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SPECIAL REPORT

Advances in Laser Diode Technology for Modern Military Applications Frankfurt Laser Company – Solid Partner for All Things Photonic! The Rapid Advance of Military Applications for Opto-Electronic Components Technology The Role of International Law and Laser Applications Modern Military Applications for Electro-Optic Systems and the Engineering Challenges They Present

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


SPECIAL REPORT

Advances in Laser Diode Technology for Modern Military Applications Frankfurt Laser Company – Solid Partner for All Things Photonic!

SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

Contents

The Rapid Advance of Military Applications for Opto-Electronic Components Technology The Role of International Law and Laser Applications Modern Military Applications for Electro-Optic Systems and the Engineering Challenges They Present

Foreword

2

Mary Dub, Editor

Frankfurt Laser Company – Solid Partner for All Things Photonic!

3

Frankfurt Laser Company Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org 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.

Semiconductor Lasers – Where Is the Next Volume Application? Sensors and the Individual Light Sources and Packaging A Plethora of Light Sources In Conclusion

The Rapid Advance of Military Applications for Opto-Electronic Components Technology

8

Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

Military Applications for Lasers Spotted Immediately Laser Dazzle Sight Used During the Falklands War Westpoint Military Academy Photonics Research Center

The Role of International Law and Laser Applications 10 Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

Modern Military Applications for Electro-Optic Systems and the Engineering Challenges They Present

11

Meredith LLewelyn, Lead Contributor

The Power Problem The Size Issue and Humidity Working with Reflective Surfaces Star Wars and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Tactical Applications for Electro-optic Technologies Thales GLOW – a Lower Risk Non-Lethal Application. Enhanced Targeting Improving Rifle Firing Accuracy While Protecting the Soldier

References 14

© 2011. 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. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

Foreword O

PTO -ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS

An assessment of the rapid development of laser

Technology is the hidden component

technology over the last 50 years is looked at in the

in a vast range of military devices. It lays claim

second part of the Report. This has progressed from

to the critical technological advance that gives

the laboratory bench to the critical technological

the decisive edge in combat in conventional or

infrastructure behind enhanced fire control accuracy

counter insurgency warfare.

for a range of systems from handheld rifles to

This issue of Special Reports addresses the

strategic missile systems.

engineering and ethical challenges behind one of

The nub of the third piece is the humanitarian

the fastest growing areas of technology with a myriad

concern in international law generated by the

of military applications.

damage to eyes from laser technology and the

The opening article in this Special Report looks at

attempt to advise and warn manufacturers to

the current climate for the traditional semiconductor

ensure that the least “unnecessary suffering” and

laser market and how this has diminished as a

“superfluous injury” is inflicted in the design and

result of the ongoing reduction in larger volume

training for use of laser dependent weapons.

commercial applications for laser diodes. This has

The final feature looks at the current achievements

been brought about by the reduction in the need for

of the industry demonstrated by the displays at

optical storage, as content is increasingly available

Farnborough Airshow 2010 and elsewhere that

online. However, the role of the simple DPSS laser is

illustrate their new capability to overcome engineering

still applicable to many applications both commercial

challenges thought to be insurmountable a

and military, by offering wider temperature operation

generation ago. With opto-electronic components

than ever before. At the same time, direct green laser

now delivering benefits to non-lethal weapons,

diodes are taking on a greater significance and are

counter-measures, sensors and fire control accuracy,

being used in various military applications such as

the future of the industry is assured.

gun sights. The article goes on to discuss a new evolving world of electronics which has a far wider range of applications not only for the military, but also in the automotive, communication, domestic appliances and allied industries.

Mary Dub Editor

Mary Dub has covered the defence field in the United States and the UK as a television broadcaster, journalist and conference manager. Focused by a Masters in War Studies from King’s College, London, she annotates and highlights the interplay of armies, governments and industry.

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

Frankfurt Laser Company – Solid Partner for All Things Photonic! Frankfurt Laser Company

LASER DIODES FOR DEFENCE APPLICATIONS Laser diodes emitting in the near-IR wavelength band up to 2W power output demonstrate stable operation in -60°C to +70°C temperature band in CW and pulsed mode.

