Target Identification via Laser-Material Interaction
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
The Advanced Tactical Laser is being developed as an platform for high-precision strike missions utilizing a laser weapon mounted to a tactical aircraft. Boresighted cameras provide the system with high-resolution imagery for the identification and discrimination of targets of interest. The ATL will allow precision, near-instantaneous delivery of laser energy from a long stand-off distance, with enough power density to melt metal. The ATL will thus allow the disability of vehicles, command and communications infrastructure, or even missiles, without substantial collateral damage or casualties. In situations where there is some uncertainty about the visual identification of targets, the coherent nature of the radiation from the ATL allows a more in-depth determination of what is being targeted by probing the material and surface characteristics of the irradiated object. By observing the polarization aspects of the scattered light from an illuminated object, one can determine the approximate engagement geometry and material. The total amount of light detected then allows classification of the object based on surface roughness and texture. The dynamic aspects of both the polarization and detected scatter allows detection of object motion or rotation, providing further opportunity for classification of the object's material, surface finish, and threat probability.
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