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SPECIAL REPORT

Military Opto-Electronic Components Technology Photonics Component Suppliers and the Defense Industry 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

Military Opto-Electronic Components Technology Photonics Component Suppliers and the Defense Industry

SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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

Photonics Component Suppliers and the Defense Industry

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.

Who We Are Component Offerings Today Putting Together the Pieces – Taming the Light Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? Where the Applications Are Examples of Components and Systems for Defense Tomorrow’s Technology Today In Summary

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

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© 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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

Foreword

O

PTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS Technology is the hidden component in a vast range of military devices. It lays claim to the critical technological advance

that gives the decisive edge in combat in conventional or counter insurgency warfare. This issue of Special Reports addresses the engineering and ethical challenges behind one of the fastest growing areas of technology with a myriad of military applications. The Report opens by reviewing the broad range of technologies that can be drawn upon depending on the needs of the user. It goes on to discuss wide spectrums of light, available packages and power output options as well as different types of light sources. It argues that emphasis must be placed on users’ specific requirements with a need to take account of not only cost considerations but also service, quality and longevity of supply. The first piece ends with an overview of a number of defence-related products benefitting from laser technology. An assessment of the rapid development of laser technology over the last 50 years is looked at in the second part of the Report. This has progressed from the laboratory bench to the critical technological infrastructure behind enhanced fire control accuracy for a range of systems from handheld rifles to strategic missile systems. The nub of the third piece is the humanitarian concern in international law generated by the damage to eyes from laser technology and the attempt to advise and warn manufacturers to ensure that the least “unnecessary suffering” and “superfluous injury” is inflicted in the design and training for use of laser dependent weapons. The final feature looks at the current achievements of the industry demonstrated by the displays at Farnborough Airshow 2010 and elsewhere that illustrate their new capability to overcome engineering challenges thought to be insurmountable a generation ago. With opto-electronic components now delivering benefits to non-lethal weapons, countermeasures, sensors and fire control accuracy, the future of the industry is assured.

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

Photonics Component Suppliers and the Defense Industry Frankfurt Laser Company

is the ideal defense industry partner, it is best to begin with an overview that illustrate the types of technologies and services that we bring to all of our customers.

Component Offerings Today If Frankfurt Laser Company were to list all of its current offerings we would quite literally take over the remainder of this publication. Instead let’s talk wavelengths, power levels, and packaging as a whole, then list the major types of light sources offered today.

Who We Are Established in 1994 by Dr. Vsevolod Mazo, Frankfurt Laser Company, (‘FLC’), entered the expanding market of Photonics. The headquarters are located in Friedrichsdorf, just outside of Frankfurt, Germany, with an office in the U.S., and representatives world wide. FLC quickly established a reputation as being experts in laser diode components. The product line quickly expanded adding a variety of light sources, optics, and other passive and active components. Integration of these components became a standard request by the customer base. FLC established its own captive suppliers for specific components and assemblies. Of particular note in the history of the company is that in 2009 Frankfurt Laser Company celebrated its first 15 years in business. Though the overall global economy was in a downturn, FLC expanded its business 40% both in turnover and profit by obtaining several key contracts in the defense sector. Later in this article some specifics of the defense markets will be covered, but to build an understanding of the range of components, expertise, and key characteristics as to why FLC

Wide Spectrums of Light: Beginning in the UV and stretching to the far IR, we have components, and sometimes DPSS based ‘systems’, which cover 266nm to out beyond 12 micron wavelengths, and of course everything ‘visible’ in between. Packaging: FLC is involved with providing our customers with precisely what they are looking for when physically possible. From standard offthe-shelf lasers to working with laser die (chips), we can offer both custom and standard packages such as: TO-Can style devices, C-mounts, HHL packaging, inclusion of TEC where required, Bars, Arrays, edge emitters, VCSELs, Quantum Cascade, and pretty much the full gambit and combinations of any of these types of devices. In addition, we offer fiber coupling, single and multimode for many of our light sources. From the common to the obscure, and those not attempted before, FLC stands as a partner to the customer to ensure they obtain what they require. FLC’s motto is, ‘If it’s possible, we will pursue it.’ WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

As another example of changing times, requirements in the optical storage and media markets are evolving. Solid state devices are replacing everything from media recording devices to online streaming.