P

RIMARILY, FRANKFURT Laser Company is focused on semiconductor based laser products. The entire spectrum of UV, to Visible, to IR, and far IR – are addressed through long established relationships with clients, manufacturers, and our own development of integrated solutions. When last we discussed our offerings through participating with the “Defense Industry Reports”, we reported that there was a general climate of supplier reduction within the semiconductor laser industry. This continues to be the case, and it is exacerbated by the on-going reduction in large volume commercial application for laser diodes. Basically, the Internet has reduced the need for optical storage as content is available online. While Telecom continues to consume wavelengths from 980nm to 1550nm primarily, their growth is predictable, and the suppliers established. It is hoped that the increased need for bandwidth as more and more devices are connected to the Internet, will continue to supply the energy and monetary resources required for continued R&D. There is the potential for

applications within the Defense Spectrum. It is still the case that organizations such as the USA’s DARPA and its European counterparts have programs which necessarily spill technology into the commercial markets, at least over time. But the ever changing connected world is bringing about a much more rapid development centered on all of us as individuals, and which will have profound impact on the Defense Industry, as well as future development within Photonics.

Semiconductor Lasers – Where Is the Next Volume Application? Established applications for semiconductor lasers as applied to Defense are within IR illumination and targeting, as well as visible lasers used for targeting. There have been significant developments in the visible spectrum, as direct green laser diodes are becoming prolific. Today, there are technology developments announced by Sumitomo/Sony, Nichia, and Osram. Osram has already begun commercial supply of their green diode, which has found its way into various applications, not the least of which is gun sights. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

It is estimated that every single day we interact with 100 or more sensors. These are in our car, our phone, our home and in other appliances. They track things such as time,

DEFENSE LASER MODULES FOR TARGET DESIGNATION & ILLUMINATION Defense laser modules from Frankfurt Laser Company are easy to use, plug and play systems designed for target designation and illumination.

heating, lighting and for the individual, heartbeat, respiration, distance, and various health monitoring functions SUPERLUMINESCENT MILITARY DIODES Superluminescent military diodes demonstrate wide emission flat spectrum, low ripple (less than 1%), and negligible secondary coherence subpeaks.

While there are still some technical challenges in regards to handling the drive voltage requirements, at the same time maintaining battery life, it is clear that the day of the green laser diode has arrived. However, it should not be overlooked that there are suppliers of simple DPSS lasers that can adequately meet the needs of many of these applications (commercial, or military) by offering wider temperature operation than ever before, i.e. -40°C+50°C. Additionally, these solutions can also be cost-effective, depending on power requirement. Frankfurt Laser Company maintains a position of finding the right solution for the required application by working with both technologies, and presenting clear choices for the customer, whether defense or commercial. 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

What has driven the development of the green laser diode has historically been the promise of the projector market, primarily what has been referred to as the pico-projector. The path to this development has been long, and there have been many changes to the perceived value of this market today among the experts. There are so many ways to display information today, including of course LEDs, OLEDs, and such. The development continues, but the audience is a little less certain about these projector markets. HUDS continue to have a life though, but in very different formats than previously. Automotive also has a voice in these applications. For all of these customers, we can offer the light sources required during development. However, there is a new evolving world of electronics, that is all around us now, and which will involve all types of light sources, noncoherent, and coherent. I shall loosely refer to this as the “Sensor World”, and light sources will play a significant role within a portion of this market.

