Created: 3/1/1987

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Soviet Tactical Laser Weapons

1 Collation Sopiwrt Brirf


Soviet Tactical Laser Weapons ff/

Soviet Tactical Laser Weapons (U)

Inlcmalloft arcilablr ai of6

Collection Brief is designeduide for intelligence collection against laciical laser weapons that the Soviets could deploy during the next five years. The issue of tactical laser weapons has become critically important as the United States and its Allies begin to deploy large numbers of military subsystems that rely heavily on electro-optic sensors. These sensors could be vulnerable to tactical laser

Over (he past decade, manager* for research and development weapons programs for ihe United States and iu Alliesbeene* class of sensors that will greatly enhance fighting efficiency and effectiveness on the tactical battlefield. These sensor* are generally called electro-optic (EO) sensors and Include seven! types. The forward*looking intra-red sensor (FLIR) epitomizes this application of eiec-tro-cptical technology The FLIR lenses long-wave-lengih infrared radiation,(heat) and produces TV-hke images of objects viewed by the sensor. FLIR images provide distinct tactical advantages for night vision, for detecting camouflaged equipment, and forfirepower systems. There currently are many battlefield platforms hotting FLIRi in thc US Armed Forces These platforms include infantry soldiers, tanks, artillery, attack helicopters, and interdiction aircraft Bj|

Other electro-optic seniors are being introduced into the military inventory, including sensors for precision-guided munitions and missiles. Integration of these sensors into the battlefield is necessary to counter the large number of conventional forces available to Warsa* Pact

All electro-optic sensors, including thc human eye. detect km levels of light or infrared energy. These sensors have an inherent susceptibility to bright light or intense infrared energy This susceptibility can range from temporary masking or blinding tostructural damage to thc sensor. The laser is an ideal weapon to counter EO sensors. Theright visible or infrared light thai, when pointediewing port (aperture) of an EO sensor (or tbe pupil of the cycl. can render tbe sensors inoperative.


Lasers Advertised by Mssbpriborimc-rg *





cl ium-cadmium (cadmium vapor)

G-TO. LPM-ll







MuhpriboriBiorconet opott-import



Weapons operator training Tor laser weapon engage-menu would be somewhat similar to operator training for laser designators This type of training would include specialized courses in target recognition, later safety, and weapon systems operations. This training would probably include development of targetcriteriaariety of targets. Training would emphasize reducing the time required to detect andtget and (educing the time to position the laser beam on the target's EO seniors. Hands-on field training would be part of an overall (raining program, and operator firing accuracy could be fully developed al tbilIpj

the operator training period, emphasis would be on operator safety, physical safety devices, and operational safety doctrine. Physical safetycould include the use of laser safety goggles, fail-safe interlock devices, shrouds, hoods, and rjafflcs. It i> likely that all crew members of thc laser vehicle would receive first aid training in laser-related acci-


Appendix A

importance of the laser ties in the special nature of the light it emits.esult of this special nature, lasers are designed to emit light thatery small beam spread as compared to that possible withsources of light. The lightaser will normally beingle color (monochromatic).it is possible to construct lasers thatreat deal of energy in their narrow beam. The ability toight beamreat deal of energy, but with litde spread, meansaser canits light energy in i'small spotreat distance. Thus, certain lasers canarget with enough energy per square centimeter to cause damage from distances of at least several kilometers.

In order to understandaser works and why its output bas these properties, we first have toew facts abouteam of light consists of plane waves.ingle wave the electric and magnetic fields making up the light wave oscillate up and down similar to the motion of waves in an ocean.

