A laser radar (LIDAR) system designed to enable helicopters to fly very low at night and in adverse weather conditions is to be tested next year by the Israeli air force.

The Laser Obstacle Ranging and Display (LORD) system, developed by Israeli company El Op Electro-Optics Industries, scans a 30° horizontal and vertical field of view in front of the helicopter, using an eye-safe narrow-beam fibre laser enabling obstacles to be detected from a distance of 700m (2,300ft). It then creates an image of the area in front of the helicopter based on those scans.

"This laser beam's scanning detects obstacles that in many cases cannot be detected by the pilot's eye," says El Op.

As well as video, the pilot will receive audio warnings from the LORD, which together provide information about the shape and precise location of obstacles.

The fibre laser used for LORD is also used for MUSIC, a system that could protect aircraft from the threat of shoulder-launched missiles. Housed in a small turret, MUSIC detects incoming missiles and emits a narrow laser beam that jams a missile's heat-seeking guidance system, causing it to veer off course (Flight International, 18-24 November 2003).

A LIDAR system for obstacle detection is also being developed for unmanned air vehicles by Northrop Grumman and laser developer Fibertech, and will be tested next year (Flight International, 12-18 October).



Source: Flight International