Sensors and the Individual It is estimated that every single day we interact with 100 or more sensors. These are in our car, our phone, our home and in other appliances. They track things such as time, heating, lighting and for the individual, heartbeat, respiration, distance, and various health monitoring functions. Every year more and more products, and services, are introduced that include some way of monitoring our every movement, and our biological responses to our environment. Lasers are but a small part of the ‘system’ that might be


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

GREEN LASER MODULES WITH WIDE OPERATING TEMPERATURE RANGE Frankfurt Laser Company offers a new line of low cost green DPSS laser modules. The wavelength is 532nm and the output power can be free selected between 1mW to 50mW. With wide operating temperature range from -40 to +50°C the modules are particularly suited for application in harsh environmental conditions.

employed in a sensor application, but because of the envisioned growth of such products, it is not small in terms of available market. The modern soldier already knows how light and sensors help him to assess the battlefield, to see it as if it were daylight at night - to provide communication that is secure from interception, and to guide teams and at times munitions to designated targets. He wears and carries many types of light sources, invisible and visible. He has used green lasers for target designation for some time now. Work can now be carried out to assess the battlefield and to understand the environment before troops enter an unknown area. There are detectors for various hazardous materials and chemicals – such as in an area which may have leaking chemicals and gas, like methane, excessive CO2, and various toxic chemicals. The general field of Spectroscopy, combining both MID IR LEDs, and LDs in higher wavelengths (2-4 micron range) exist today for various detection. These previously large scale devices are being scaled down. They are not products made currently in large volume, but there is solid support for these markets as there is a very defined need. One can just think about the sensors we use in our homes, and then imagine the expansion of technology to detect all kinds of hazardous materials. More significantly is a growing momentum towards developing field deployable medical devices, and scanners – so as to bring the ‘clinic’ to the individual. These involve lasers that do everything from simple oxygen measurement, to blood/glucose measurement, and even overall health monitoring, looking for signs of

heart stress – as an example. Superluminescent diodes are used for OCT to detect brain damage at the battlefield and increase soldiers’ survival rate. There are even talks of integrating light with patients to alleviate long term pain. These instruments are in development for commercial application, but one can easily see how they may be deployed in mobile locations, at least to a level of support which follows the soldiers into the field. To have some of this analysis available in minutes, rather than hours, or even days – will be very valuable to keeping a force together, on location – while supplying the proper oversight and care to the soldier. One can see how blood analysis, for example, can help to maintain the force in the best of health and preparedness. Frankfurt Laser Company stands ready to provide the large variety of both LED sources, and Laser Sources for the defense and commercial markets during these development challenges. Before leaving his section, consider a projection made not long ago, from a consortium of individuals associated with sensor development. I am sorry not to be able to quote them directly, but an estimate was made that in the near future, each of us individually will have interaction with over 1,000 sensors per day. Today it is less than 100. It is a very quickly changing world. Lasers and LEDs will continue to be in demand, but not just for the conventional applications that we are familiar with currently, such as optical storage and telecommunication applications. There has been a lot of activity lately in support of the above activity, including newly formed organizations to oversee these developments. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

This is an area where Frankfurt Laser Company has experienced success over the years, by directly working with both well known, and lesser known manufacturers

COMPACT IR LASER DIODE MODULE FOR MILITARY APPLICATIONS The ML-EL-850-01 is an infrared dot laser module. It has 0.9mW output power at 850nm, with low beam divergence 0.5mrad and low current consumption of <30mA. Operating temperature is from -10°C to +60°C, the module is also military qualified and is shock and vibration resistant, in a small housing with diameter 7mm and length 23mm.

The market for sensors will grow into the many trillions in short order – and the more interconnected these devices are, the more requirements for light sources will develop. This may sound something of a sweeping statement, but the envisioned growth is quite remarkable, and it will certainly inform our defense strategy for the future.

Light Sources and Packaging Requirements for the future soldier will always need to take account of size, ruggedness, and ease of use. Today, IR illuminators and targeting lasers are already fairly small, depending, of course, on the distance required for operation and light intensity needed. However, the ability to create now high power devices in the smallest possible form factors, such as 3.3mm diodes – or chips packaged in unusual ways (such as the old ‘rail system’ used in conventional CD players) – allow for the designer to consider ‘exotic’ methods of forming a light source. In order accomplish this in practice there must be not only a capable manufacturing source, but also a source that is willing to listen to your needs. This is an area where Frankfurt Laser Company has experienced success over the years, by directly working with both well known, and lesser known manufacturers. To understand whether something can be done or not, it is always best to find an organization that has done it before! Obvious? 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

– Yes, but most customers don’t know where to look. We pride ourselves in providing the ‘lesser known’ solution. If you need chip on submount, (COS), or unusual integrations of diodes and other components, then you should make a point of discussing these requirements with us. Everything from edge emitting devices, to VCSEL technology, and custom wavelengths – these are challenges we welcome.

