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Photonics mast

Photonics mast

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A photonics mast is a sensor similar in concept to a submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

A periscope is an instrument for observation from a concealed position. In its simplest form it consists of a tube with mirrors at each end set parallel to each other at a 45-degree angle....

, except that it doesn't require a periscope tube thus freeing design space during
construction and limiting risks of water leakage in the event of damage. A photonics mast replaces the mechanical, line-of-sight
Line-of-sight propagation
Line-of-sight propagation refers to electro-magnetic radiation or acoustic wave propagation. Electromagnetic transmission includes light emissions traveling in a straight line...

 viewing system with digital equipment, similar to a digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

 array, and it has fewer locational and dimensional constraints than a traditional periscope.

Unlike a periscope, it need not be located directly above its user, and it requires only a small pressure hull
Submarine hull
The term light hull is used to describe the outer hull of a submarine, which houses the pressure hull, providing hydrodynamically efficient shape, but not holding pressure difference...

 penetration for cabling. This allows the photonics mast to be contained entirely within the sail
Sail (submarine)
In naval parlance, the sail or fin of a submarine is the tower-like structure found on the dorsal surface of submarines...

 of the submarine and means the control room need not be placed directly below the sail.

A photonics mast operates by rising above the water similarly to a telescoping
Telescoping (mechanics)
Telescoping in mechanics describes the movement of one part sliding out from another, lengthening an object from its rest state. In modern equipment, this is often done by hydraulics....

 car antenna and provides information through an array of sensors, such as high definition
High-definition video
High-definition video or HD video refers to any video system of higher resolution than standard-definition video, and most commonly involves display resolutions of 1,280×720 pixels or 1,920×1,080 pixels...

Night vision
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

 and thermographic
Thermographic camera
A thermographic camera or infrared camera is a device that forms an image using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light...

 cameras. Images and information can be sent to display panels for analysis. The photonics mast can also support the navigation, electronic warfare
Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly...

, and communications functions of a conventional optical periscope mast.

In the UK, the optronic mast was tested on the in 1998. The modern currently under construction are each fitted with two optronic masts, produced by Thales Optronics
Thales Optronics
Thales Optronics is a major unit of Thales Group and has three main subsidiaries, Thales Optronics Ltd. , Thales Optronique SA and Thales Optronics B.V....


Use by United States Navy

In 2004, the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 began fitting photonics masts to s.

According to the US Navy:

In Virginia-class boats, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two Photonics Masts that house color, high-resolution black and white, and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. With the removal of the barrel periscopes, the ships’ control room
Control room
A control room is a room serving as an operations centre where a facility or service can be monitored and controlled. Examples include:*in television production, the master control is the technical hub of a broadcast operation common among most over-the-air television stations, television networks...

 has been moved down one deck and away from the hull’s curvature, affording it more room and an improved layout that provides the commanding officer
Commanding officer
The commanding officer is the officer in command of a military unit. Typically, the commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as he sees fit, within the bounds of military law...

 with enhanced situational awareness.

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