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Developed by Safran Electronics & Defense, the IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) are IR passive surveillance systems designed for automatic multiple target detection and tracking on combat aircraft. Unlike radars, they are totally passive, insensitive to jamming and guarantee absolute discretion for airborne missions. For example, Safran has developed the IR Search and Track channel of the Front Sector Optronics equipping the Rafale. The IR Search and Track channel uses sophisticated processing algorithms for the automatic detection and tracking of airborne threats and targets on the ground.
The "front sector optronics" (FSO) system is a passive electro-optical sensor developed for the Rafale multirole fighter. Safran Electronics & Defense is responsible for the infrared search & track (IRST) and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) part of the FSO, while Thales provides the daytime video channel and laser rangefinder. Using those two optronic channels, the FSO provides day/night, long-range detection, recognition and identification of air, sea and land targets. The FSO does not emit any radiation and is insensitive to jamming. Fully integrated in the aircraft's nav-attack system, it provides tactical information and target engagement.
Its infrared capacities are essential during night flights, in particular for long-range target recognition.