A Plethora of Light Sources Frankfurt Laser has MID-IR LEDs, DFB Lasers, Fabry Perot Lasers, Superluminescent Diodes, Fiber-coupled Lasers, a multimode and singlemode lasers, of wavelengths and power ranges that cover almost the entire gamut of customer requirements. Of course, we work with manufacturers already renowned for their expertise, but often they don’t see the way to the application. That is our particular expertise, and also why we have done our best to fill the electromagnetic spectrum when light sources are needed. When required, we have developed some of these products at our own cost in order to create a potential market. We continue to supply integrated systems, defined by our customers – whether collimated or focused light, light patterns requiring line generation, or diffractive optics with custom pattern generation. Our role is to listen and select the right components for the job.


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

MID-IR (1.5UM TO 12 UM) LEDS, LASER DIODES AND PD Application: sensors for security systems, smart weapons illuminators

In Conclusion The traditional uses of lasers continue to thrive both in the current military and for future development. In terms of improving armaments and fighting capability, todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fighting forces, including foot soldiers and aerial drones both employ and utilize the advantages of lasers. We also see an expansion of light sources used for health applications, which are just as important to the soldier as to the individual citizen. Furthermore, we as a company are proud to represent key technologies and manufacturers throughout the world, and therefore assist in the development of technology useful for keeping people alive, as well as offering a deterrent force to those who would threaten life.

Contact Frankfurt Laser Company An den 30 Morgen 13, 61381 Friedrichsdorf, Germany Tel.: +49(0)6172.27978-0 Fax: +49(0)6172.27978-10 E-mail: sales@frlaserco.com; WWW.FRLASERCO.COM

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

The Rapid Advance of Military Applications for Opto-Electronic Components Technology Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

“It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat... Then it was as if an invisible yet intensely heated finger were drawn through the heather” HG Wells ‘The War of the Worlds’ 1898

The U.S. military at that time was interested in the laser for its ability to improve radar, guide long-range weapons and potentially serve as a weapon itself.

I

N THE half-centur y since the first publication in “Nature” of the invention of lasers (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) on May 16 1960 at Hughes Research Laboratories by Theodore Maiman1, the weapons of Victorian and 20th century science fiction have crept increasingly close to reality. How? Former Hughes Aircraft Company researchers, Daniel Nieuwsma and Bob Byren describe the process in an interview in 2010 for Scientific American: Daniel Nieuwsma: “Hughes’ and Ted Maiman’s laser work was an evolution of MASER [Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation] work from the 1940s and ‘50s that tried to create more powerful microwave sources to improve things like the capability of radar systems. [Maiman] worked his way up to the laser [which uses light waves] as a way to get even more power.” Bob Byren: “With light, even though there are some limitations on transmission related to atmospheric conditions, you’re operating on three orders of magnitude higher than microwaves in terms of frequency, with 1,000 times better resolution, meaning you can pack 1,000 times more information into light waves than into microwaves. The increase in frequency is also an advantage in bandwidth in terms of [transmitting] information. That’s the whole idea behind fiber optics technology.”2

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Military Applications for Lasers Spotted Immediately The US military had immediate interest in the applications for the new technology. The U.S. military at that time was interested in the laser for its ability to improve radar, guide long-range weapons and potentially serve as a weapon itself. However, Nieuwsma, now senior principal physicist for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems’ (SAS) Optics and Lasers Department, and Byren, principal engineering fellow and technology area director for electro-optical, infrared and laser technology at SAS, recognized the technology’s potential in other areas, including communications, electronics and medicine. Nieuwsma described the research goals of 1979: “I was hired to help bring in some of the lasers out of the labs and into production. Part of this was using lasers to make range finders or target designators that soldiers could use on the ground to illuminate a target for aircraft. A laser seeker attached to a bomb could fly into the illumination made by the laser. Lasers were mostly used as sensors and for precision munitions targeting to get exactly what you’re aiming at more accurately.” While his fellow researcher Bob Byren was working on non-lethal applications of lasers: “I was already working in the field of dazzlers [which were designed to be non-lethal weapons that caused temporary blindness or disorientation]. From there, I went on to laser radar and 3-D laser imaging that could be used to guide autonomous vehicles like cruise missiles. We could use a single


