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SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation Laser Defense Eyewear

The Growing Threat of Lasers A Wicked Threat to Aircrew Effective Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP) The Complex Marketplace for Aircrew Laser Eyewear Protection Thinking About the Future for Aircrew Laser Eye Protection

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation Laser Defense Eyewear

Contents Foreword 2 Mary Dub, Editor

The Growing Threat of Lasers

The Growing Threat of Lasers A Wicked Threat to Aircrew Effective Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP) The Complex Marketplace for Aircrew Laser Eyewear Protection Thinking About the Future for Aircrew Laser Eye Protection

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media

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Kristin Rauschenbach, PerriQuest Defence Research Enterprises

Attacking the Problem Laser Physics Vision Filter Technology Protective Eyewear Flexible Research & Development About Perriquest

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

A Wicked Threat to Aircrew

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

How Serious is this Risk to Commercial and Military Flight Crew? The Danger Even 90 Miles Away From the Source Laser The Impact on Pilots The Special Hazard of Green Laser Pointers

Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Mary Dub Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles. Š 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

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Mary Dub, Editor

Effective Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP)

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Don McBarnet, Technology Writer

Other Protective and Information Carrying Devices: Masks and Helmets Working to Provide the Best JSAM Working With Different Types of Aircraft The US Air Force Policy Directive and Classified Specifications for Laser Eye Protection

The Complex Marketplace for 10 Aircrew Laser Eyewear Protection Don McBarnet, Technology Writer

Key Factors That Need to be Considered for ALEP Ruggedness is an Important Military Quality for Eyewear The Important Issue of Color Distortion From ALEP The Capabilities of Block 1 ALEP JCAS Joint Close Air Support JHMCS Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System Compatible ALEP Spectacles

Thinking About the Future for Aircrew Laser Eye Protection

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Mary Dub, International Security Writer

National and International Law and Conventions Limiting the Use of Lasers The International Legal Framework Aircraft Cockpit Shields Laser Use as a Weapon The Bottom Line: More and More Effective Aircrew Laser Protective Eyewear Required

References 14 WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

Foreword A

BLINDING flash of laser illumination that

to monitor on helmets and displays and the added

dazzles and potentially blinds aircrew while

presence of night vision goggles, breathing masks

flying commercial or military aircraft is the theme

and protection from a hostile environment make the

of this Special Report. With the ready availability

design task one of high complexity. There are also

of laser pointers with devastating strength at a

issues around the types of coating or materials from

moderate price, this leisure ‘play thing’ could

which the eyewear is made. The critical dilemma is

have serious consequences for the sight of a pilot

that the greater the protective capability of the product

without laser defense eyewear.

the less clear the vision necessary to fly the plane and

The opening article looks at the growing threat

see other data.

of lasers to pilots, military personnel, police and

The marketplace for laser protective eyewear is

transportation workers and points out that a laser

highly segmented. What are the key criteria that

beam striking a cockpit during takeoff or landing can

potential purchasers need to consider when assessing

jeopardize the lives of pilot, crew and passengers.

laser protective eyewear? These criteria are discussed

Traditional laser safety eyewear, typically, does

in this piece.

not block all three of the commonly used bands

It would be nice to think that in the future, national and

of visible laser illumination – red, green and blue –

international legislation might halt or disrupt the flow of

is uncomfortable to wear and, most importantly,

lasers onto the market. But such a thought is utterly

severely limits color vision, making it difficult to use

unrealistic. Lasers are being used and developed for

with computer screens, instrument panels and similar

use as effective conventional weapons. As a result,

devices. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, founder of PerriQuest

the need for protection for the crews of aircraft from

came up with a solution to this problem. PerriQuest

the devastating consequences of their effect has

Laser Defense Eyewear preserves color discrimination

never been more urgent. New developments in

for the wearer, allowing users to view instrumentation

filters and coating and materials science may

and navigational aids clearly and effectively through

offer better protection in the future. Meanwhile,

protective lenses.

products on the market can offer a useful and

The second article assesses the extent of the threat from lasers to commercial and military pilots and the

effective protection from the devastating threat of blindness from laser illumination.

way it can cause blindness for aircrew. Designing an eyewear product for military aircrew is no simple task. The range of information aircrews need

Mary Dub Editor

Mary Dub has written about international security in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East as a television broadcaster and journalist and has a Masters degree in War Studies from King’s College, London.

