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Supervisors approve infrared imaging system for ASTREA chopper


Last updated 5/15/2008 at Noon

A 5-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote May 6 approved the sole-source procurement of a forward-looking infrared system for the Sheriff’s Department helicopter fleet.

The supervisors also approved the purchase of accessories and a two-year extended warranty, which brings the total warranty period to three years. General fund revenue will be used for the estimated $304,500 total cost.

The Sheriff’s Department operates nine Aerial Support to Regional Law Enforcement Agencies (ASTREA) helicopters. ASTREA has five forward-looking infrared systems; the Ultra 8500XRTLP manufactured by FLIR Systems, Inc., is operational on ASTREA’s Bell 407 helicopter and four older systems are used interchangeably on ASTREA’s McDonnell-Douglas helicopters.

Two of those forward-looking infrared systems are 12 years old and are considered obsolete and in need of replacement. Forward-looking infrared systems improve operational and safety capabilities by enhancing surveillance and rescue operations when directing ground forces or when locating suspects or victims at night.

The Ultra 8500XRTLP measures nine inches and weighs 29 pounds. It provides high-resolution digital infrared thermal imaging and provides high picture quality in extreme temperature and low contrast environments.

An operator can easily discern objects from individuals, and the Ultra 8500XRTLP incorporates a laser pointer to find and direct deputies to a target. The Ultra 8500XRTLP can also be used in conjunction with a moving map system to navigate to a position quickly and locate sites of concern, and it can track a moving vehicle.

Because FLIR Systems, Inc., manufactured all of the existing infrared systems used in ASTREA helicopters, the sole-source procurement of the new Ultra 8500XRTLP will allow the Sheriff’s Department to maintain compatibility and will reduce pilot and maintenance training requirements.


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