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

sensor to look at the three-dimensional outline of a target or object of interest.” These new and highly effective weapons with their capability to kill, wound, blind and protect, were noted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC subdivided the technologies into five categories when their “committee of experts” assessed these new weapons in 1990: Category A – “Systems not designated primarily for anti-personnel use but which under battlefield conditions might present an ocular hazard. Sub-category 1 – “Range-finders, target designators, laser target markers, optical radar systems (LIDAR) and large, non-portable or vehicle-mounted systems.” Sub-category 2 included “Sighting, training, simulation and other small, portable systems.” Category B covered “Anti-Sensor Systems” for example the Stingray, Dazer and Cobra. Category C covered “Anti-personnel Systems”. Category D included “systems with output beams of such intensity and power that damage is done to material remote from the system.” The laser weapons, which were a part of the American Space Defense Initiative, fell under this section.

Laser diode modules red, green, IR operating in wide temperature range ( -20deg +85degC ) Application: target designators for fire arms.

And finally, Non-Laser Intense Light Systems, which operate with intense light sources that are not lasers. In military situations, they may cause damage to the eyes and skin similar to that produced by laser light. Non-laser light systems include searchlights, aircraft landing lights and strobe and signaling lamps.3

Laser Dazzle Sight Used During the Falklands War Rapidly, these highly effective new capabilities were used in combat. There are reports that Category C anti-personnel systems were used by the British Navy in 1982 during the Falklands war. “Although most information pertaining to such weapons is classified, the British Navy’s Laser Dazzle Sight (LDS) weapon is an exception. This system was employed on British naval vessels and was intended to dazzle pilots of attacking aircraft. The LDS had been commercially available and in use since the Falklands war in 1982.”

All Westpoint undergraduates have to pass modules which demonstrate a comprehension of the role of photonics in modern war fighting technology. In the Gulf War (1990) the new American Stingray system was deployed: “The Stingray weapon was developed by Martin-Marietta Electronics and Missiles Group and General Electric to detect, track and counter optical and electro-optical devices on tanks, combat vehicles and other ground and airborne systems beyond the threat’s effective conventional weapons ranges. The U.S. Army states that the Stingray is a tactical laser system integrated on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and designed to acquire and defeat threat direct fire control systems. Stingray increases the effectiveness and survivability of the Bradley crew and other friendly forces in the area by employing in-ban laser energy to acquire and disable threat fire control systems.”4

Westpoint Military Academy Photonics Research Center It was a decade earlier in the 1980s, that Westpoint Military Academy acknowledged the potential and critical importance of lasers and initiated the Photonics Research Center, which brought together resources and a faculty of three departments–Chemistry & Life Science, Physics & Nuclear Engineering, and Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences, to create a Center of Excellence in teaching and research into the role of photonics in war fighting. In 2011, all Westpoint undergraduates have to pass modules which demonstrate a comprehension of the role of photonics in modern war fighting technology. Indeed, LTC William Pearman challenges cadets and visitors to the center to name a weapon system that does not include lasers.5 WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 9


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

The Role of International Law and Laser Applications Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

In use as a weapon, the principal biological tissue target of lasers is the eye, where there are three basic mechanisms of tissue damage: thermal, photochemical and ionization.

IR laser diodes CW and pulse 830nm – 1550nm operating in wide temperature range ( -60deg +80degC ) Application: rangefinders, target designators, IR laser illuminators for night vision equipment in space, avionics, infantry fire arms, battle tanks, navy.

