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BAE, Navy Successfully Test Laser Tactical System

Photonics.com
Aug 2011
ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 31, 2011 — BAE Systems, Boeing and the US Navy conducted a successful field test of the Mk 38 MOD 2 Tactical Laser System (TLS), demonstrating the high-energy laser system’s ability to identify and classify hostile targets, and to track and engage threat vessels at tactically relevant ranges.

The US Navy awarded BAE a $2.8 million contract in April 2011 to fund the demonstration. (See: BAE to Demo Tactical Laser System for Navy)

The Mk 38 TLS concept is a solid-state high-energy laser addition to the Mk 38 naval machine gun systems that are currently deployed on most surface combatants. The laser system enables precise targeting and counter-material disabling effects, all within the footprint of the Mk 38 mount.

The test system configuration fired against air and surface maritime targets, and swarm tests were conducted to simulate an attack by a large number of fast, maneuvering small boats, intermingled with neutral boat traffic.


The TLS couples a solid-state high-energy laser weapon module with the Mk 38 naval machine gun system. (Image: BAE Systems)

“The Mk 38 Tactical Laser System concept was able to discriminate specific target features while tracking fast-moving small boats. It was able to engage precise targets with laser energy at tactically relevant ranges," said Chris Abbott, science advisor for commander, US Second Fleet, which sponsored the demonstration.

"The optics associated with control of the laser allow significantly greater capability in target identification, the ability to conduct precision tracking and engagement, and provide the option of nonlethal engagements, which are critical features to enhance ship defenses," said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of weapon systems for BAE Systems.

For the test demonstration, BAE and Boeing used the Air Force Research Laboratory Matrix laser test bed and Boeing's 10-kW International Photonic Group (IPG) fiber laser.

For more information, visit: www.baesystems.com  


GLOSSARY
fiber laser
A laser in which the lasing medium is an optical fiber doped with low levels of rare-earth halides to make it capable of amplifying light. Output is tunable over a broad range and can be broadband. Laser diodes can be used for pumping because of the fiber laser's low threshold power, eliminating the need for cooling.
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