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

The Growing Threat of Lasers Kristin Rauschenbach, PerriQuest Defence Research Enterprises

Hand-held lasers can cause temporary blindness and permanent eye damage

H

AND-HELD L ASERS emitting red, green, and blue visible light beams are proliferating swiftly. These lasers are a growing threat to pilots, military personnel, police, and transportation workers. Since these devices have a myriad of legitimate uses in fields such as medicine, astronomy, entertainment, and business, their market will continue to grow and availability will increase. In addition to inexpensive laser pointers, the components to build high-power lasers are readily available, and powerful handheld lasers are easily assembled from these components. Pilots are especially vulnerable. A laser beam striking the cockpit during takeoff or landing can jeopardize the lives of pilot, crew, and passengers. Traditional laser safety eyewear designed for medical, manufacturing, and battlefield applications does not typically block all three of the commonly used bands of visible laser illumination – red, green and blue. Also, traditional laser safety eyewear is typically both uncomfortable to wear and unattractive, which results in poor user compliance. More importantly, available laser safety eyewear severely limits color vision, which severely limits usability with computer screens, instrument panels and other devices. PerriQuest founder, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, attending an airline security meeting in 2012, was informed of the problem and approached for a solution. The laser strike problem was well suited to Dr. Perricone’s reputation as an innovator and problem solver. PerriQuest was asked to apply its unique approach to research and development to find a solution. The challenge was to rapidly bring to market the world’s first eyewear that protects the wearer from the serious and expanding problem of multiple-color laser strikes that impair vision. The visual dazzle caused by a laser flash can render the victim unable to see clearly for

many minutes. Temporary blindness and long term eye damage are a very real possibility. In addition to blocking all three laser color light frequencies, PerriQuest Laser Defense Eyewear provides the only solution to the laser-strike problem that preserves color discrimination for the wearer, allowing users to view instrumentation and navigational aids clearly and effectively through the protective lenses. The laser risk has risen dramatically in recent years as laser technology has advanced and commercial products have become readily available. Originally bulky, expensive, and primarily used in laboratories, new technology has enabled manufacture of lasers that are small, affordable, and relatively powerful. Semiconductor lasers are compact and found in countless consumer and industrial products. Laser diodes are found in laser pointers, laser printers, CD/DVD players, DVD burners etc. In 2012 high-power green and blue laser diodes began to appear in other commercial products, rivaling the output of larger industrial lasers.

Commercial airline pilots are being targeted with increasing frequency. News reports have publicized the problem. Unfortunately the news has also raised awareness in people interested in harassment, disruption, or worse. The trend line shows incidents increasing. A dramatic incident in Egypt in 2013 illustrated how lasers are proliferating. During the Tahrir Square protests against the Morsi government, Cairo protesters with laser pointers targeted a military helicopter. Images of the helicopter hit by hundreds of laser beams were broadcast on Al Jazeera and news media around the world. Military personnel around the world are exposed to civilians as well as combatants. A laser in the hands of a single belligerent individual has the potential to cause serious disruption and harm. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

More than 3960 laser

the laboratory, people can wear eye protection that is appropriate for the frequency of the laser they are working with. Unfortunately, outside of the lab, the light frequency is not as predictable. A laser’s narrow frequency emission contributes to the enhanced glare, visual distraction and visual after-effects associated with laser strikes. At the same time, the narrow frequency makes it possible to carefully-engineer a filter solution to reduce the laser intensity at the narrow frequency while allowing the surrounding frequencies of the spectrum to pass, resulting in good color discrimination for the wearer.

strike incidents were reported by commercial pilots in 2013, evidence of the 1100% increase reported in the last 10 years by the FAA. More than 35 pilots have required medical attention as a result

HELICOPTER STRUCK BY MULTIPLE COLOR LASER BEAMS BY PROTESTERS IN EGYPT

Attacking the Problem In order to address the laser strike problem, PerriQuest engaged in a rigorous research and development initiative. The company recognized that the problem has multiple dimensions so it would require expertise in multiple disciplines. •L  aser physics – understanding the properties of laser light; •B  iology – understanding human vision and the perception of light and color; •T  echnology – developing filter technology that is effective and appropriate; •P  roduct design – incorporating the technology into a product that is practical; •P  eople – understanding people and scenarios in which the solution will be used. PerriQuest assembled a cross-disciplinary team of specialists to attack the laser problem. Dr. Perricone recognized from the outset that success would require the kind of innovative thinking that can occur when talented individuals from different fields collaborate on a shared mission. The outcome is PerriQuest’s world-first Laser Defense Eyewear product, protecting pilot vision and visibility through dangerous single and multiple-color laser strikes.