O

NE OF the most enduring images of the First World War is a photograph of a line of blinded soldiers being led from the battlefield after being exposed to phosgene gas. The inhumanity and cruelty of chemical warfare, as demonstrated in this picture, alarmed the international community, and led to the adoption of the 1925 Geneva Protocol banning the use of chemical and biological warfare.6 It was the sensitivity of the issue of the “accidental” loss of sight for soldiers that established lasers as an area of debate around the effects of new weapons, which the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and others sought to limit. In use as a weapon, the principal biological tissue target of lasers is the eye, where there are three basic mechanisms of tissue damage: thermal, photochemical and ionization. When a high-energy laser beam causes ionization and thermal damage, the eye tissue reaction is acute or instantaneous. After twenty years of development of a range of applications for lasers the United States Department of Defense agreed to some restrictions on the use of laser technology to prevent blinding on the battlefield. September 1, 1995 press release, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry announced the policy of the United States, Department of Defense on blinding lasers: “The Department of Defense prohibits the use of lasers specifically designed to cause permanent blindness of unenhanced vision and supports negotiations prohibiting the use of such weapons. However, laser systems are absolutely vital to our modern military. Among other things, they are currently used for detection, targeting, range finding, and communications and target destruction. They provide a critical technological edge to US forces and allow our forces to fight, win and survive on an increasingly lethal battlefield. In addition, lasers provide significant humanitarian benefits. They allow weapons systems to be increasingly discriminate, thereby reducing collateral damage to civilian lives and property. The Department of Defense recognizes that accidental or incidental eye injuries may occur

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on the battlefield as the result of the use of legitimate laser systems. Therefore, we continue to strive, through training and doctrine, to minimize these injuries.” What is at the nub of the issue of restricting these weapons with the ability to blind is not the issue that the weapons cause pain and suffering, but whether it causes “unnecessary suffering” or “superfluous injuries” a much more complex and difficult issue to prove. In effect, the law attempts to interpose an element of humanity into armed conflict by prohibiting the infliction of suffering which serves no military purpose.7 The item in international law that notes the high levels of concern about the use of lasers on the battlefield is: “The Review Conference of the 1980 Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Which May Be Deemed Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, 1995.” This was viewed by human rights activists as a victory for international humanitarian law, at least with regard to blinding laser weapons, because it produced Protocol IV to the 1980 CCW. Article 1 of Protocol IV effectively prohibits the use of – “laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye”. There are several significant implications of this protocol, in that it allows systems which intend only to dazzle, and it allows range finders and target-markers. However, it does make the caution that soldiers should: “take all feasible precautions to avoid the incidence of permanent blindness to unenhanced vision” in the use of these systems. However, the wording in the law is weak and has a moral role rather than any significant limiting effect on the industry.


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

Modern Military Applications for Electro-Optic Systems and the Engineering Challenges They Present Meredith Llewellyn, Lead Contributor

require an energy input to generate the beam, although the energy required is still significant. However, until recently, solid state lasers were not able to reach the same power levels as chemical lasers and so were not deemed suitable for military use.9

The Size Issue and Humidity

Laser diode modules red, green, IR operating in wide temperature range ( -20deg +85degC ) Application: target designators for fire arms.

A

T THE Farnborough Airshow 2010, one of the latest military developments of laser technology was wheeled out before an expectant crowd – The Laser Close-In Weapon System (CIWS). What they showed was video footage of a laser weapon bringing down a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). This first in laser capabilities usefully demonstrates both the new capabilities of laser technology and the hurdles that still need to be overcome. Raytheon said the solid-state fibre laser produced a 50 kilowatt beam and could be used against UAVs, mortar, rockets and small surface ships.8

The Power Problem The first engineering challenge for a laser weapons system is mobilizing sufficient power. Initially, systems used chemical lasers, which obtained their power from a chemical reaction. These were very large and fuel hungry pieces of equipment, requiring a significant quantity of chemicals to drive them. The fuel is frequently toxic. Solid-state lasers, by contrast, consist of a glass or ceramic material to generate a laser beam. They are smaller, more compact and only

One of the challenges to the industry is to minituarise their systems further. Raytheon Missile Systems’ vice president, Mike Booen, said that the tests performed in a maritime environment were a big step forward for laser technology. “We’ve tied this into Phalanx, the US Navy’s anti-missile defence system that links a multiple barreled 20mm Gatling gun to a radar guidance mechanism. This system is already installed in many ships, both in the US and other NATO nations, such as the Royal Navy.”10 A further issue for e design engineers is humidity – working at sea, inevitably involves a high humidity environment, which handicaps laser capabilities.

