Lasers are here to stay -now, how do you detect them? The recent at-sea tests of the Navy’s Laser Weapon System have ushered in a new era—the age of “Laser Wars”—where there is an increasing role for directed-energy weapons in the battlespace. How will commanders detect, assess, and counter laser or laser-assisted threats in this new operational environment to protect warfighters and ensure mission success. Lasers engage at the speed of light, effectively point-to-point along the line of sight, at wavelengths usually not visible to the human eye. This means that the laser systems entering this era have a low probability of being detected and intercepted. A current laser warning receiver (LWR) that detects laser or laser-assisted threats relies on direct or near-direct illumination by the laser. This may be sufficient to protect individual Navy assets against a laser threat, but will be insufficient to meet the spectrum dominance and battlespace awareness that the new era of “Laser Wars” demands.
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