Laser Physics The most common hand-held lasers emit a focused beam of light in a narrow frequency of the red, green, or blue part of the spectrum. In

Vision Human perception of light and color is a specialty area of scientific study. From a practical standpoint, color is an important channel through which humans derive meaning in everyday interaction. Color vision contributes to perception of visual contrast, acuity and depth perception. It’s easy to take for granted, but color is vital to our use of most devices and instrument panels, etc. It is important that an effective laser protection solution maintains as much color fidelity as possible for the person wearing protective eyewear. Many kinds of eyewear distort colors. This is not acceptable in a solution that will be used in demanding situations where color is important and potentially meaningful. In addition, a solution must be functional in different lighting conditions, day or night, so ambient light transmission requirements are also a factor. Protective eyewear for laser protection has existed for specialty use, but those solutions are not appropriate for everyday use. The most apparent issue with traditional laser protective eyewear is that it blocks not only the laser frequency, but much of the surrounding visible spectrum, and, in many cases, completely obscures color perception. Scenes viewed through traditional protective eyewear solutions appear completely red, blue, or brown, depending on the particular laser color being blocked. In addition, bulky goggles, while appropriate for the battlefield, are less appropriate for non-combat pilot scenarios or routine military police duty.

Filter Technology The challenge for a laser protection solution is effectively to filter out the most common red, green, and blue laser frequencies, while maintaining color fidelity for the rest of the color spectrum. The wearer must be able to look at instruments and see the intended instrument colors. Considerable research and development effort was required in order to reconcile these seemingly contradictory requirements. PerriQuest Color-Balance Technology™ maintains color fidelity better than any other 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

available protective filter. In addition, this new technology is specially engineered for use in thin and lightweight applications. This allows the filter technology to be used in the design of products that are smaller, lighter, and more suitable for continuous use.

Protective Eyewear PerriQuest’s release of laser-defense eyewear in September 2015 marked a milestone in the availability of laser protection solutions. PerriQuest patent pending laser-defense eyewear provides a large visual field and is specifically engineered for demanding requirements including color balance, color discrimination, depth perception, and high visual acuity. PerriQuest laser-defense eyewear attenuates all three commonly used visible laser wavelengths bands, red (635 nm), green (532 nm) and blue (445 nm). The eyewear is available in a night version, which allows the most ambient light to pass through, and a day version, with sunglasstype transmission qualities. Both versions are housed in titanium frames, which are strong, durable, and comfortable to wear. Protective eyewear works only when being worn, so the popular aviator-style of the eyewear is intended to maximize the likelihood of these glasses actually being used.

Flexible Research & Development PerriQuest has perfected a flexible approach to providing research and development services, optimized to deliver efficient, high-impact, hightechnology solutions in a timely manner. Our innovation process contrasts with conventional thinking, protecting legacy product lines, or following rigid corporate technology roadmaps. We focus directly on well-defined, user-inspired problems, yet we draw on basic science and fundamental understanding to derive solutions. This is in contrast to the linear approach common in conventional large research organizations, which typically separate basic science exploration as an early activity. In the linear approach, research outcomes are later filtered, and often much later passed on to separate product development teams. The traditional process is slow, and frequently the solutions are outdated before they emerge from development.

PerriQuest quickly assembles teams representing the best and brightest in the relevant fields when undertaking an R&D project. PerriQuest teams are often highly cross-disciplinary. We employ a proven project management approach to encourage efficient collaborative development and overcome “barriers-to-understanding” that frequently hamper cross-disciplinary developments. Our relatively small and nimble teams are quickly able to evolve within both the problem space and the solution space as the project moves forward— a frequent occurrence in complex technology developments. A major benefit is a significantly faster cycle from problem definition to completed deployable solution. And the process is highly cost effective. PerriQuest’s disciplined, proven approach to the research and development services is coupled with a proven track record of successful innovation, unlike any other research and development company of its kind.

About Perriquest PerriQuest Defense Research Enterprises is dedicated to the creation, development and deployment of optical, biological, chemical and electronic technologies that protect the public and its military forces from emerging threats. PerriQuest has broad experience in military and commercial aviation applications, as well as technologies to enhance the capabilities and effectiveness of military personnel. Highlights of PerriQuest past developments include innovative technologies for detecting and alerting airmen to aircraft vehicle threats, reducing radar and RF reflection of military vehicles, providing aircraft countermeasures and IR-signature reduction, enabling propulsion engine ignition using a plasma source, and systemic approaches to improve soldier wellness and performance enhancement. PerriQuest Defence Research Enterprises 639 Research Parkway Meriden, CT 06450 U.S.A. Tel: +1-203-935-0315 Fax:+1 203-935-0314 email: info@perriquest.com Web: http://www.perriquest.com WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

A Wicked Threat to Aircrew Mary Dub, Editor

“Krypton: Now featuring solid state diode technology, the Krypton is the world’s most powerful green handheld laser. The unbroken beam of unbelievably green light is strong enough to point out individual stars in the sky, and be seen in return by astronauts in space. $999.95 900mW+” Wicked Lasers1

The unprotected human eye is extremely sensitive to laser radiation and can be permanently damaged by direct or reflected beams

