Simple target acquisition model based on Fλ/d

Ronald Driggers, Glenn Goranson, Steve Butrimas, Gerald Holst, Orges Furxhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The US Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate's Night Vision Integrated Performance Model (NVIPM) is a robust, comprehensive, and sophisticated model that calculates the performance of an infrared imager in the task of target acquisition. The inputs are specifics about the target, atmosphere, optics, detector, electronics, and display and the outputs are probabilities of target detection, recognition, and identification. NVIPM is complicated and takes a good bit of time to master obtaining correct answers based on numerous assumptions and modeling experience. For midwave infrared (MWIR) and longwave infrared (LWIR) sensors, past research has shown that imaging system performance is strongly related to Fλ/d, where F is the f-number, λ is the wavelength, and d is the detector pitch. Fλ/d provides a metric that relates how closely to diffraction-limited performance a sensor operates. We use the past Fλ/d work to develop a simple model that provides probability of target discrimination as a function of range that can be performed with a simple hand calculator or spreadsheet. We compare this model to the NVIPM calculations on 10 very disparate MWIR and LWIR sensors to show robust agreement. We also describe the conditions under which the simple model is valid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023104
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • LWIR
  • MWIR
  • Night Vision Integrated Performance Model
  • infrared imaging system
  • target acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering(all)


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