Lasers networking – the ultimate weapon designation

Lasers played major roles in science fiction movies many years ago. The “death rays” killed the enemy and destroyed assets.

For many years scientists, mainly in the US, have been trying to turn this fiction into reality by building operational weapons systems that will use laser beams instead of projectiles.

These attempts have not yet been translated into operational systems.

Israel is using laser beams with great success, not as a weapon but as a weapon “guide”.

This success stems directly from the fact that a laser beam is coherent, precise and steady. With these virtues it can be used to illuminate targets from great distances.

Recently, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has unveiled an operational concept that is based on the simultaneous use of many laser designators.

The MBT weapon division of IAI is manufacturing laser-directed weapons systems, some of which are highly classified.

The division’s people say that there is a continuous, very fast increase in the use of laser-guided weapons by air forces.

Not everything has been revealed by IAI, but from the details we were given it can be said that the concept is based on the sophisticated networking of a great number of laser designators.

This is not enough and can even cause confusion. So the MBT people have developed a command and control system that enables the different designators to “talk” with each other in a plain “language”.

Each of the laser beams is coded, enabling the allocation of a weapons system to each designator, or some to many.

The MBT division not only developed the networked designators system, but offers a variety of laser-guided weapons systems to go with it.

Here again, what is presented is just the tip of a variety of such weapons systems, but most are classified.

The MBT Nimrod 3 is one of the laser-guided weapons systems. This missile has a range of 50km and, according to IAI, a circular error of probability (CEP) of 1m.

A second example is the Griffin 3, a bomb carried by fighter planes. The bomb is brought to the target area by GPS navigation but the laser spot ensures a very accurate hit.

IAI says that the Griffin has a CEP of 5m but confirms that it is producing more advanced weapons of this type, dubbed generally as Next Generation Laser Guided Bomb kits.

These weapons provide air forces with high-precision, 12km stand-off strike capability against ground targets such as bunkers, entrenched tanks, armoured vehicles and other hardened targets.

This capability allows attacks on highly defended targets while eliminating aircraft and aircrew losses, and ensures cost-effective operations, killing more targets with less ammunition.

The conversion kits are compatible with the Mk-82/83/84 GP and other bombs. The kit comprises a front guidance section and a rear fins section, which are attached to a standard bomb, converting it to a “smart” one.

MBT’s smart bombs are combat proven. They can be carried by many types of fighter aircraft, and used with all available designators.

Lasers are light, but what is done with them in development laboratories at IAI is in many cases protected from the light, or rather from the eyes of those who are not directly involved.

In spite of this fact, I can say without any doubt – laser designators networking is a great step ahead, if not a giant step.


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One Response to Lasers networking – the ultimate weapon designation

  1. Maarten Schenk 8 April, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Ignore this comment, just testing the comment system :-)

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