Power Output: From milliwatts to many hundreds of watts, FLC can provide the output required. Of course this depends on the type of light source, economics, and sometimes just abiding by the laws of physics, to reach certain levels. However you may rely on FLC expertise to assess the possibility. As an example, sometimes a custom package may be required to use multiple emitters (array, or singular), or in some applications we may use fiber bundling. Types of Light Sources: FLC’s family of light sources is ever expanding, as older technology is improved, and newer technology is introduced. Semiconductor Laser Diodes, MID-IR LEDs, SLD (Superluminescent Laser Diodes), VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser), DPSS (Diode Pumped Solid State), and QCL (Quantum Cascade Laser) represent the base categories of light sources we offer. As a note, at FLC we consider DPSS to be both a ‘system’ and a component, as certain DPSS lasers, such as those in the GREEN spectrum, can be made so small, and easily constructed, that they are in essence just another light source to ‘build around’, such as when using a laser diode. More highly specialized semiconductor lasers, such as DFB (Distributed Feedback Laser, DBR (Distributed Bragg Reflector), and a new expanding line of single frequency lasers are also available. Under development and available in some quantities, are now direct green laser diodes. Some of these developments are an off-spring of the ‘micro projector market’ used in RGB systems. Accoutrements: FLC can provide optics ranging from asperhics, to diffractive optical elements. OEM electronics (drivers), as well as complete turn-key systems are available ready to ‘plug and play’. Photo detectors and unique hybrids are available often when required.

Putting Together the Pieces – Taming the Light In most applications it’s all about ‘taming the light’, or making it do what you want. One perhaps derogatory referral to optical engineers is that 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

they are just ‘ray benders’, but with today’s wide variety of light sources combined with ever tightening manufacturing tolerances, it’s not enough just to know how to use the traditional optical design software. Today’s engineer must recognize the material properties of all the components when deployed into rugged environments. Lasers vary widely in their capability to survive, much less even work in some stressful environments. With military and defense applications one must be cognizant of the demand for absolute reliability in the field. Lives are often in the balance. Over ‘extreme’ temperature ranges optics may move, discolor, or simply fall off due (example thermal mismatch of optics to the housings)! Laser diodes will change in wavelength or perhaps overheat resulting in premature failure, or will just not work at all. I believe in almost all of the military hardware which utilizes lasers and optical components, it is those components that define the ultimate reliability of the system. FLC has worked with demanding applications both for deployment in battlefield conditions and in space based applications. Our manufacturing people are not only aware but capable of producing repeatedly highly reliable packages which include combining components, optics, electronics and housings to the most difficult of standards. When working with our manufacturers we insist that they must have the capability to test and qualify products to the application requirements and to share their test results with our clients. Today FLC has lasers deployed, for example, on the International Space Station. Complete laser optical systems, referred to commonly as ‘laser modules’, are routinely required by our customers.

Here Today, Gone tomorrow? Many of today’s conventional laser diode companies have pulled out of various industrial markets. Customers who once relied on the large (typically Asian) laser diode manufacturers have found that products they normally purchased have simply been discontinued, sometimes without much notice. Some companies even expressly prohibit the sale of their products to the military market. Another ‘class’ of laser manufacturer was the ‘telecom’ supplier. Many of these capable companies slashed their offerings, and have not successfully returned to the general industrial market after the ‘bubble burst’ in telecoms. Still a third class are laser diode manufacturers who are obsessed with providing to niche markets, and who would prefer to have a partner to service markets that they don’t care to actively support. FLC knows many of these suppliers. The loss of these suppliers has put pressure on customers to find compatible lasers wherever


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

possible. Often the new suppliers will be smaller, perhaps less known manufacturers who may or often may not be able to maintain the previous pricing. Worse yet is that required performance parameters may need to renegotiated with the new vendor, with the occasional consequence that these parameters may no longer be obtainable. FLC is capable of sourcing new suppliers, beginning even at the die level, and then providing the necessary integration as required to help the customer continue their manufacturing and development. Not all things are possible, but a great many things are. Another motto for Frankfurt Laser is: ‘Gone today, here tomorrow!’ Let us deal with your sourcing issues, and/or your custom requirements.

Where the Applications are At Frankfurt Laser Company we do not specialize in just one market. While pursing a singular or niche market might be lucrative for some manufacturers, such as in today’s growing biomedical markets, it can be self limiting. Whole markets have disappeared together with many of the companies that served them. Let’s not forget the Dot.Com era, and the telecom companies that sprung up all over the planet to bring forth new technologies to supply the projected bandwidth that would be required. As another example of changing times, requirements in the optical storage and media markets are evolving. Solid state devices are replacing everything from media recording devices to on-line streaming. As 780nm (CD recording) evolved to 650nm (DVD), to 405nm (HD-DVD, also known as Blu-ray), the demand for these lasers will continue to trend downwards as more solid state devices are adopted. At FLC we focus on the often smaller and specific requirements of the customer as he develops his application, and interactively develop the final specification for the photonic components required. Then, most importantly, we lock in the supply chain to produce these components. In the defense sectors many new requirements have emerged which demand that the associated supplier must have longevity in order to support both quantity and sustainability of the product line. Since we supply across a broad market base, we provide manufacturing capability willing to support the esoteric, and the exotic. They are long term, have survived the down-turn (as have we), and are willing to extend themselves to provide technology and quality. Frankfurt Laser Company has the capability and expertise to use its knowledge base in a way to afford the defense industry customer choices he may previously have been unaware of.