The clear and present danger presented to commercial and military aircrew from laser pointers like the one advertised on the Internet above and made in South Korea or China needs to be taken seriously. What is the danger? Lasers are an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The danger is that aircrew at the point of takeoff or landing could be so seriously affected by a laser beam pointer directed at the aircraft as a criminal prank that the control of the aircraft is compromised and could crash. What is the effect of laser illumination? The unprotected human eye is extremely sensitive to laser radiation and can be permanently damaged by direct or reflected beams. Two specialists writing on this field in the American Academy of Dermatology make the point concisely and with authority. Laser light in the visible and near infrared spectrum 400 - 1400 nm contributes to the so-called “retinal hazard region” and can cause damage to the retina, while wavelengths outside this region (i.e., ultraviolet and far infrared spectrum) are absorbed by the anterior segment of the eye causing damage to the cornea and/or to the lens. The extent of ocular damage is determined by the laser irradiance, exposure duration, and beam size.2 What is worse for the aircrew is that the exact threshold of injury i.e. blind spots or loss of vision, is uncertain.3 The result of this danger is that for military Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP) is mandatory.4

How Serious is this Risk to Commercial and Military Flight Crew? In a report to Congress in 2005, the threat was assessed. Looking specifically at the problem of Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits, Bart Elias the Congressional Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security and Technology5 made the following 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

points. First, he mentions that there is a growing concern among aviation safety experts that the ubiquity and low cost of handheld laser devices could increase the number of incidents where pilots are distracted or temporarily incapacitated during critical phases of flight. Secondly, he says that while none of these incidents has been linked to terrorism, security officials have expressed concern that terrorists may seek to acquire and use higher-powered lasers to, among other things, incapacitate pilots. Given recent events in Paris this should be noted.

The Danger Even 90 Miles Away From the Source Laser The report to Congress quotes the example in the United States of one flight crewmember who reported seeing afterimages after being hit by a green laser from a laser light show in Las Vegas, NV. At the time they were flying at 31,000 feet about 90 miles south of the laser source. As lasers remain powerful over large distances, a laser pointer can expose pilots to radiation levels above those considered to be flight safe for takeoffs and landings, when seen from distances of up to two miles. More powerful lasers, sometimes used in outdoor light shows, can distract pilots and affect vision from considerable distances.6

The Impact on Pilots The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States documented two cases in which pilots sustained eye injuries and were incapacitated during critical phases of flight. In one of these events, the pilot experienced a burning sensation and tearing. A subsequent eye examination revealed “multiple flash burns” in the pilot’s cornea. In a few other documented incidents, pilots provided safety reports indicating that injuries were sustained from exposure to laser lights. In one case, a co-pilot received


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

burns on the outer coating of the eye and broken blood vessels. In another incident, a pilot was struck several times by a laser beam and was diagnosed as having a “burned retina.�7

The Special Hazard of Green Laser Pointers The report makes a special point about the particular danger of green colored lasers. The recent rash of laser incidents may be attributable, in part, to the increasing availability and reduced cost of green laser pointers. Green lasers pose particular hazards to pilots because they are perceived to be about 35 times brighter than equivalently powered red lasers, due to the fact that humans are so much more sensitive to green light.8 The report goes on to recommend that eye protection is used by pilots and aircrew to protect their eyesight and to protect the aircraft from danger.

Green lasers pose particular hazards to pilots because they are perceived to be about 35 times brighter than equivalently powered red lasers

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

Effective Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP) Don McBarnet, Technology Writer

The complex task is to work laser protection into the range of other products that pilots wear that provide other types of protection

This article is going to offer a snapshot of the range and diversity of demands on the designer of military Aircrew Laser Eyewear Protection. The general protection for military and commercial aircrew is a longstanding project. They are protected against a range of military hazards including lasers. Having acknowledged the new hazard of laser illumination to pilots during flight, the complex task is to work laser protection into the range of other products that pilots wear that provide other types of protection. Aircrews have to fly the aircraft while wearing ALEP and other protective masks and this increases the complexity of the design specifications for any high quality ALEP.

Other Protective and Information Carrying Devices: Masks and Helmets It was the conflict in Bosnia9 that brought the need to protect aircrew from the threat of laser attack in the early 1990s to the fore. This was the catalyst for laser eye protection for aircrew. Spectacles are of high value. But if the laser protection has to be integrated into a unit that includes a breathing mask, the specifications become more complex. As Brian Taylor of the North Wales-based Thales Optics, a longstanding player in laser eye protection, said at the time: “The marketplace is now catching up with the threat.” Thales, then Pilkington Optics, delivered laser eye protection spectacles to the US Air Force in a quick-turnaround contract following USAF chief of staff Gen Michael Ryan’s call for increased aircrew protection in the wake of laser incidents in Bosnia. “It’s an evolving technology,” Taylor adds of laser eye protection. “The customer tends to drive it forward, and we’re being pushed as far as technology will allow.”

