Significant advances in sensor performance modelling have been made by the NATO defence community and several of these models have now acquired a level of maturity that enables deployment in (semi-)operational applications. Although the features of the models vary with the specific application, all of these include a representation of the observation chain (background – target – propagation – sensor – signal processing – decision process). These Electro-Optical Tactical Decision Aids (EO-TDAs) also share the feature of aiming to provide operationally relevant information about sensor performance in theatre. However, the theatre itself can significantly reduce the sensor performance below the theoretical (maximum) performance, due to adverse weather conditions, severe and complex clutter, and other environmental effects. With the deployment of EO-TDAs in theatre, there is thus a need to assess the environmental limitations, to identify the most stressing factors, and if possible, to suggest mitigation of these effects with the aim to acquire the environmental advantage.
As the NATO defense community depends more and more on electro-optical sensors for classification and identification of threats, it is important to increase awareness of EO-TDA performance and limitations and to leverage member country investments in models that assess EO-TDA performance and provide guidance to the warfighter on his sensor’s capabilities under specific environmental conditions.
The interested nations will study the relation between the environment and the performance of EO-TDAs, with the aim to characterize the variability in performance, to provide advice on mitigating adverse weather effects or alternatively, to exploit environmental effects to gain a tactical advantage in theatre.