Conformal HEL Phased Array Beam Control with Acquisition Pointing and Tracking (APT)
ABSTRACT: Optical Physics Company (OPC) combined two pioneering sets of optical phased array technologies during the first phase of this project. These are OPC"s Holographic Beam Control (HBC) and Nutronics"Conformal Laser Weapon System (CLAWS). HBC addresses target illumination, aimpoint selection, aimpoint maintenance, stair-mode correction and kill assessment; whereas, CLAWS addresses local and target path phasing control. Their synergistic use performs target path wavefront control and local phase control: With CLAWS running a high bandwidth inner loop, HBC provides a mid-bandwidth outer loop to measure CLAWS biases, compensate stair mode errors and steer the beam to the desired aimpoint on the target. During the second phase, the OPC-Nutronics team will demonstrate the closed loop real time execution of HBC+CLAWS control algorithms in the laboratory using a low power laser and a processor suitable for a real-time field test. At the end of Phase II, with laboratory demonstration of real time operation, the technical maturity of HBC+CLAWS will advance to TRL 4 or better. BENEFIT: The HBC+CLAWS combination forms a viable path to practical HEL phased array systems in the air and on the ground. The target application is a conformal HEL system in a jet fighter. Conformal HEL designs (enabled by the proposed beam control method) promise extremely lightweight, high performance and cost-effective options which can enhance utility and speed deployment. The conformal design and advanced features of the proposed beam control system also make it suitable for imaging. The HEL system can be a reconnaissance as well as a target engagement tool. One can foresee deployment on remotely piloted armed unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) where the imaging function provides broad area surveillance, and the HEL function negates identified targets. Another application is space-based HEL defense which becomes practical when large apertures can be deployed on panels providing both high resolution imaging, aimpoint selection and high quality hit spots to defend against space-borne threats. The beam control methods developed during this project are also applicable to ground based space object imaging as well as commercial aircraft and ship defense. OPC has already demonstrated success with transitioning technologies developed with SBIR funding to ongoing research and acquisition programs. In particular, OPC is building deformable mirrors to meet the needs of several government and prime contractor customers.
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