Lockheed Martin is considering sole-sourcing lasers for its targeting systems from BAE Systems Avionics, a move that could see the UK company become the major supplier of such devices.

Robert Coutts, Lockheed Martin executive vice-president systems integration, visited BAE's Edinburgh facility before the Farnborough show to discuss the company's potential role on targeting systems including pods and airframe-integrated systems.

The move could see BAE becoming Lockheed Martin's sole laser source, says Coutts. The two companies are also working to define their roles on the targeting system for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The UK company's North American business is already a subcontractor on Lockheed Martin's Sniper XR, which won the US Air Force's Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) competition.

BAE has invested heavily in laser manufacturing at its Edinburgh centre. The company is working on targeting technology demonstrator programmes including JOANNA (Joint Airborne Navigation and Attack) with Thales.

The UK company is concentrating on aiming, pointing and other "front-end" technologies.

It is also working on automatic combat/target identification and recognition systems based on laser burst illumination rather than laser inferometry, which has been favoured elsewhere. An industry source describes burst illumination as "similar to taking a photograph with a laser", which allows use of image-processing techniques.

The USAF's ATP requirement included growth provision for combat identification, while the European JOANNA programme is aimed at developing technologies for a future targeting systems such as target recognition and non co-operative targeting.

Source: Flight International