FLIR Systems AN/AAQ-22

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The AN/AAQ-22 is a family of advanced sensor turrets and the successor of the FLIR Systems AN/AAQ-21.


Company designations

Star Safire I

Many UH-60Qs and early HH-60Ls carry FLIR Systems’ Star Safire I stabilized surveillance turrets mounted in their nose, offering high magnification viewing and infrared sensors.

Star Safire II

New HH-60Ls have the AN/AAQ-22 Star Safire II, with improved sensors and laser rangefinding/targeting options. Rotor and Wing reports that during one night mission in Afghanistan, an HH-60L crew was asked to use its turret to identify a target that was too indistinct for the systems on its escorting AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. A program is underway to equip all US Army MEDEVAC UH-60Q Blackhawks with Star Safire II turrets. This will give them the ability to operate by day or night across a wider range of weather conditions, extend their search and rescue capabilities, and offer a tactical capability boost for their formations. The Star Safire II was superseded by the Star Safire III. One of the evolving turret sensor systems derived from FLIR Systems' Safire (Shipborne Airborne Forward-looking InfraRed Equipment), the Sea Star Safire II (introduced in 2001) and III models are based on the airborne AN/AAQ-36 model. Both have been fully marinised with water-tight seals, special corrosion-proof coatings and an internal heater, with an anti-ice feature as an option.

Star Safire III

The Star Safire III version is the most advanced, some 800 are used on 35 reconnaissance and surveillance platforms. Star Safire uses five axis stabilization and high power optics, including Super Narrow field of view, to support operation at extended range. The payload can be configured with 6 (Safire III) or 7 (Safire HD) sensors including 3rd Generation FLIR, CCTV with haze penetration filters, I2CCD, colour spotter scope, laser pointer and illuminator, and laser rangefinder. The Sea Star Safire III ia a long range, stabilized model for maritime applications, such as surface vessels.

Star Safire HD

The Star SAFIRE HD system uses a 1,500 mm focal length for mid-wave IR and coaxial “two-in-one” telescope for the visible wavelengths sensors. The system facilitates high precision geo-pointing, directing the payload to look at exact geographic coordinates. Feeds from multiple sensors can be fused into a single image, to obtain optimal contrast and presentation of hidden details, generating up to x3 more information compared to conventional NTSC systems. Multiple video feeds from the different sensors can be transmitted simultaneously over a single datalink for further processing, storage and display. The system carries both wide-area and narrow-beam covert laser illuminators to support covert scene illumination and target pointing.

Military designations



Safire LRF, delivered to US Marine Corps for its UH-1N Iroquois helicopters.


Safire-LP, delivered to US Air Force for its MH-60G Blackhawk CSAR fleet.


Star Safire I LRF delivered to US Marine Corps for its UH-1N Iroquois helicopters.

AN/AAQ-22D Brite Star

By adding sensors to the AN/AAQ-22 family of turrets, the surveillance system has evolved into a targeting system called Brite Star and designated AN/AAQ-22D by the US Marine Corps. Fully backwards-compatible with all mountings of the Safire family, Brite Star is being retrofitted to US Marine Corps UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters and will be 'cross-decked' to its UH-1Y successor. The -D can be upgraded to -E standard.

AN/AAQ-22E Brite Star

Developed from the SAFIRE/Star SAFIRE AN/AAQ-21/22 family, the Brite Star combines a high-resolution 3-5 μm indium antimonide (InSb) FPA IR imager, a CCD TV camera and an eye safe laser designator/range finder. It is a cost-effective, military-qualified, multisensor laser designation system that incorporates an advanced third-generation thermal imager, a TV camera, a laser designator and a laser designator/rangefinder. Options include an autotracker, a target accumulator; laser spot tracker, digital video output and night vision goggle compatibility. The Brite Star is used on the UH-1N/Y. The Brite Star DP is an export version, and it is essentially the same sensor fit as the Brite Star II, but with less capability in some areas including magnification and range performance.

FLIR Systems AN/AAQ-36

Star Safire II, used by US Air Force in its MC-130H aircraft.

Supported platforms

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