Working to Provide the Best JSAM The complex task of integrating different sorts of protection in one unit is inherent in designing for the USAF. One USAF-led project 8 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

in particular promised to benefit all the US services. The Joint Service Aircrew Mask (JSAM) was intended to integrate nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) and gravity, or g-force, protection. This would bridge the often criticized commonality and logistic gaps between the branches – as well as provide a single system to do the work of at least two.10 Gentex of Rancho Cucamonga, California, was one of two US firms developing prototypes during the project’s product definition and risk reduction (PDRR) phase, as was Science Applications International (SAIC) of Abingdon, Maryland. The performance parameters asked for by the US government were demanding. The levels of protection prescribed under the key performance parameters for the mask were, according to senior systems engineer John Rogers: “chemical: provide eye and respiratory protection with a quantitative fit factor (QFF) of 20,000 against a vapor challenge of 20,000mgmin/m³. (QFF is the ratio of agent concentration outside the mask to the concentration of agent inside the mask.) Also, it should protect against liquid and/or vapor chemical agent permeation through system materials for 16h; biological: provide eye and respiratory protection against biological agents with a QFF of 50,000; anti-g protection: when integrated with a “pressure breathing for g system’’ such as COMBAT EDGE (Combined Advanced Technology Enhanced Design G-Ensemble), to provide an effective mask seal up to 9g for 30s”.

Working With Different Types of Aircraft The systems engineers working on the military flight masks also had potentially to build variants to deal with different helmets and head up displays. First, the system must interface with helmet-mounted systems such as night vision goggles (NVGs) and aircraft weapon systems such as the Boeing AH-64 Apache’s Integrated Helmet and Display Sight System (IHADSS) and the Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche’s Helmet Integrated Display and


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

Sighting System. “These helmet-mounted systems, particularly the AH-64 IHADSS, complicated integration because of their very small eye relief,’’ says Rogers, referring to the distance from the cornea of the eye.”The AH-64 integration challenge may require development of a unique variant,” he adds. There are other military and commercial design constraints. For example, some cockpits are smaller than others. And in addition to interfacing with NVGs and aircraft weapons systems, JSAM must integrate with the extensive array of in-service personal and life support equipment across the US military fleet.

The systems engineers working on the military flight masks also had potentially to build variants to deal with different helmets and head up displays

The US Air Force Policy Directive and Classified Specifications for Laser Eye Protection The US Air Force Policy Directive (2010) updates the JSAM’s design specifications by adding that an effective program requires a general understanding of laser, threats, inherent system hazards, and a coordinated interaction between medical, laser safety experts (bioenvironmental engineers or health physicists), intelligence, aircrew and Aircrew Flight Equipment personnel. The specific levels of laser protection are classified in accordance with information/asset security. Information disclosing specific characteristics of laser protective devices is classified IAW provisions of the Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Security Classification.11

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

The Complex Marketplace for Aircrew Laser Eyewear Protection Don McBarnet, Technology Writer

Although absolute protection for aircrew is the aim, in conflict the opponent is always going to try and present with a strength or capability that cannot be blocked

W

HICH EYE wear protection product to choose and why? This article will offer some criteria for looking at the products in the market. Manufacturers working with national Departments of Defense give their own classified specifications for the exact protective qualities of spectacle, goggle or mask that they want. Meanwhile, there are 21st century COTS products that are increasing in sophistication and protective capability. For a non-specialist writer working with unclassified information, it is clear that the classified work agreed between defense department and prime-contracting specialist may well conceal more about what can be achieved technically than is available in open information. However it is useful to note what is available. The baseline standard for all products for the US military is MIL-STD1425A12. To achieve protection of the eyes from lasers a number of factors need to be known. At least three output parameters of the laser should be acquired: maximum exposure duration, wavelength, and output power (or output irradiance, radiant exposure, or energy) as well as the applicable safe corneal radiant exposure or AEL (Automatic Exposure Limit) for Class 1 from ANSI (American National Standards Limit) Z136.113. In addition, some knowledge of such environmental factors as ambient lighting and the nature of the laser operation may also be required.14 However, although absolute protection for aircrew is the aim, in conflict the opponent is always going to try and present with a strength or capability that cannot be blocked.

