Infrared Beacon

IR Beacon

Long Life
Rugged Reliability
Multiple Modulation Modes

IR Beacons for the Military

Given our team’s experience in the design and development of EO/IR sensors, detectors, and simulator’s, Rock West was approached by a US Government customer to evaluate Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) technologies for use in identifying personnel from long standoff aerial surveillance. Our relationship with IFF is not mere book knowledge and theory. Rock West Solutions put pens to paper, evaluated commercial off-the-shelf infrared technologies, and designed, modeled, and prototyped an IFF beacon to support our partners in the military and eventually in the commercial sector. We believe our contribution is critical to national security.


Defense. Build a prototype high radiance, small form factor, long life modulated beacon for use in the MWIR and LWIR, with extremely low radiance leakage in the visible and NIR bands.

Previous Limiting Technology:

No low cost, high performance MWIR or LWIR beacons available on the market for use in personnel or vehicle identification or tracking.


Design long life drive electronics, along with radiance emission control to meet spatial and spectral performance objectives


Rock West Solutions is extremely proud to have designed and developed a compact, low-power infrared beacon that provides a reliable IFF solution for our clients. Our prototype development was successful due to our understanding and hands-on program experience that leveraged our team’s work on:

  • Infrared signatures source and backgrounds radiance, emissivity, and emission modeling and simulation;
  • Infrared radiance physics, relative sources’ signal-to-noise, and radiation flux modeling;
  • Source, spectral filters, and electronics technology trade studies;
  • Low power analog electronics design and implementation; and
  • Customer concept-of-operations requirements and goals.

Our prototype infrared beacons met the logistical operational needs for both IFF and tagging and tracking missions. We designed them with ample battery power and multiple modulation modes to ensure long life and rugged reliability in the field. For example, our beacon had a seven-hour continuous operating period on batteries with an observation range of more than two miles from an airborne platform using an MWIR FLIR. Observers viewed the high contrast beacon, beside vehicles and personnel in the test region. Visible, NIR, and LWIR cameras were used to ensure the IFF beacon did not leak radiance into those bands for unintended detection.

Our prototype beacon provided long range observation of personnel and equipment in a custom infrared band that was selected to provide maximum contrast among terrestrial objects. In addition, our infrared IFF beacon has the potential to be adapted for a wide range of applications. Among its many exceptional attributes are the following:

  • Radiance apparent temperatures from 1600K to 2000K
  • 2-mile demonstrated observation range in MWIR, at its lowest operating power
  • 120-degree radiance cone
  • 7-hour run time between recharging or replacing batteries
  • Dependable 10,000-hour lifetime source
  • Modulation at 0.5, 1, and 2 Hertz, with observable modulation depth
  • Push button manual blinking for coded emissions
  • Interchangeable spectral filters to control and tailor emission from the visible to the LWIR

Our IFF beacon’s custom control electronics were powered by 7.4-volt Li-Ion battery, but operate in the 4.5 to 15 volt range. This enables the beacon to be powered by a series of grocery store batteries, an automobile power system, or other readily available power source. Our design incorporates power management during modulation and sleep periods for extended battery life. The IFF beacon was integrated into a compact package that was tested in helmet mounted, vehicle roof, ground deployed configurations. RF tag triggers, structure mounted

Area of Specialization:

EO/IR Sensors