Sen. Shaheen views FLIR’s military tech

Nashua-based technology firm touts revolutionary imaging tools

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup Jamie Dery, a systems general manager at FLIR Systems in Nashua, describes a prototype of a newly developed thermal imaging device as part of Shaheen's tour of the firm Monday. Behind them is marketing director Jim Hands.

NASHUA – Newly developed high-tech instruments capable of detecting numerous targets from methane gas and water leaks to missing children and enemy soldiers, even in pitch darkness, were on display Monday for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s tour of FLIR Systems in Nashua.

Led through several departments by FLIR executives, Shaheen watched men and women at work in labs and viewed demonstrations of several FLIR products, including its newly developed Black Hornet personal reconaissance system.

Geared toward members of the military, the Black Hornet, which closely resembles a tiny helicopter, allows soldiers to “detect and identify threats day and night” by launching the device wherever they are.

Shaheen, D-N.H., said her visit, toward the end of which she addressed ongoing cybersecurity threats, specifically the “phishing” emails that members of her staff have recently received, allowed her to see up close and in person products that New Hampshire-based firms like FLIR are developing to aid, and protect, law enforcement and military personnel.

A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who helped craft the annual defense bill currently awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature, Shaheen said some of the technology she viewed Monday is mentioned in the proposed defense bill.

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup FLIR Systems technician Sean Patno demonstrates to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen how thermal imaging technology can detect electrical problems and gas or propane leaks during Shaheen's tour of the Nashua firm Monday.

“I’ve been aware of the technology, but hadn’t seen it demonstrated until today,” she said, adding that she is “very pleased” that some of the measures in the defense bill “will allow our state and workforce to continue to make these important contributions.”

Addressing in a separate interview the cybersecurity issue in her office, Shaheen said they turned “one situation” over to authorities to look into.

“We’ve heard this is widespread … it’s a very big issue, and it’s something we need to address in a bipartisan way,” Shaheen said. “It affects both Republicans and Democrats. It’s about our national security.”

With the approach of the mid-term elections, she added, taking prompt action is becoming critical.

Besides getting a hands-on tutorial of FLIR’s Black Hornet, Shaheen also got a good look at the workings of a thermal-imaging “gimbal,” which the firm developed for use on emergency and military vehicles, including watercraft and law enforcement aircraft.

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen peers through a thermal imaging device with the assistance of FLIR Systems general manager Jamie Dery during Shaheen's tour of the Nashua firm Monday.

In February 2017, FLIR won a contract with the U.S. Coast Guard to supply its watercraft with thermal-imaging gimbals, said Jamie Dery, general manager of global services.

Lisa Garavanta, FLIR vice president of government affairs, said it was one of FLIR’s thermal-imaging gimbals – mounted on a Massachusetts State Police aircraft – that detected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in a tarp-covered sailboat in a Watertown, Massachusetts, backyard.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen examines a tiny helicopter-like thermal imaging device called a Black Hornet personal reconaissance system during her tour Monday of FLIR Systems in Nashua, which developed the technology.

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen asks questions of Dave Bursell, vice president of technology at FLIR Systems in Nashua, as they view a testing lab during Shaheen's tour of the firm Monday.