A new infrared laser defense system was introduced that will protect an aircraft from an incoming heat-sensitive missiles by virtually blinding them. The new laser system which is roughly the size of a DVD player will be used in combat operations and will also be able to help law enforcement expose drugs and explosives, a report said.
This new system was developed by Scientist Mohammad Islam at the University of Michigan. He said, “We’ve used good, old-fashioned stuff from your telephone network to build a laser that has no moving parts”. This new laser emits a multitude of wavelengths which fall in the infrared range. Just like the Sun, the infrared light from the lasers warms the heat-sensor of the incoming missile. The heat sensor is used to track an aircraft. This is done by tracking the aircraft’s engine and the exhaust where hot fumes are sent out.
These new lasers mask those signatures left behind by an aircraft by heating the sensor on the missile. “The pilot can then take evvasive meunuvers to escape from the projectile of the missile”, Islam said. Other firms such as Boeing are working on destroying an incoming missile using lasers rather than evading them. However the Boeing laser is quite large and uses lot of electricity.
The first prototype was developed in 2008 and by 2011 scientists expect they will be able to field test the device. The size of the device and its relative simplicity is an attractive offering and helicopters will be the first to get the device. The device can also be used to track and locate drugs and explosives. “Each chemical has what’s called a spectral fingerprint, a particular set of wavelengths that set them vibrating like a tuning fork and this fingerprint for drugs and explosives lies in the infrared range”, said Islam.