In the defense sectors many new requirements have emerged which demand that the associated supplier must have longevity in order to support both quantity and sustainability of the product line. Examples of Components and Systems for Defence Due to the sensitive nature of most defense products, especially those supplied under NDA to our clients, as well as proscribed restrictions of ITAR, we can only point to the most general of products which one might consider – COTS (commercial, off the shelf). That being said, many of these components can be redeployed by our customers and built upon to create more specific ‘defense related’ products. Though customization will perhaps require licensing, registrations, and technical agreements, there is some flexibility to work with FLC’s office and partners in the USA (for example), to develop variations of existing products, and/or develop new components and subsystems. Where needed FLC can provide a ‘firewall’ to help our customers maintain ITAR compliance. Here are some of the various defense related products one can find at FLC today: • An existing product, that is also in development (for higher power output as an example) are 1550nm illuminators. This has been a growing area of interest for various military organizations. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

Frankfurt Laser Company’s global customer base, combined

• High power pulsed lasers for range finding is a well known application. There are currently new requirements for different wavelengths and power outputs to limit detection. • Light sources for detection (bomb sniffing), which may use all kinds of light sources, such as QCLs, are both available and under development for new applications. • MID IR Lasers for thermal imaging as well as for detection are being deployed more frequently.

with the wide variety of

Tomorrow’s Technology Today

markets in which it is involved, has positioned the company to use its extensive knowledge to serve the defense industry in a unique fashion.

While most of these applications may be common today, many have become more demanding in terms of reach, new wavelengths in order to avoid detection, higher power (pulse and CW) to produce adverse effects on the ‘enemy’, and various new technologies such as double use systems as in identification combined with high speed line of sight communication (also referred to as free space communication by the telecom industry). And, of course, reliability is demanded when any product is selected by defense suppliers.

• Visible, considered as ‘traditional’, red lasers for target identification, deployed on weapons, as well as green laser modules that can work at both low and elevated temperature ranges are available today. FLC has products that have achieved a breakthrough in temperature performance. WTG (wide temperature green) laser modules are offered today off-the-shelf. • High power visible lasers for targeting, and visual disruption or warning systems are also deployed currently. Light sources for beacons, location or friend/foe exist, but requirements often change. Dual wavelength lasers for combining target illumination and identification are more exotic, but usually achievable with existing components.

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Frankfurt Laser Company’s global customer base, combined with the wide variety of markets in which it is involved, has positioned the company to use its extensive knowledge to serve the defense industry in a unique fashion. It is what we are not that makes us a good partner for our defense industry customers. • We are not tied to just a singular market. • We are not working with just one or two types of components. • We are not encumbered with a non-flexible management team. • We are not so big as to ignore the opportunities provided by the unique, sometimes low volume customer or application, which can be common in the R&D efforts of even the largest military supplier. What we are is willing to attempt what has been not attempted before. • We are willing to go the extra mile to resource the best manufacturer for a given job. • We are willing to meet the objectives of the customer, not necessarily force them into a ‘bag of solutions’. • And we are ready to begin today to serve all of our defense industry clients.


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

In Summary In my twenty plus years’ experience in all aspects of the photonics industry, this author has repeatedly tried to inform the young engineer that it is equally important to understand why a component exists, as it is to understand it’s function, and even more important, not to pursue solely the lowest possibly priced components. It should be understood (but unfortunately not often thought about) that the laser diode is still a relatively young product – all too often people think of it as they would any common electronic component, such as a resistor. As I have discussed, suppliers of photonic components are really limited in number, produce mainly small quantities of products, and may concentrate on only a limited number of markets. After the invention of the semiconductor laser diode, volume based applications emerged such as telecoms, and the aforementioned optical storage markets. Other volume applications, much smaller in comparison, sprung up such as bar codes, and alignment lasers. However, these applications, in terms of the laser diode, have been targeted mainly to larger volume applications; hence as lasers for the higher volume applications changed, or dried up, many manufacturers and customers have had to look rapidly elsewhere. Today’s defense industry engineers and designers need to remain vigilant when selecting photonic components of any type but especially so with laser diodes, as applications are somewhat volatile. However, if you start out with a partner who is dedicated to keeping up-to-date with suppliers, who will work for an economical solution that is fair to all parties, and who will work as your partner committed to supporting the lifetime of your product, you should find this to be the best decision you have made.

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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: MILITARY OPTO-ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS TECHNOLOGY

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 By Daniel Emery BBC Technology reporter

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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 British Army uses laser dazzlers to save lives By David Hambling 09 August 10

15

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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