Cassidian, the defence and security division of EADS, has developed an electronic defence system which, for the first time, will provide vehicles, ships and helicopters with reliable protection against laser-guided weapons.
“The threat from lasers to armed forces on a mission is continuing to increase, because weapons such as laser-guided missiles or sniper rifles with laser targeting optics are widespread,” explains Elmar Compans, head of the Sensors & Electronic Warfare unit at Cassidian. “Through the combination of our many years of experience with laser warning sensors and the most varied defence lasers, as well as the use of commercially available components, we have succeeded in developing a uniquely effective, targeted countermeasure.”
The defence concept, which Cassidian has developed for the German procurement authority, is based on the so-called “dazzling” process, which means dazzling the targeting optics of the enemy missile with an eye-safe laser beam. Laser-guided missiles are guided to their targets by the marksman keeping the weapon station’s sight aimed at the target. The weapon station either sends control signals to the missile via laser, or it aims a laser beam itself at the target, whose reflections then guide the missile to its target. In both cases, the marksman can no longer track the target due to the dazzling beam so that the missile no longer receives any targeting information and shoots past the target. The most common countermeasure currently is to spray artificial fog.
Cassidian’s defence system uses special multispectral technology which is also effective against protective goggles. The use of an eye-safe laser is important to be able to use the system even in a civil environment, e.g. on board ships or helicopters in harbours or airports. This means that the dazzling is not associated with eye damage. Working together with the Luftwaffe Institute of Aviation Medicine, Cassidian has carried out a medicinal study and shown that the dazzle effect falls below the radiant flux density which is permissible for eyes. For protection to be effective, a threat must be quickly and precisely detected by a sensor with a very high directional resolution, which enables the precise targeting of the laser beam. Cassidian’s defence system has demonstrated its effectiveness during successful field tests at the Bundeswehr Technical Centre 81 in Greding. Further tests are to follow next year.
Date: Dec 20, 2012