Working with Reflective Surfaces “Two problems that have dogged laser weapon development for some time are weather conditions and the target itself. Damp maritime air can absorb the laser energy before it reaches the target and, as developers discovered in the 1960s when trying to target Russian Mig aircraft, a reflective surface can negate much of the laser’s effectiveness.11” “Every material reflects, but you can overcome this with power. Once you get over a certain threshold – measured in multiple kilowatts – then the laser does what it is designed to do.”12 He said. “There are numerous real world applications for a laser that can knock out airborne threats, especially mortars and rockets. Airbases in Afghanistan, the Green Zone in Baghdad or the border between Gaza and Israel could all potentially use something like this.” WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

There are two areas where

the development of weapons for the system, the capability of a laser weapon to shoot down an incoming ICBM was not feasible at the time or for the next 25 years.

electro-optic systems have

Tactical Applications for Electro-optic Technologies

especial value – as nonlethal weapons or warners and as range finders to

Mid-IR (1.5um to 12 um) LEDs, laser diodes and PD Application: sensors for security systems, smart weapons illuminators

enhance accuracy to limit

While Raytheon may be close to developing laser systems with strategic value, the military value of laser diodes and electro-optic components in the battlefield across NATO forces and indeed, ISAF forces in Afghanistan and other conflicts in the Middle East is unchallenged. The weapon systems that include some electro-optic component are very long indeed.13 There are two areas where electrooptic systems have especial value – as nonlethal weapons or warners and as range finders to enhance accuracy to limit the risk of civilian death or collateral damage.

Thales GLOW – a Lower Risk Non-Lethal Application.

the risk of civilian death or collateral damage. Superluminescent diodes 830-850nm operating in wide temperature range (-45deg +85degC) Application: fiber gyroscopes for 3D-positiong (avionics, missiles, battle tanks, navy)

However, Raytheon will be up against some strong competition as Northrop Grumman plans to test its own solid-state Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) system.

Star Wars and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) As he ended the interview, Mike Booen, Raytheon Missile Systems’ vice president, added a comment that reflected a 25 year ambition for laser weapons that is yet to be achieved. “We’re still some way off being able to take out an [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile] missile with laser technology, but we’re on the path to that,” he added. In 1983, then President Ronald Reagan committed the United States to strategic nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union by walking away from strategic nuclear arms control treaties and challenging Russia to a new defensive phase in the nuclear arms race – the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or Star Wars as it was known in the press after the George Lucas film. This SDI advanced a system whereby the United States would be protected from nuclear attack by laser and other defense systems that would shoot down incoming ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles). However, despite the money spent on 12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

The controlled use of laser light as an “escalation of force option” for the British Army in Afghanistan by using Thales’ GLOW (Green Laser Optical Warning) has proved its worth in counter insurgency operations where avoiding civilian deaths is paramount in establishing good relationships with local Afghan populations. At a weight of 1Kg it fits under the barrel of a rifle and casts a dazzling light up to 300 m, which can be pulsed. This can be more effective than a shout in stopping an advancing opponent at the same time doing no harm. According to a company spokesperson, British forces have used GLOW in at least 20 confrontations when lethal force might otherwise have been employed, potentially preventing an innocent person from being shot in every case. US forces have been using laser dazzlers in Iraq and Afghanistan for years. One of the lasers used by US forces is the GBD-III made by Meyers, which has a Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance (NOHD) of almost a mile, meaning that it is potentially hazardous at shorter ranges. While American forces are now using less powerful lasers, even the latest GLARE MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) lasers ordered by the US Marine Corps have an NOHD of almost thirty metres. By contrast, GLOW has a Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance of less than 10 metres, so you would have to be that close before there was any risk.14

