BAE Systems is developing a new laser solution in order to enhance commanders’ ability to observe enemy activities over greater distances.
According to the company, the laser-developed atmospheric lens (LDAL) can also be used as a ‘deflector shield’ to protect friendly aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops from incoming attacks by high-power laser weapons.
BAE Systems Futurist and Technologist professor Nick Colosimo said: “Working with some of the best scientific minds in the UK, we’re able to incorporate emerging and disruptive technologies and evolve the landscape of potential military technologies in ways that, five or ten years ago, many would never have dreamed possible.”
The LDAL works by simulating naturally occurring phenomena and temporarily changing the Earth’s atmosphere into lens-like structures, which can be used to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves, such as light and radio signals.
The solution is said to copy the reflective properties of the ionosphere and desert mirages.
It simulates both of these effects by using a high-power laser system to exploit a physics phenomena named the ‘Kerr Effect’, in order to temporarily ionise or heat a small region of atmosphere.
Developed at the company’s military aircraft facility in Warton, Lancashire, UK, the system has been evaluated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and specialist optical sensors company LumOptica.
Image: Atmospheric lens could revolutionise the future of battlefield observation. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.