You are here

Laser Periscope Detection


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems, Ground Sea 

OBJECTIVE: Develop a technology for long-range detection of periscopes in maritime environments using a high-power Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) laser to detect submarine periscopes and submarine optics masts from aircraft at both low and high altitudes. 

DESCRIPTION: The need exists for improved periscope detection and discrimination between periscopes and other objects. An innovative laser periscope detection system would be complementary to the existing radar periscope detection capability to provide cueing and reduce false alarms. Combining data from the current radar detection algorithm with data from an optical detection algorithm will increase the probability of detection, and reduce the probability of false alarms during a mission. The laser periscope detection system should have a standalone mode for aircraft without radar for detecting periscopes. The laser periscope detection system should be integrated with existing or planned future laser systems, including Electro-Optical and Infrared (EO/IR) systems, to maximize capability while reducing the space, weight, and power (SWaP) of the combined system compared to the total for separate systems. Integration may include housing both systems in the same pod, utilizing the same environmental systems and using the same scanner and receivers where possible, data recorders, and displays. The system should be designed to be rugged, compact, and lightweight enough to be used in naval aircraft, both fixed- and rotary-wing platforms such as the P8 and the MH-60 ROMEO and SIERRA in accordance with the applicable Military Standards (specified and included in the references). It is therefore the goal of this program to seek the development of a power-scalable laser system solution that will meet the size, weight, performance, and reliability requirements below while considering component costs for future production of the system. The proposer should consider this development as the innovative advancement and combination of laser and supporting technologies towards the goals stated below. The performance objectives of the laser solution are: 1. Repetition rate, Threshold: 100 hertz 2. High peak power, Threshold: 40 milli-joules/pulse, 5-7 nanosecond pulse width, (low power should be used during design) 3. Wavelength: (1-2 micro-meters) 4. Line width: less than or equal to 0.1 nanometer 5. Laser beam quality M-squared less than 3. 6. Lightweight. (Total weight including the laser head, cooling system, power supply, and control system) Threshold: less than 100 pounds, Objective: less than 60 pounds. 7. Small volume. (Total volume for the cooling system, power supply, control system and laser head) Threshold: less than 3 cubic feet, Objective: less than 2 cubic feet. 8. Ability to be ruggedized and packaged to withstand the shock, vibration, pressure, temperature, humidity, electrical power conditions, etc. encountered in a system built for airborne use. 9. Reliability: Mean time between equipment failure—300 operating hours. 10. Full Rate Production Cost: Threshold <$50,000; Objective <$15,000 (based on 1,000 units) 11. Detection Range: >15 Km (Threshold), >25 Km (Objective) 12. Range Accuracy: 10m 13 Azimuth Accuracy at 15Km: 100m 14. Power: <400 W 15. Wall plug efficiency: Threshold >3%, Objective >5% 16. Field of View: 40 degrees (Threshold), 140 degrees (Objective) 17. Photo receiver Sensitivity: TBD 18. Beam Divergence: 100 mrad < Theta < 215 mrad 19. Probability of detection at 25Km: Threshold: 0.8 Objective 0.9 20. Probability of detection at 10Km: Threshold: 0.9 Objective 0.95 21. Probability of false alarm at 25Km: Threshold: once per day 22. Probability of false alarm at 10Km: Threshold: once per day Due to SWaP, ruggedization requirements and restricted use of hazardous material in airborne applications, the following will not be accepted: argon ion lasers, chemical lasers, and dye lasers. Furthermore, systems using cryogenic cooling will also be discounted. 

PHASE I: Determine and design a viable and robust laser system solution consisting of a single laser that meets or exceeds the requirements specified. Identify technological and reliability challenges of the design approach, and propose viable risk mitigation strategies. The Phase I effort will include the development of prototype plans for Phase II. 

PHASE II: Design, fabricate, and demonstrate a laser system prototype based on the design from Phase I. Test and fully characterize the system prototype. 

PHASE III: Finalize the design and fabricate a shock resistant laser system solution and assist to obtain certification for flight on a NAVAIR R&D aircraft. High-power, pulsed lasers have applications in manufacturing and lithography. Oceanographic bathymetry systems for survey and exploration work would benefit greatly from this laser system solution. 


1: Saleh, B.E.A. Fundamentals of Photonics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1991.

2:  MIL-STD 1399-300A: Electric Power, Alternating Current (metric).

3:  MIL-STD 461 E: Requirements for the Control of Electromagnetic Interference Characteristics of Subsystems and Equipment.

4:  MIL-STD 810G: Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests.

5:  MIL-STD 464 A: Interface Electromagnetic Environmental.

6:  MIL-STD 8591: Airborne Stores, Suspension Equipment and Aircraft-store Interface.

KEYWORDS: Airborne; Anti-Surface Warfare; Periscope Detection; Maritime Environment; Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW); Laser Detection 


Adoum Mahamat 

(301) 342-3378 

Arne Anderson 

(301) 757-3694 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government