BAE Systems pushes non-lethal laser to defend against pirate attacks

BY John McHale

BRISTOL, England-BAE Systems demonstrated a prototype laser device that will serve as an effective non-lethal deterrent against pirate attacks on commercial vessels, such as oil tankers and container ships. To help combat the growing piracy threat, BAE Systems conducted a study of pirate behavior and a company-wide capability survey. This led to the development of the concept of using a non-lethal laser, which would leave only temporary effects, to distract and deter potential attackers from a distance.

"Laser distraction is part of a wider program of anti-piracy technologies being developed by BAE Systems, including radar systems, which utilizes expertise and knowledge from the military domain," says Bryan Hore, BAE Systems business development manager and the lead for the anti-piracy program. "The aim of the laser distraction project is to develop a non-lethal deterrent to pirates, which has no lasting effects, which can work in a maritime environment, be operated by the crew at no risk, and be cost-effective."

Click to Enlarge
This artist's rendering depicts how a new BAE Systems non-lethal laser might help merchant vessels repel pirate attacks.

The laser beam is capable of providing a visual warning to pirates at distances greater than two kilometers, and of disorientating attackers sufficiently at lesser distances so that weapons cannot be targeted effectively. At all times, the power levels of the laser remain eye-safe.

"The effect is similar to when a fighter pilot attacks from the direction of the sun," says Roy Clarke, BAE Systems capability technology lead for laser photonic systems. "The glare from the laser is intense enough to make it impossible to aim weapons like AK47s or RPGs, but doesn't have a permanent effect."

The laser was trialed during night and day in varying weather conditions at the Worcester facility. Cameras were placed at the target location to demonstrate the level of beam intensity and divergence produced by the test runs. Beam oscillation techniques were also demonstrated.

The researchers have developed a bespoke neodymium yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser which is an effective deterrent at relatively low power levels. By utilizing targeting systems and changing beam patterns, the distraction effect can be made more pronounced and be used against multiple targets.

"We successfully showed that the laser works not just during the night, but also in full daylight," Clarke says. "But, there are many more requirements to meet before placing a non-lethal laser weapon on commercial ships."

More Military & Aerospace Electronics Current Issue Articles
More Military & Aerospace Electronics Archives Issue Articles


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.


The Innovation That Matters™ Quiz

Innovation is one of the key drivers in the Defense industry. View this short video of Leon Woo, VP of Engineering at Mercury Systems, on the role of innovation. Then, answer 3 simple questions correctly to be entered into a drawing to win an Eddie Bauer fleece jacket!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR TWO MOST RECENT WINNERS. "Nick from SPARWAR" and "Bridget from AOC."


Military & Aerospace Photos

Related Products

PC/104 SBC and Peripherals

Kontron PC/104 Standalone Single Board Computers (SBCs) serve in every format, even with consiste...

Shipboard Peripheral Replacement System (SPRS™)

SPRS combines the advantages of modern off-the-shelf technology with a robust mechanical design t...

Military/Aerospace/Harsh Enviroment Fiber Optics

Full-Service State-of-the-Art Harsh Environment Custom Fiber Optic Assemblies. Assemblies for Vac...

Related Companies

Kontron

Driving the world’s embedded computing platforms Kontron is a global leader in embedded computing technology.&n...

Digi-Key Corp

Distributes electronic components and ships product to more than 130 countries worldwide from its single location in ...
Wire News provided by   

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Gen3 serial interconnects such as 40G Ethernet, QDR/FDR10 Infiniband, PCIe Gen3 offer significant performance benefits for OpenVPX Systems.  This webcast will outline OpenVPX Signal Integrity challenges...
Sponsored by:

Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the design considerations for blending general-purposes processors (GPUs), general-purpose graphics processors (GPGPUs), field-programmable ...
Sponsored by:

Advantages of Intel Architecture Products and Wind River Solutions in Military & Aerospace Applications

This webinar explains the individual advantages of the Intel Architecture hardware, available for long-life supply, and the WRS software portfolio.  There are extraordinary advantages of combining such ...
Sponsored by:

social activity

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE