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US Air Force Tests Beam-Control System

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1999
Researchers from the Directed Energy Directorate of the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., have completed a three-month, dynamic compensation experiment that tested the ability of a laser beam control system to correct for the distorting effects of optical turbulence. The immediate beneficiary of the study is the Airborne Laser Program, which is designed to eliminate theater ballistic missiles from more than 200 nautical miles away.

The program manager for the directorate, Lt. Col. Todd Steiner, said the beam-control system, which employs adaptive optics, improved the spot size and peak intensity of a 10-W, 1047-nm Nd:YLF laser by a factor of 5 to 20. The system targeted both a stationary site at a distance of 52.6 km and a Cessna Caravan aircraft moving 70 m/s at an altitude of 11,000 ft and at a distance ranging from 36 to 52 km.

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