Key Factors That Need to be Considered for ALEP Adopting the pathway of the thinking within Military Standard 1425A is one way forward as it reveals the steps that need to be followed to achieve laser protection. The first step is to consider the wavelength of the laser to be blocked from the eye. The wavelength(s) of laser radiation limit 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

the type of eyewear to those containing filters, which greatly reduce or essentially prevent particular wavelength(s) from reaching the eye. Those working in the field emphasise that many lasers emit more than one wavelength and that each wavelength must be considered.15 The next step is to determine radiant exposure. Once this is known the Optical Density (OD) of the lens needs to be determined. The OD is a parameter for specifying the attenuation afforded by a given thickness of a filter. Since laser beam intensities may be a factor of a thousand or a million above safe exposure levels, “per cent transmission� notation can be unwieldy. For instance, goggles with a transmission of 0.000001 per cent can be described as having an OD of 8.0. The following step is the laser filter damage threshold. The material and method of construction of the eyewear are also critical. There are basically two effects which are utilized to selectively attenuate laser wavelengths. Filters are designed to make use of selective spectral absorption by colored glass or plastic or selective reflection from dielectric coatings on glass, or both. The simplest method of fabrication is to use colored glass absorbing filters which are generally the most effective in resisting damage from wear and from very intense laser sources. Unfortunately, most absorbing filters are not casehardened to provide impact resistance. The advantage of using reflective coatings is that they can be designed to reflect selectively a given wavelength while transmitting as much of the rest of the visible as possible.16

Ruggedness is an Important Military Quality for Eyewear The benefits of using one material or process of manufacture or another is that they offer differing qualities of resilience. The advantage of reflective coatings is that they can be designed to reflect selectively a given wavelength while transmitting as much of the rest of the visible as possible. The advantages of using absorbing plastic filter


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

materials are greater impact resistance, lighter weight and ease of molding into curved shapes. The disadvantages are that they are more readily scratched, quality control appears to be more difficult, and the organic dyes used as absorbers are more readily affected by heat and ultraviolet radiation.17

The Important Issue of Color Distortion From ALEP For aircrew in both military and commercial cockpits, the essential dilemma for eye wear design is that the protective feature of the eyewear should not impede the pilot or co-pilot from doing the task of flying the plane in busy commercial areas or in areas of hazard or conflict. This is where the color distortion provided by ALEP can become key. What the USAF calls Block 1 spectacles will minimize temporary effects (e.g., dazzle or glare) and permanent eye damage from lasers in selected wavelengths in the visible, Ultraviolet (UV) and Near Infrared (NIR) regions. Spectacle design provides wide-angle protection against off-axis laser threats and accommodates aviators with and without prescription spectacles. Block 1 spectacles are compatible with all AFE (Airplan Flight Equipment) with the exception of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and NVGs. However, they do distort color quite significantly. Wearing Block 1 ALEP may cause some difficulty in determining the actual color of runway/tower lighting. Green runway threshold/ tower lights may appear yellow while white lights may appear pink. Aircrew should receive

specific training unique to Block 1 to ensure they can identify runway/tower lighting patterns while wearing the device. Block 1 spectacles are not approved for use with NVGs (Night Vision Goggles).18

The Capabilities of Block 1 ALEP Block 1 spectacles will minimize temporary effects (e.g., dazzle or glare) and permanent eye damage from lasers in selected wavelengths in the visible, Ultraviolet (UV) and Near Infrared (NIR) regions. Spectacle design provides wideangle protection against off-axis laser threats and accommodates aviators with and without prescription spectacles. Block 1 spectacles are compatible with all AFE (Aircrew Flight Equipment) with the exception of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System19 and NVGs.

JCAS Joint Close Air Support JHMCS Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System Compatible ALEP Spectacles JCAS Joint Close Air Support spectacles (JHMCS Compatible ALEP Spectacles) implement technologies that reflect or absorb specific laser wavelengths. JCAS will minimize temporary effects e.g., dazzle or glare and permanent eye damage from lasers of selected wavelengths in UV, visible, and NIR. JCAS does not provide vision correction for prescription wearers and is not designed for night use. JCAS spectacles are optimized for day use with 40% JHMCS visor and are compatible with JHMCS helmet/visor/ mask system.20 WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

Thinking About the Future for Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Mary Dub, International Security Writer

The risk of damage to eyes from lasers is so serious and so inhumane that attempts have been made in national and international law to outlaw the leisure and military use of lasers

A

S A writer working as a non-specialist in the field of lasers and eye protection, it is not useful to look into the future and make predictions. However, it is possible to look at strong trends that have brought about the present and throw them forward. The risk of damage to eyes from lasers is so serious and so inhumane that attempts have been made in national and international law to outlaw the leisure and military use of lasers. Within a scientific context, laser use is highly controlled. Real eye protection could only derive from strong controls on the use of lasers and it is here that, in theory, a legal framework could be useful.