There are several features that characterize light waves- The first is the wavelengthhich is the distance between successive peaks of tbe wave. The wavelength determines tbe color of tbe light. For lasers, it is common to measure the light's wavelength tn terms of micrometers (jimk One micrometer is one-milliontheter. Visible light rangesrn (blue)5 urn (red) in wavelength. Light with wavelengths shorterrn is called ultraviolet (and. for very abortays and gammaight with wavelengths longerrn is called infrared (and, for very long wavelengths,waves, microwaves, and radiohe next feature of the light wave is its amplitude, which measures the strength of tbe electromagnetic fields. Thc amplitudeight wave determines itswhich is the amount of energy per unit time per unit area that the light wave will deliver to the target. The third feature of the light wave is more subUc. but important. This is called the phase. Consider two light

waves traveling in Ihe same direction and with exactly the same wavelength and amplitude except thai tbe peak of one waveoint before the peak of the other wave. Then these two waves are said to differ in phase. If two waves have the same phase andthey will add toingle wave of higher amplitude. Waves tbat differ in phase will combine toingle wave of lower, possiblyamplitude.

The key to thc laser ii the process called stimulatedollection of atoms can be "pumped" by adding energy to ihem. This energy will be emittederiod of lime when tbe atoms radiate light of several specific wavelengths (spontaneousowever, when one of the pumped atoms is struck by light at one of these wavelengths, the atom is more likely to radiate additional light of the sameand phase as thc incident light. This is the process known as stimulated emission.ertain percentage of the atoms have been pumpedopulationhe stimulated emission can continuehain reaction, greatly amplifying tbe incidem light.esult of the repeated stimulated emission process, tbe emitted light will be extremely intense, in phasend of theevice that utiliies (bis principle of stimulated emission to produce intense, coherent monochromatic light is calledght amplification by rtimulated emission ofhis contrasts wilh light from ordinary sources (such as light bulbs, whichixture of waves with different wavelengths, phases, and amplitudes) ^

For our purposes, the most important result of these features of laser light is that it willery small beam spread and will deposit most of its energymall area on thc surfaceistant tat get flfc

Generally, in order lo gel ihe moit ti|hi outater, Ibe amplified light hasake several passes through thc medium. There may also be several outputpossible, and the right one has to be selected. For these reasons, optical elements such as mirrors havee provided lo tune the laser to tbe right wavelength and ensure multiple passes. Some lasers amplify light originally produced by randomemissions. These are called oscillators Others amplify light fed from another laser and are called amplifiers af*)

Types of Lasers

There are numerous types of lasers Snd new lasers are being discovered frequently. However,ew lasers are likely to be useful for battlefield damage weapons Tbe remainder of this section willon laser devices and related equipment and methods cither identified as having battlefield utility or identified as being of great interest to the Soviets, even if their battlefield potential is not fully^

There are two generic types of lasers classified by output characteristics. Continuous wave (CW) lasersight consisting of closely spaced spikes for eitended periods (seconds morel and are continuously pumped. Pulsed lasers emit short pulses of very high power. They may be tepeatedly pulsedaser-dependent rateew types are strictly one-shut devices!

Lasers are most commonly categorized by theirmediumolid-state lasers employ glasses, crystals, or semiconductors. Liquid lasers use dyes that are dissolvedolvent and are now thought to be of weapons interest. There arc types of liquid and tohd-ttaie lasers that can be luned toas lasers can be singly pulsed, repetitively pulsed, or CW. In most weapons-class gas lasers, the lasing gas flows through tbe laser region. These (lowing gas lasers can also be open cycle, in which, after lasing, the gases are exhausted or closed cycle where the gases are recycled. Gas lasers can store targe amounts of energy per unit weight and can more easily exhaust waste heat than can solid-state lasers Major disadvantages include the presence of phjmbing and low output per unit volume of lasant.

