Infrared Range Facility


FLC Region

Security Lab



4555 Overlook Avenue S.W.




FUNCTION: Enables scientists to measure the infrared (IR) signature of scale aircraft or ship models in a controlled environment, to test the effectiveness of new signature suppression coatings, and to validate IR signature codes against range imagery. Simulates the IR environment from sea level to 30,000-ft altitudes, and provides viewing angles representative of standard IR threats, versatile control of scale model temperatures and orientations, and a low-cost alternative to IR field testing.

DESCRIPTION: The NRL Infrared Range Facility is a unique national user facility that serves the IR signature community. The range is a 14-ft-diameter, temperaturecontrolled, cylindrical enclosure that is treated withhigh-emittance coatings on the inner walls. The enclosure is surrounded by a 20-ft-diameter thermal chamber. Test articles are inserted through the roof of the chamber and can be viewed over a range of elevation angles from -20° to +45°. The test article itself can be rotated through ±180°, tilted through ±45°, and temperaturecontrolled through a variety of heaters and temperatureconditioned fluids. A midwave infrared (MWIR) source is available for semiquantitative solar simulations. The dry air atmosphere within the chamber has a dewpoint of approximately -70 °C and a CO 2 level of below 1 ppm. Low CO 2 levels are needed to minimize absorption in the CO2 absorption doublet near 4.2 μm. The low dewpoints are needed to minimize frost formation on the chamber walls when configured for high-altitude conditions (long-wavelength infrared, LWIR). The chamber walls used to simulate the zenith sky can attain temperatures as low as -110 °C. The sky panels are coated with a new type of flocked black coating with a hemispherical reflectance below 0.2% throughout the IR. Without such a coating, the thermal radiation from the warm Earth panels would reflect from the sky panels and overwhelm the emitted radiation from the sky.

INSTRUMENTATION: State-of-the-art focal plane array cameras, low-temperature blackbodies, hemispherical directional reflectometers, and laser-based scatterometers for measuring the bidirectional distribution function.


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