Laser beam weapons have ignited the imagination of millions that watched science fiction movies. Besides the Hollywood studio’s use, scientists – mainly in the US – have been trying to build operational weapon systems that will use laser beams instead of projectiles.
These attempts were unsuccessful so far in spite of huge investments. The US has invested in the 747 carried anti ballistic laser (ABL) systems but the program is on long hold.
Israel is using laser beams with great success not as a weapon but as a weapon “guide”. This successful application stems directly from the fact that a laser beam is coherent, precise and steady. With these virtues, the laser can be used to illuminate targets from great distances.
If you can illuminate targets why not develop weapons that home on the laser spot? This has been achieved years ago, and many companies are offering laser homing weapon systems.
Recently, Israel aerospace industries (IAI) has unveiled an operational concept that is based on the use of many laser designators.
The MBT weapon division of IAI is manufacturing different laser directed weapon systems, some highly classified. Now the division is using these systems for a new combat concept that will be based on multiple designators that will be networked. They explain that the fact that laser designators have become lighter and cheaper, enable their vast use, there is “Dramatic” increase in the use of laser guided weapons by air-forces worldwide.
Not everything is exposed by IAI, but from the details we received it can be said that it is based on the sophisticated connection 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”. An anti terror force identifies a target but is unable to open fire because it is an inferior location that will not enable efficient fire. The target details are automatically relayed to the command and control system and it allocates another unit that is well located to destroy the enemy, using laser guided weapons.
Each of the laser beams, is coded a fact that enables to allocate a weapon system to each designator or some to many “the combinations are many and only the combat requirements are the factor that determines the numbers “. The MBT division not only developed the networked designators system, but offers a variety of laser guided weapon systems to go with it. Here again what is presented is just the tip of a variety of such weapon system but most are classified.
The Nimrod -3 is one of the laser guided weapons system. This missile has a range of 50 KMs and according to IAI a CEP of 1 meter. 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 brings it to a very accurate hit. The laser guidance with its innovative networked designators can be the guidance to other exotic weapons. The FireBall is a laser homing 120/121mm mortar shell, with dual mode precision homing- GPS & Laser. Fireball is designed for single shot kill, and it can be launched from rifled or smooth-bore tubes. Fireball’s guidance system adjusts the bomb’s course by gliding, greatly extending its effective range. With its unique aerodynamic design, Fireball reaches almost twice the range of conventional mortar bombs (up to 15 km). The bomb detects the target as it glides to the laser detection “basket” using GPS navigation, where it acquires the target and homes on it.
Lasers are now enabling anti-terror units to hit hard and precise in the most difficult areas.