Enhanced Targeting Perhaps the most frequent use of lasers is in tactical and handheld weapons to aid target designation. For example, a low-power laser pointer used to indicate a target for a precisionguided munition, typically launched from an


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

Laser diode modules red, green, IR operating in wide temperature range (-20deg +85degC) Application: target designators for fire arms.

aircraft. The guided munition adjusts its flightpath to home in to the laser light reflected by the target, enabling a greater precision in aiming. The beam of the laser target designator is set to a pulse rate that matches that set on the guided munition to ensure munitions strike their designated targets. The laser designator, usually infrared, can be shone onto the target by an aircraft or nearby infantry.

Improving Rifle Firing Accuracy While Protecting the Soldier Many NATO countries’ armies regularly use a laser sight attachment to the rifle. This is a small, usually visible-light laser placed on the rifle and aligned to emit a beam parallel to the barrel. Since a laser beam has low divergence, the laser light appears as a small spot even at long distances – the user places the spot on the desired target and the barrel of the gun is aligned. Most laser sights use a red laser diode. Others use an infrared diode to produce a dot invisible to the naked human eye but detectable with night vision devices. The firearms adaptive target acquisition module LLM01 laser light module combines visible and infrared laser diodes. These infra-red diodes are visible only when LUCIE15 (part of Germany’s IdZ modernization program) or another infrared night vision device is used. Unless the enemy has IR night vision equipment the IR laser will not reveal the presence of the LLM01 IR light beam.

The beam of the laser target designator is set to a pulse rate that matches that set on the guided munition to ensure munitions strike their designated targets. The laser designator, usually infrared, can be shone onto the target by an aircraft or nearby infantry. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN LASER DIODE TECHNOLOGY FOR MODERN MILITARY APPLICATIONS

References: 1

 A http://www.laserfest.org/lasers/history/paper-maiman.pdf

2

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=key-moments-in-laser-history By Larry Greenemeier | May 14, 2010

3

BLINDING LASER WEAPONS: It is Time for the International Community to Take Off Its Blinders. Lisa A. Small fn(a)

4

BLINDING LASER WEAPONS: It is Time for the International Community to Take Off Its Blinders. Lisa A. Small fn(a)

5

http://www.dean.usma.edu/centers/photonics/

6

BLINDING LASER WEAPONS: It is Time for the International Community to Take Off Its Blinders. Lisa A. Small fn(a)

7

BLINDING LASER WEAPONS: It is Time for the International Community to Take Off Its Blinders. Lisa A. Small fn(a)

8

19 July 2010 Last updated at 12:38 Anti-aircraft laser unveiled at Farnborough Airshow

9

By Daniel Emery BBC Technology reporter 19 July 2010 Last updated at 12:38 Anti-aircraft laser unveiled at Farnborough Airshow

10

11

12

By Daniel Emery BBC Technology reporter http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10682693 19 July 2010 Last updated at 12:38 Anti-aircraft laser unveiled at Farnborough Airshow by Daniel Emery BBC Technology reporter http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10682693 19 July 2010 Last updated at 12:38 Anti-aircraft laser unveiled at Farnborough Airshow by Daniel Emery BBC Technology reporter http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10682693 19 July 2010 Last updated at 12:38 Anti-aircraft laser unveiled at Farnborough Airshow by Daniel Emery BBC Technology reporter

13

Jane’s Electro-Optic Systems Publication date Oct 07, 2010

14

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-08/09/glow-laser

15

British Army uses laser dazzlers to save lives By David Hambling 09 August 10 LUCIE is a binocular goggle based on a THALES ANGENIEUX patented optical design offering a very compact head- mounted system, with a wide 51° field of view instead of the traditional 40° field of view.

14 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


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Defence Industry Reports – Advances in Laser Diode Technology for Modern Military Applications  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Advances in Laser Diode Technology for Modern Military Applications – Frankfurt Laser Company

Defence Industry Reports – Advances in Laser Diode Technology for Modern Military Applications  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Advances in Laser Diode Technology for Modern Military Applications – Frankfurt Laser Company