Battlefield Lasers and Opto-electronics Systems (Review Paper)
During the last four decades or so, there has been an explosive growth in commercial, industrial, medical, scientific, technological, and above all, military usage of laser devices and systems. In fact, lasers have influenced every conceivable area of application during this period. While the expansion of non-military application spectrum of lasers is primarily driven by emergence of a large number of laser wavelengths followed by ever increasing power levels and reducing price tags at which those wavelengths could be generated, the military applications of lasers and related electro-optic devices have grown mainly because of technological maturity of the lasers that were born in the late 1960's and the early 1970's. Lasers have been used in various military applications since the early days of development that followed the invention of this magical device. There has been large scale proliferation of lasers and opto-electronic devices and systems for applications like range finding, target designation, target acquisition and tracking, precision guided munitions, etc. during 1970's and 1980's. These devices continue to improve in performance and find increased acceptance and usage in the contemporary battlefield scenario. Technological advances in optics, opto-electronics, and electronics, leading to more rugged, reliable, compact and efficient laser devices are largely responsible for making these indispensable in modern warfare. Past one decade or so has seen emergence of some new potential areas of usage. Some of these areas include rapid growth in the usage of lasers and opto-electronics devices and systems for electrooptic countermeasure (EOCM) applications, test and evaluation systems that can perform online functionality checks on military opto-electronics systems and also their interoperability. In this paper, an overview of the current and emerging military applications of lasers and opto-electronics systems has been given with an outline on the likely trends leading to performance enhancement of the existing systems and emergence of new application areas. Also, a brief on the developmental activity in the field of laser and opto-electronics devices and systems at Laser Science and Technology Centre (LASTEC), Delhi has been given.
Defence Science Journal, 2010, 60(2), pp.189-196, DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.14429/dsj.60.339
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