JED - September 2016 - 48

TH E H E AT I S O N

L aser s ... O h, Th ey 'r e
No Trou b l e!
By Burt Keirstead

T

his is the second part of a two-part column on
infrared radiators used in infrared countermeasure
(IRCM) systems. The first part, in JED's May issue,
looked at the lamp technology that was used in
early systems. This part looks at the laser technology that has gradually replaced lamp technology as
a more effective way to defeat heat-seeking missiles.

STAR WARS

The Journal of Electronic Defense | September 2016

48

The introduction of lasers posed new systems engineering
considerations for IRCM designers as they worked to incorporate a brightly-focused monochromatic beam to parry away an
incoming missile. Let's explore some of the system trade-offs
that always seem to come with a new technology.
Lasers have been around since the early 1960s. They have
been used in many consumer products that include pointers,
scanners and printers. They have also been used in medical
and industrial applications for surgery and precision drilling.
But the concept of a bright, highly-focused beam as a defensive system was perhaps first imprinted on popular culture
when Luke Skywalker brandished a light saber in "Star Wars"
in 1977. A few years later, Ronald Reagan started the Strategic
Defense Initiative (SDI) that sought to deter the Soviets with
the concept of a high-power laser that would "shoot down" any
ICBM's that targeted the US. It seemed fitting that the nickname for SDI was "Star Wars."
The large lasers that were part of SDI development were
designed to actually destroy a missile warhead. Most platforms being protected by IRCM don't have enough space or
power to accommodate a laser powerful enough to destroy the
incoming missile. So, as in the case of the lamp technology,
the defeat mechanism for the laser comes from having both
enough jamming signal to overcome the infrared signature
of the platform being protected and, modulation on the jamming signal that can disrupt a missile's tracking and guidance and drive it off course. Infrared lasers are attractive
for IRCM because, although the output power levels are much
less than in a destructive laser, they are much higher than
in a lamp and, in general, require less electrical power than a

lamp. But taking advantage of the laser's features presented
a couple of key trade-offs for IRCM designers, having to do
with a laser's temporal coherence (light waves, or wave packets aligned in time to make it monochromatic) and its spatial
coherence (wave, or wave packets aligned in space to give it
tight focus).



JED - September 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - September 2016

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
Nothing to See (Or Hear) Here – Concealing Tactical Communications
Technology Survey: Manpack COMINT and DF Systems
The Heat is On
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - September 2016 - cover1
JED - September 2016 - cover2
JED - September 2016 - 3
JED - September 2016 - 4
JED - September 2016 - 5
JED - September 2016 - The View From Here
JED - September 2016 - 7
JED - September 2016 - insert1
JED - September 2016 - insert2
JED - September 2016 - Conferences Calendar
JED - September 2016 - 9
JED - September 2016 - Courses Calendar
JED - September 2016 - 11
JED - September 2016 - From the President
JED - September 2016 - 13
JED - September 2016 - 14
JED - September 2016 - The Monitor
JED - September 2016 - 16
JED - September 2016 - 17
JED - September 2016 - 18
JED - September 2016 - 19
JED - September 2016 - 20
JED - September 2016 - 21
JED - September 2016 - 22
JED - September 2016 - 23
JED - September 2016 - 24
JED - September 2016 - 25
JED - September 2016 - 26
JED - September 2016 - 27
JED - September 2016 - World Report
JED - September 2016 - 29
JED - September 2016 - 30
JED - September 2016 - 31
JED - September 2016 - 32
JED - September 2016 - 33
JED - September 2016 - Nothing to See (Or Hear) Here – Concealing Tactical Communications
JED - September 2016 - 35
JED - September 2016 - 36
JED - September 2016 - 37
JED - September 2016 - 38
JED - September 2016 - 39
JED - September 2016 - 40
JED - September 2016 - 41
JED - September 2016 - 42
JED - September 2016 - Technology Survey: Manpack COMINT and DF Systems
JED - September 2016 - 44
JED - September 2016 - 45
JED - September 2016 - 46
JED - September 2016 - 47
JED - September 2016 - The Heat is On
JED - September 2016 - 49
JED - September 2016 - 50
JED - September 2016 - 51
JED - September 2016 - EW 101
JED - September 2016 - 53
JED - September 2016 - AOC News
JED - September 2016 - 55
JED - September 2016 - 56
JED - September 2016 - Index of Advertisers
JED - September 2016 - JED Quick Look
JED - September 2016 - cover3
JED - September 2016 - cover4
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