There are various schemes byaser can be pumped. Thc choice of pumping scheme depends on the required properties of the lasant; tbe output; repetition rate; and volume, weight, and packaging. Some common pumping schemes includeright source (suchenon Rashlamp or plasman chemical lasers, chemicalproduce thc lasant in anhemical transfer laser, an additional gas species is excited and transfers its energy to thc lasant. In pbotodissociaiion lasers, the pump light actshemical species. These lasers are sometimes referred to as chemical lasers for this reason. Electron beams and/or electric discharges can pump some types of solid-state (semiconductor) or gas lasers. Gas dynamic lasers work byealed gas to expandoule."Jff

The most common way of designating lasers is by lasant

For each of the following laser types we give the typical output wavelengths, chief pumping schemes, typical output characteristics, and appropriate%*

tatc Lasers

AG Users

lasant. Neodymiurn-doped yttrium aluminum garnet crystalrn

Output Pulsed (nanoseconds) up to IHi pulsed repetition frequencyatts

Pumping- Photopumped ia thc ultravioletoderate output laser with good-beam-quality thermal properties and high gain. High gain and crystal growth problems limit energy output. Used in many rangefinden,designators, and laboratory work (otherhosts or lasants possible).

d.-glass Lasers

Lasani: Needymiuto-doped silicate or phosphate glass

rn (varies depending on formulation of glass)

Output: Pulsed with potential for tens orof VJ per laser rod or slab per pulse. Low PRF. pulses aboutilliseconds long unless shortened

Pumping: Photopumpcd in ultraviolet Comments: Problems of thermal response and beam quality. Phosphate glasses and certain new technologies could give potential for very large pulse with good beam quality several limes per second.


i. Frequency-Doubled Nd Users

Comments: As in the uses listedbove, crystal or gas nonlinear material tuned to second harmonic of Nd3 urn (in greenonversion efficiencies with some extra beam spread can be on the order ofercent for lower power devices.

Lasant: Doubly doped gadolinium strontium gallium garnetrnOutput: Three to five times more efficient than Nd:YAG

Pumping: Photopumpcd Comments: More efficient crystal for range-finders and designators.

Lasant: Chromium-doped gadolinium strontium gallium garnetavelength: Tunable13 um Pumping: Photopumped

Comment: Relatively efficient, high-power laser lhat is tunable in the visible wavelengths.

uby Lasers

Lasani: Ruby crystals (chromium atoms)


Output: Pulsed up to several watts avenge'

power, upz PRF

Pumping Photopumped

Comments: It Uses in the red portion of the visible spectrum and is useful in laser rangefinders.

emiconductor Lasers

Lasants:ommon one is gallium arsenides)


Output: Almost CW (continuouswatts or more

Pumping:beam Comments: Compact, versatile, wiih some (unability.

Gas Lasers

arbon Dioxide Lasers Lasani: CO,

6 iim, but operation possible in other lines; for example,oim rangemicrosecond or shorter pulses with up to hundreds of Hz PRF;. Believed scalable to megawatt class average powers. Miniature CO, lasers may be tunable with wave guide cavities.

Pumping: Electric discharge, electron beam, gas dynamic. Combinations of above also chemicalnd chemical transfer. Comments: Requires gas handling; can beopen cycle, venting exhaust gases into environment, or closed cycle. Major weaponization potential. Other uses include controlled fusion drivers (with shortenedelding,omelatively low atmospheric breakdown threshold and some propagation problems for high-energy devices. In-band for some FLIRs.

arbarn Monoxide Lasers Lasant: CO

Wavelengths: Variousm important because of propagation advantage over longer wavelengths.

Output and Pumping: As for CO,


m wavelengths, betterand less beam divergence thanffluents.

hemical Users

Usants: HF (hydrogenF (deuterium fluoride)

rnrn (DF) Output: Microsecond pulses with high FRF, or CW. Potential for scaling to high outputs in megawatt dais.

Pumping: Chemical, chemicalcam Comments: HF strongly absorbed inDF good propagation wavelength. For chemical lasers, low weight and nonelectrical energy source are attractive features. Toxic effluents

elium-Neon Ustn


S urn,im Pumping. Electric discharge, microwave

Output: Usually CW several watts, possibly can

be pulsed.

