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High Accuracy Laser Beam Rider Detection


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: To develop and demonstrate technologies that are capable of detecting the lasers associated with Laser Beam Rider (LBR) Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) with high angular accuracy. 

DESCRIPTION: The ATGMs pose a significant threat to Army combat vehicles. With advanced sensors and countermeasures, ATGMs can be detected from significant distances, and countered prior to impacting their intended targets. The LBR ATGM launchers project an infrared laser field by which the missile is guided to the target. This laser energy can be detected to help warn vehicle crews, or aid other systems in locating the inbound missile. Unlike laser rangefinders and designators which use relatively higher powered lasers, LBR laser energy is much lower since it only requires a one-way guidance link from the launcher to the back of the missile in flight. The laser energy that impacts the ground vehicle is very low, making it both difficult to detect and find its origin. Current state-of-the-art, commercially available laser warning systems are capable of detecting LBR ATGMs and locating them within a quadrant, but do not provide the angular accuracy required to enable improved countermeasure solutions, evasive maneuvers, or line-of-bearing for counter fire. Fielded laser warning systems also typically have beam-rider sensitivity on the order of 5-10uW/cm^2, or are not optimally designed to detect beam-riders. Instead, they are designed optimally for rangefinder or laser designator detection, with a reduced capability to detect beam-riders. The goal of this Small Business Innovation Research is to develop and demonstrate sensor technologies capable of accurately detecting this laser energy at the maximum effective ranges of LBR ATGMs. The requested system shall detect lasers in wavelengths from 800-1100nm, with an objective accuracy of +/- 1 degree, and have a nominal sensitivity of 1uW/cm^2. The system should also be capable of disregarding light sources that are not lasers. Power, interface, and costs targets will be discussed during Phase 1. 

PHASE I: The goal of Phase 1 is to produce a conceptual design and breadboard suitable to demonstrate the component technology in a laboratory environment. Surrogate lasers may be used to emulate the laser of the actual missile systems in order to demonstrate the concept. 

PHASE II: The goal of Phase 2 is to produce a prototype component that could potentially be integrated with other military sensors for Army ground vehicles. This prototype will be demonstrated both in the laboratory and controlled field environments in order to show the laser detection capability at long ranges. The prototype may be tested against actual ATGM guidance lasers depending on their availability and security considerations. Required Phase 2 deliverables will include two major design reviews, technical documentation of the prototype, operator’s manual, the prototype hardware, and a final demonstration. 

PHASE III: The Phase III developed component will be a Technical Readiness Level 6, and is intended to transition to the Army Vehicle Protection Suite Program of Record. The product could be a stand-alone component integrated on to Army ground vehicles, but will more likely be integrated and packaged with other laser warning and threat warning sensors. Potential commercial applications for this sensor technology include laser surveying, ranging, and optical communications. 


1: Title : Laser Warning Receiver, Corporate Author : NATIONAL AIR INTELLIGENCE CENTER WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH Personal Author(s) : Mei, Jin Full Text :

2:  Patents/Research Patent: Laser beam rider guidance system Publication Number: US 4111385 A

3:  Patent: Panoramic laser warning receiver for determining angle of arrival of laser light based on intensity Publication number: US 9448107 B2

4:  Market Potential:

KEYWORDS: Ground Combat Vehicle, Laser, Anti-Tank Guided Missile, ATGM, Laser Beam Rider, Electronic Warfare, Infrared, Sensor, Detector, Laser Warning Receiver 


Andrew Hill 

(443) 861-0590 

Scott Hayward 

(443) 861-0633 

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