconnected by wires 19 with a control panel 40 to be described. These wires provide the necessary electrical connection between the components of the scanning section 2 and control console 40, which is located in ground station 6. The purpose of the three-axis stabilized platform is to stabilize the line of sight of the camera and the laser device. The television receiver apparatus may include, for example, a well known, low-light-level image, vidicon camera, an electronic shutter, a narrow spectral band optical filter and a lens system (not shown). The purpose of the shutter is to produce a short gate at maximum gain at the instant the laser is fired. The second component, the laser range-finder-illuminator, may be of any known type having suitable form, factor, and operational characteristics. For example, a neodymium illuminator may be utilized. The primary function of the laser subsystem is to supply target range information and to provide target illumination for detection by the television camera subsystem. The third component, the azimuth-heading device, may be a magnetic compass or gyro-compass card combined with an automatic readout device. These three components are preferably mounted on a well known, three-axis platform such as one utilizing three orthagonal rate gyros. Thus, the platform, along with the housing, appropriate servoloops and interconnects (not shown), camera, laser device and the readout device form the scanning section. A compartment 7 is formed in the upper wall of the tank for housing the scanning section housing 2 when the same is in a retracted position (FIG. 2).
Mast assembly 4 includes the mast 28, an erection mechanism 20 and a cable-reel assembly 30. The mast, hereinafter referred to as the STEM (Storable Tubular Extendible Member) or STEM device, provides a unique unfurlable tube-type structure for elevating the payload or scanning section. The STEM is constructed of a plurality of concentrically nested tubular elements, one inside the other. These tubular elements are formed of sheet steel or the like strip metal, the material being heat-treated to a circular section in such a manner that the edges of the material overlap approximately 180, thus, providing the tubular element with a bending strength substantially equivalent to that of a seamless tube of the same diameter and wall thickness. The inner and outer tubes extend the height of the mast, while the other, intermediate tubes are foreshortened so as to obtain a selected root-bending moment which is a function of the extending height. The outer tubular element may terminate at its upper end in an adapter (not shown) for connecting the same to the scanning section housing. The tubular elements, when retracted, are stored in a strained, flattened condition by winding the same onto drum 22 (FIG. 2), which is part of erection apparatus 20. The mast is, thus, in a horizontal (stowed) position when retracted within tank 6 (FIG. 2). In this position, spherical housing 8 rests within well 7 in the upper wall of the tank.
The erection apparatus includes a motor-driven storage drum 22 and a tape-forming guidance structure including a plurality of sets of oppositely disposed, coacting guide rollers 24, 26. While only two such sets are illustrated, it should be apparent that more sets may be required for smooth operation in unfurling the STEM. As the STEM is retracted, the multi-layered tubular element is smoothly transformed into a flattened condition by passing the same through the guidance structure. Accordingly, the tubular elements are wound onto the drum in a strained, flattened condition during the retraction cycle. The STEM may be extended or retracted by rotating the drum in the appropriate direction. Rotation of the drum may be effected by any suitable rotary power means, e.g., an electric or hydraulic motor (not shown). Retracting the STEM involves applying strain energy to the element material as it flattens. Since the stored element has a natural tendancy to self extend, the power'required for deployment is relatively low. The bending and torsional strength of the STEM may be increased for a given diameter by nesting several tubular elements together. The STEM is unlike telescoping and the like, known masts, which are limited in height and weight-carrying capacity, in that any height and weight-carrying limitations is basically that associated with tall slender columns.
The cable-reel assembly 30 includes a self-winding reel 32 (FIG. 2) which may be driven by a suitable rotary power means (not shown), and a multicore, coaxial cable equipped with a suitable connector (not shown) for connecting the cable via the axis of the reel with a control console 40. It is noted that the cable is adapted for passing through the hollow, tubular mast at a point just below rollers 26. The cable-reel assembly serves to transmit both power and data to the scanning section and to convey data and feedback information to the various control displays and equipment housed in the vehicle.
The ground control equipment includes a console 40 mounted within the tank. The console is interconnected by cables 34 and 36 with the components of the scanning section. The console includes a T.V. monitor screen 42, a T.V. control panel 44, a laser control panel 46, a mast control panel 48, and the necessary backboard wiring, signal processing and any adaption devices (not shown) required to mount the structure in the tank or the like vehicle. The focal point of the operators console is the television viewer. The control console may also include a remote radio and control set (not shown) to provide voice communications and data transmission between the console operator and a remote observer.
OPERATION Typically, during combat operations, the vehicle commander may utilize the aerial surveillance system for battlefield survellance and fire control, while concealing the vehicle to potential threats. Initially, the scanning section is elevated by the powered mast or STEM device to a suitable altitude upon manipulation of the appropriate controls on mast control panel 48. When a target is acquired and identified, the laser device is used to range to the target. This range information is combined with relative-target bearing to obtain the elementary fire-control data required to lay the gun-launcher on the target. The rangeflnder-illuminator is then changed to the illuminate mode and a semiactive missile or the like projectile is launched on a ballistic path into the target area. After the missile keels over on the ballistic trajectory and the seeker sees the illuminated target in its field-of-view, the missile control system is enabled and the missile then homes in on the reflected laser energy. In the illustrated application of the system in FIG. 1, the tank, which houses the system and functions as the ground control station therefor, is provided with a gun launcher for semiactive missiles. Thus, the surveillance, fire control, and actual firing of the missile is effected from the same vehicle in the preferred application of the invention. However, the operation of the system is the same in an application wherein a separate gun-launcher is positioned remotely relative to vehicle 6. In the latter application the only additional equipment that is necessary is a radio hook-up between the operator in control station 6 and the remote operator in the gun-launcher. Thus, upon target acquisition by the elevated camera, screening vehicle 6 would range to the target and then relay the fire mission to the remote launcher. In the latter application the screening vehicle would commence to illuminate the target by the laser device prior to launching the missiles.
The aerial surveillance and fire-control system according to this invention may also be used in a forward area, air-defense weapon system against oncoming targets. Further, the range and field of view of the system may be increased by utilizing several STEM devices to elevate the scanning section to greater heights.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described and illustrated.
What is claimed is:
1. An aerial surveillance and fire-control system for observing surrounding terrain and providing fire control for a semiactive, homing missile system comprising, in combination: a ground control station having a control console mounted therein; a scanning section including a protective housing, a three-axis, stabilized platform mounted within said housing, and a television camera, a laser rangefinder-illuminator and an azimuth reference device all mounted on said platform; a mast apparatus for raising and lowering said scanning section, said apparatus including a tubular, coilable, extendible mast device having one end connected to the base of said scanning section housing and supporting the same in a generally vertical plane and the other end wound on a rotatable drum housed in said ground control station; and a cable-reel assembly mounted in said ground control station, said assembly including a multicore, coaxial cable, said cable extending axially through said tubular mast and having circuitry electrically interconnecting each of the elements of the scanning section with said control console.
2. An aerial surveillance and fire-control system as defined in claim 1 wherein said mast apparatus further includes a rotatably driven drum mounted horizontally in said control station, a series of pairs of guide rollers mounted in said control station in a vertical plane above said drum, each pair of rollers being spacedapart vertically, said mast device being adapted to be wound on said drum in a strained, flattened condition for storage and being adapted to extend by unfurling into a rigid tubular structure upon being passed between said series of pairs of guide rollers.
defined in claim 5 wherein said console in the ground control station includes a television monitor screen, a television control means, a laser control means, and a mast control means.