Comments: Some scalability may be

xeimer Users

Usants: Rare gas monohalides (anduch as XeF. KrF. XeCl

Wavelengths: Various, typically near UV.m (XeF)

Pumping: Electric beam, optical discharge Ouipul: Nanosecond pulses-Joules, high PRFs reported but with loss of pulse energy. Up to tens of waits average power. omments. Good potential for great increase in output if high-power ultraviolet radiation can be handled by optics. Good potential for military use.

I Metal Vapor Users

Usants: Various, especially copper Wavelengths: Various, often visible Pumping:cam or electric discharge Output: Train of nanosecond pulses, possibly scalable to high-average outputs Comments May be available ittopowerew years.ree Electron Users

Usani Free electrons in undulating magnetic neld

Wavelength Adjustable, lunabte Output Short pulses

Comments: Requires source of magnetic field and/or microwave. Resembles microwaveat optical frequencies

Tbe above list is, of course, not complete andof interest may exist. Tbe descriptions ofgive the most common characteristics anduide to the relationships betweenand pumping sources. This does not meanassociations may not be developed and ,

Ofaser weapon is more thanaser Power supplies, optics, snd pointing systems areFor battlefield lasers, the optics are likely to have diameters on tbe order of tens of centimeters toeter. An important requirement for high-energy

laser optics is lhat Ihey withstand laser fluences tbat are intended toarget. In particular, special glasses are available to withstand large pulses. These glasses are not as necessary for CW or quasi-CW use.

Power supplies include energy storage and pulse-forming networks required for pulsed electrically pumped lasers. Compact high-power energy sources will also be required. These include high-energybatteries, flywheels where energy is stored as rotational kinetic energy, and possibly magaeto-hydrodynarnic tMHDi generators. In MHD. when an ionized gas flowsagnetic held, tbecharged ions -ill deflect one way and thecharged ions tbe otheroltage difference will then appear across tbe flow that can be used toower lupply-tsw


Appendix E

Glossary of Acronyms and Terms










command and reconnaissance vehicle

Air-to-surfacea mnnie launched from an aircraft andarget oa thc ground aa)

t. Antitank guidedmissile guided loank, far

Boyrvaya maihlna de-laninika (combat vehicle.

ashina per-holy (combat vehicle, air-borrtc)*af



Carbon momuideajaa. Carbon

Continuous wave (ne-preryvnogolaser waveform that is made Bpong-train millisecond or more of radiation. flgV

designates ora target for aihat the weapon









Deuterium fluoride fa*

Electro-opticalloa class of optical devices that containpowered device like afjf)

Forward edge of theart

The energy per unit area fallingurface. Typical units arc joules/cm1 ffgV

The rate per unit area at which beam energyurface or beam power per unit area. Units:

High-energy laserwhosepower is greater than about lOOkW.fJp

Hydrogen Nuclides***

A technique used to store Oiree-dirncntional imageswo-dimensional surface. ffgV

of cycles perV







operating capabili-

Infraredportion of tbe dectromagneticjust above the one visible in

unit of energy.


Uicr or OKG {opUthes-kly kvaniovyy generator).

Later beammissile thatii able to stayaser beam all the way to its large! gap

Low-energy laserwhose average power Is less than about lOOkW.fJ)

Laser semiactivemethod used to improve the accuracyeapon; the laserthe target, and the weapon senses theradiation fehecied from tbe target in order to home on tbe target.


Nd Nils

Nonlinear optics





MUli-cme-tbouiandih. Foroule Jt

Ministry of DefenseSB

Maiktna transporinayo legkaya boytvoyatransport, light, com-


Scientific research|p

A branch of optics in which theaterial change with thc intensity of tbe light 0

Scientific production(njuckny-p'Oil-*odil*ennotnew type of Soviet organizationto expedite

Pulse-repetition{chasiosa povtoteniya ,of pulses per second.

measure of arc. One radian3 degrees. 0

Dal'nomerdevice that determines the range or distance to an object fAf)

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