Interview by Curtis Hand
While the coffee is brewing in a machine for someone’s cup somewhere, Maritime Security & Defence had a prime opportunity to interview Michel Hochner, the director of business development and product marketing at Ophir Optics. Michel held different leadership positions in the sales and marketing department of Ophir Optics over the last 25 years, along with an MSc in Applied Physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Maritime Security & Defence (MSD): What are some of the physical challenges and considerations when developing lenses and devices for electro-optics in a naval / maritime environment?
Michel Hochner (Hochner): The maritime environment is certainly the harshest for any electro-optic system. Salt water and high wind combined with increased vibration and shock require extreme durability and the highest level of environmental sealing. Ophir meets this challenge with its high-durability (hard carbon) lens coatings, proven lens element sealing, and ruggedized optics.
MSD: How do Ophir’s lenses give naval ships an advantage – such as Ophir’s IR continuous zoom lenses in a naval / maritime setting?
Hochner: Ophir’s lenses give ships an advantage by providing crisp, focused images across the full zoom range. Additionally, Ophir lenses offer an MTF close to the diffraction limit to maximize detection, recognition and identification of targets for any given focal length. Fast zoom and focus provide mission critical imagery quickly and accurately.
Ophir’s continuous zoom lenses provide unparalleled concentricity and focus across the full zoom range. This allows the operator to maintain situational awareness of targets of interest during operations. The durability of the Ophir designs provides for continued system performance in the harsh maritime environment with ruggedized optics and high-durability (hard-carbon) coatings.
MSD: How is Ophir able to quickly change its field of view (FOV) for naval lenses and how does this compare to others on the defence market?
Hochner: Ophir designed and developed continuous zoom technology with unparalleled concentricity and quick zoom movement.
The ability to maintain focus across the full zoom range allows operators to keep situational awareness during FOV changes.
Some other lenses in the defense market use two- or three-FOV systems that require refocus after an FOV change.
MSD: Why are LWIR and MWIR lenses used by navies for different missions?
Hochner: Long-wave infrared is attenuated by moisture in the atmosphere much more than mid-wave infrared. Because of the high moisture content in the maritime environment, navies prefer MWIR for long-range surveillance missions. LWIR is typically used for shorter range missions and is commonly found in handheld and some weapon-mounted systems.
MSD: How are long range lenses – especially Infrared – affected or challenged at sea? What are some of the solutions?
Hochner: Shock, vibration and the salt spray environment are the ultimate challenges to any optics manufacturer. Ophir has met those challenges with an engineering design team that created hard coatings, ruggedized optics and shock and vibration tested long-range lenses which enable unprecedent MTBF.
MSD: How do the optical challenges, components and considerations for naval strike missiles (NSM) and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) differ?
Hochner: Missile ordnance with infrared imaging seekers is a unique challenge. Naval Strike missiles and Surface-to-air missiles have different physical requirements. NSMs are typically larger than their SAM cousins, but both optical designs need to meet the requirements of high-speed heat load and typically long storage times.
Ophir offers customized optical components such as domes, mirrors and Cassegrain telescopes, which are essential to the effectiveness of guided missiles, making it possible to acquire and track ground and air targets (NSM and SAM), enable missile guidance detection and recognition, supporting robust imaging detecting systems.
MSD: Toda Raba, Michel…