National and International Law and Conventions Limiting the Use of Lasers There has been a range of different ways of looking at the protection of military and commercial aircrew by legislation, from the potential eye damage or even blinding radiation from criminal or terrorist illumination by laser pointers or other devices. Some countries, which work within the international legal framework, have made the misuse of laser pointers a crime. On February 14, 2012, US President Obama signed Public Law 11295, the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.” Section 39A was added which makes it a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft.21 The US Patriot Act (P.L. 10756) regarding acts of violence against mass transportation systems as a crime would also be relevant here. Other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, see the hostile use of lasers against vehicle drivers or aircraft as a serious offence.

The International Legal Framework The use of lasers in conflict is prohibited under the Inhumane Weapons Convention. 12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

This is known as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.22 The purpose of the Convention is to ban or restrict the use of specific types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately. Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons (1998) prohibits the use of laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness. The signatories called High Contracting Parties shall not transfer such weapons to any State or nonState entity. But, and this is one weakness of the protocol, it doesn’t prohibit laser systems where blinding is an incidental or collateral effect. However, and this is the important point, the signatories must take all feasible precautions to avoid causing blinding. Powerful though this convention and protocol IV may be, as normative guidance, it has nothing more than moral power against countries which are non-signatories of the Convention or non-state actors who may choose to use these weapons to devastating effect. Even if more countries are encouraged to become signatories to the protocol of the convention, it still leaves the firm onus on the military and commercial aircrew to protect themselves effectively against any potential laser attack.

Aircraft Cockpit Shields The report to Congress on Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits23 considers the option of equipping aircraft cockpit windows with protective glare shields capable of significantly reducing the brightness of a laser shined into the cockpit. However, identifying an optical filter for use as a glare shield that can protect against laser threats across multiple colors without sacrificing some capability to view the outside visual scene, particularly at night, may prove difficult.24 The benefits of a cockpit glare screen would be that they would not


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

laser systems – 100kW laser weapons, that have enough power to knock mortars and rockets from the sky!

The Bottom Line: More and More Effective Aircrew Laser Protective Eyewear Required

block the pilots’ view of cockpit displays and therefore, may have significant advantages over protective eyewear. However, current shields limit the situational awareness to the extent that aircrew laser eyewear is preferable. Another idea for the more distant future might come from military research into the use of special visors whose lightblocking filters would only activate when a laser threat is detected.

Laser Use as a Weapon While the reduction in availability of lasers for civilian use or entertainment in the United States may be more heavily controlled, because of the rule of law, lasers are being developed as weapons. The development of high power laser weapons for use by the US and other militaries is increasingly commonplace. According to Revision 25, military forces worldwide use lasers for many purposes including, range finding, antimissile systems, target designation, ranging of guided munitions and the neutralizing of enemy weapon systems. Increasingly, handheld lasers are used at check-points for crowd control and to temporarily blind or disorient those exhibiting aggressive behaviour. And this is one example of where dismounted soldiers on patrol could benefit from laser protective eyewear. Several large multinational companies are currently developing and expecting to field the next generation

Protecting the sight of military and commercial aircrews now and in the future is essential. One of the current scientific dilemmas is how to retain the protective capabilities of lenses while allowing the transmission of light through them. Laser protective dyes are widely used due to their relative low cost and ability to retain high ballistic properties. While effective, there is a drawback: lenses that protect against multiple wavelengths require the use of two or more dyes which significantly reduces the light transmission of the lens. This makes it darker and therefore less suitable for low light applications.26 In some instances, expensive dielectric coatings are being used instead. These coatings are actually made of a fine stack of layers with different reflective properties. Currently, laser protective dielectric coatings are limited in their use due to their very high cost – a lens with dielectric coatings is roughly 10 to 20 times more expensive than a lens made using laser protective dye.27 One recent advance is the invention by PerriQuest28 of a cost effective precision filter technology that targets and blocks the attacking laser wavelengths, yet passes enough visible light at important wavelengths to ensure good colour discrimination, so that pilots can differentiate colours clearly on illuminated instrumentation and external navigation lights. Research is still taking place but technologies of the future include tunable laser protection to counteract the threat of tunable lasers (lasers which can change their operational wavelength) and to protect against multiple laser threats simultaneously. Also being explored are optical switches and limiters that activate only in the presence of specific laser wavelengths. This lets the protection to stay completely clear until laser protection is needed and allows for excellent visible light transmission.29

WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

References: 1

Wicked Lasers Unit 1010, 10/F 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong 1128-3, Partner’s TowerII #1301, Guro 3-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul, South Korea, 152-880 http://www.wickedlasers.com/krypton

2

http://www.dermatology.org/laser/eyesafety.html#Abstract Laser Safety and the Eye:
Hidden Hazards and Practical Pearls Osama Bader, MD, and Harvey Lui, MD, FRCPC From the Lions Laser Skin Centre, Division of Dermatology,
Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre,
and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Presented at the American Academy of Dermatology
Annual Meeting Poster Session,
Washington, D.C.
February 10-15, 1996 Abstract

