Kathleen G. Tatterson
WASHINGTON -- Photonics will play an important role in information, aviation, networked defenses and other key applications for national defense, according to a National Research Council report.
Photonic sensor techniques will be important for future military applications, the Naval Studies Board said in Technology for the US Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force. Systems that identify targets and background clutter use passive multispectral and hyperspectral imaging with 50- to 100-nm-wide bands spread over the visible, near-infrared and short-wave infrared ranges with spatial resolutions for daytime use. "The technology to achieve such capability is off-the-shelf and will even be available in commercial applications," the report said.
Other enabling technologies for warfare in the next century include active multispectral imaging, electronic beamsplitting, video and related imaging technologies, long-range laser designation, polarimetric infrared imaging, improved focal plane array technologies, phase/wavelength diversity for aperture synthesis and passive interferometric (synthetic aperture) imaging.
A key technology
On the fiber optics front, military demand for high bandwidth and data rates will certainly mirror those of commercial interests. High data-rate networks will be a key technology for imagery and other sensor data associated with cooperative engagement capability, cruise missile retargeting, videoconferencing, medical services and training.
The Department of the Navy funded the nine-volume series for which the report is an overview. The council is the principal operating agency of the National Academies of Science and Engineering and is a private, nonprofit institution.
Copies of the report are available for $27 plus $4 for shipping and handling by contacting the National Academy Press at (202) 334-3313 or (800) 624-6242. Volumes 1, 3 and 6 through 9 are available on the Web at www2.nas. edu/nsb