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Cloudy and a chance of rain need not sideline high-energy lasers

Wednesday, February 28, 2018   (0 Comments)

By: David Stoudt  |  February 26, 2018  |  C4ISRNET

Warfighters need to know that the weapons at their disposal will function as expected, when needed. As newer and more advanced kinetic and non-kinetic weapons are matured for introduction into the warfighters’ arsenal, it is essential to understand how and when those weapons can and should be used to achieve the needed effect. We do not get to choose when the enemy engages or when we are required to respond.

Which brings us to a key question for decision-makers considering deployment of directed energy weapons: Are high-energy lasers (HELs) only “fair-weather” weapons?

The potential advantages of HELs are well-documented. HELs have speed-of-light engagement, a deep shot magazine, and low cost per shot compared to kinetic weapons. They can operate as both sensors and weapons, with an individual system often able to deliver a broad range of “scalable effects.” HELs can sense, track, damage and/or destroy many difficult targets, e.g.: fast-moving small boats; rockets, artillery and mortars; unmanned air vehicles/drones. HELs also offer the potential for boost phase intercept of intercontinental ballistic missiles and to engage hypersonic glide vehicles. To be effective, the HEL must deliver the required amount of laser power on the target for the time needed to achieve the desired result. Target irradiance, measured as kW/cm2, not laser output power, is the key concept when thinking about laser lethality and laser weapon effectiveness.

But what if there’s less than ideal weather? How does it affect the target irradiance of an HEL? What specific weather and atmospheric phenomena impact irradiance and how is technology being used to compensate for those effects and maintain HEL effectiveness?  READ MORE...

With over 13,000 members internationally, the Association of Old Crows is an organization for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other information related capabilities. The Association of Old Crows provides a means of connecting members and organizations nationally and internationally across government, defense, industry, and academia to promote the exchange of ideas and information, and provides a platform to recognize advances and contributions in these fields.