3

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11845836 Health Phys. 2002 Mar;82(3):335-47. What is the meaning of threshold in laser injury experiments? Implications for human exposure limits. Sliney DH1, Mellerio J, Gabel VP, Schulmeister K. 2002

4

AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 11-301 VOLUME 4 Certified Current, 17 FEBRUARY 2010 Flying Operations AIRCREW LASER EYE PROTECTION (ALEP) Certified by: HQ USAF/A3O-A (Brig Gen Lyn D. Sherlock) http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a3_5/publication/afi11-301v4/afi11-301v4.pdf

Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits: Background and Possible Options to Address the Threat to Aviation Safety and Security Bart Elias Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS22033.pdf

5

Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits: Background and Possible Options to Address the Threat to Aviation Safety and Security Bart Elias Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS22033.pdf

6

Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits: Background and Possible Options to Address the Threat to Aviation Safety and Security Bart Elias Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS22033.pdf

7

Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits: Background and Possible Options to Address the Threat to Aviation Safety and Security Bart Elias Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS22033.pdf

8

9

Crew protection Invisible menaces 01 MAY, 2001 https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/crew-protection-invisible-menaces-129467/

10

Crew protection Invisible menaces 01 MAY, 2001 https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/crew-protection-invisible-menaces-129467/

11

AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 11-301 VOLUME 4 Certified Current, 17 FEBRUARY 2010 21 FEBRUARY 2008 Flying Operations AIRCREW LASER EYE PROTECTION (ALEP) Certified by: HQ USAF/A3O-A (Brig Gen Lyn D. Sherlock) http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a3_5/publication/afi11-301v4/afi11-301v4.pdf

12 MIL-STD-1425A 30 August 1991 http://www.denix.osd.mil/shf/upload/MIL-STD-1425A,-Safety-Design-Requirements-for-Military-Lasers,-30-August-1991.pdf 13

Laser Institute of America: https://www.lia.org/publications/ansi/Z136-1

14

http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/NSWC_Dahlgren/Laser/MIL_STD_1425A.pdf

15 16

MIL-STD-1425A 30 August 1991 http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/NSWC_Dahlgren/Laser/MIL_STD_1425A.pdf MIL-STD-1425A30August1991 http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/NSWC_Dahlgren/Laser/MIL_STD_1425A.pdf B.3.6.4MIL-STD-1425A30August1991 http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/NSWC_Dahlgren/Laser/MIL_STD_1425A.pdf

17

AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 11-301 VOLUME 4 Certified Current, 17 FEBRUARY 2010 21 FEBRUARY 2008 Flying Operations AIRCREW LASER EYE PROTECTION (ALEP) Certified by: HQ USAF/A3O-A (Brig Gen Lyn D. Sherlock) http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a3_5/publication/afi11-301v4/afi11-301v4.pdf 18

19

Boeing com http://www.boeing.com/history/products/joint-helmet-mounted-cueing-system.page

20

AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 11-301 VOLUME 4 Certified Current, 17 FEBRUARY 2010 21 FEBRUARY 2008 Flying Operations AIRCREW LASER EYE PROTECTION (ALEP) Certified by: HQ USAF/A3O-A (Brig Gen Lyn D. Sherlock) http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a3_5/publication/afi11-301v4/afi11-301v4.pdf

21

Laser News, Laws, & Civil Penalties http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/laws/

http://www.unog.ch/80256EE600585943/(httpPages)/4F0DEF093B4860B4C1257180004B1B30?OpenDocument The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. 20

21

Laser News, Laws, & Civil Penalties http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/laws/

22

http://www.unog.ch/80256EE600585943/(httpPages)/4F0DEF093B4860B4C1257180004B1B30?OpenDocument The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

23

24

25 26 27 28 29

Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits: Background and Possible Options to Address the Threat to Aviation Safety and Security Bart Elias Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS22033.pdf Lasers Aimed at Aircraft Cockpits: Background and Possible Options to Address the Threat to Aviation Safety and Security Bart Elias Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS22033.pdf

SAWFLY https://www.revisionmilitary.com/case-study/laser-defense/ SAWFLY https://www.revisionmilitary.com/case-study/laser-defense/ SAWFLY https://www.revisionmilitary.com/case-study/laser-defense/ http://www.perriquest.com White Paper SAWFLY https://www.revisionmilitary.com/case-study/laser-defense/ 14 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION LASER DEFENSE EYEWEAR

Notes:

16 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


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Defence Industry Report – Next Generation Laser Defence Eyewear  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Laser Defense Eyewear

Defence Industry Report – Next Generation Laser Defence Eyewear  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Laser Defense Eyewear