Combating Infrared Threats on the Battlefield
- Magazine Article
There have been several news headlines lately about offenders pointing commercial lasers at helicopters or police personnel, temporarily blinding and distracting them. An increasing number of “laser assault” incidents have led to tougher penalties with fines and jail time in various countries. The lasers typically used in these attacks operate in the visible light spectrum; therefore, these lasers can be blocked by special absorbing optical dyes contained in special laser defense eyewear.
On the battlefield, however, modern military equipment and enemy threats utilize lasers that operate in the infrared (IR) spectrum to harm pilots and ground forces. It's difficult to detect these invisible lasers, and a more sophisticated technology is required to block lasers at the IR wavelengths. Many military operations occur at night, requiring warfighters to wear night vision goggles (NVGs). Soldiers and pilots wearing NVG's need protection from friendly forces' IR aiming and pointing lasers as well as threat IR lasers. Protecting warfighters from laser eye damage requires systems designers who have knowledge of the specific wavelengths so they can design systems that block or reflect the specific wavelength of the laser while maximizing the transmission of light at the wavelength needed for operation of the system.