07 September 2010

Anti-Missile Lasers for Helicopters?

DARPA and the Army are throwing money at the idea.

A new laser technology aims to protect helicopters in combat operations from heat-seeking missiles.
The laser-based defense system, under development by the University of Michigan (UM) and Omni Sciences, Inc., a UM spin-off company, could essentially "blind" self-guiding ordinance as it nears its flying target.
"Our lasers give off a signal that's like throwing sand in the eyes of the missile," said Mohammed Islam, a professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science at UM.
Islam said that the technology could save soldiers' lives in hostile environments.
"Battlefield terrain in places like Afghanistan and Iraq can be so rough that our troops have often had to rely on helicopters, and they can be easy targets for enemies with shoulder-launched missiles," Islam said.
Using inexpensive, off-the-shelf telecommunications fiber optics, Islam is developing sturdy and portable "mid-infrared supercontinuum lasers" that could scramble heat-seeking weapons from a distance of 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) away.
The technology is being commercialized through Islam's company, Omni Sciences, which has recently received $1 million in grants from the Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build a second-generation prototype. The Army grant is for $730,000 and the DARPA funding is $300,000.
The lasers are promising for helicopter protection because their robust, simple design can withstand shaky helicopter flight and their mid-infrared supercontinuum mode can effectively jam missile sensors.

Look, I'm as tolerant as the next guy. I hate the idea of "Burn a Koran Day" and I have no objections to the NYC mosque. But really, you've got a guy building anti-missile defenses for US helicopters named "Mohammed Islam"? Can't we just call him "Mo" and find some other way to fudge his last name?

In the meantime, I wonder how eye-safe these laser will be when they dazzle someone on the ground and the ACLU (the 21st-century Ambulance-chasing-corps) goes dashing off to court with an injunction that forbids all combat save makeshift spears.

By: Brant


EastwoodDC said...

"Mohammed Islam" is probably about as common as "John Smith". I think we are stuck with both.

Brant said...

Oh I'm sure - but I still find it amusing :)