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Old 10-22-2019, 10:38 AM
johnmcd johnmcd is offline
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Default Targeting laser wavelengths



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Does anyone know what laser wavelengths are commonly used for military targeting systems, or is that typically classified information? I'm thinking of a scenario where a country is subject to an invasion/occupation by a technically advanced military, and I was wondering if you could equip freedom fighters with inexpensive handheld lasers that would mimic a targeting designation laser. The freedom fighters could lase vehicles randomly, causing them to have to stop and deploy countermeasures, which could significantly hinder their operations.
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:16 AM
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I think their response is to hose down the area the laser is coming from, which would suck for the guy running that laser.
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:33 AM
johnmcd johnmcd is offline
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Agreed, but you could set the handheld units up pointing at a road/trail/intersection and trigger it remotely pretty easily. That's why I'm trying to figure out if it would be practical to do with a relatively inexpensive device. If the laser is small and light enough you could even do it with a drone, which would add another dimension to the mischief.
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:48 PM
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Typical US military devices operate at 600-867 nm (for small arms mounted/handheld designators like a rifle mounted AN/PEQ 15 ATPIAL or IZLID hand held Commander's Pointer) and at around 1064 nm for more powerful CAS designators (like the AN/PEQ 1 SOFLAM).

Little of that need concern you. Those are mostly used in IR mode to designate fires (from small arms engagement ranges out to several kilometers). Military night vision devices and camera systems are going to pick up IR glint (by day or night) as well as all visible laser wavelengths. In military circles, almost nobody uses visible lasers for targeting. Use of visible lasers typically signals that the employer is not a well equipped military force. You've self identified as the B-Team.

Nevertheless, just about any commercially available visible laser pointer can still raise havoc with vehicle & aircraft crews.

While flying over Baghdad one late afternoon, I got hit full in the eyes by a green laser aimed at my aircraft as it passed over the SE Karadah district of the city. Beam entered the open door of my UH60 Black Hawk and hit me full in the face. I just happened to be looking in exactly that direction when the laser swept the aircraft.

I was wearing tinted ballistic eyewear which deflected much of it, but it still rang my bell. Instant flashbulb-like after-image (in full daylight) and an immediate splitting headache that lasted for hours. I'd estimate the slant range (from the ground to my bird) at 750ish meters. I had a pretty good idea where it came from, but no valid reason to shoot back.

This effect from a typical inexpensive AA battery green laser pointer. The kind available at any market in the city for a few dollars. Their possession/use was epidemic at that time. Kids had 'em. So did local insurgents who liked to dazzle coalition aircraft at low altitudes. Just harassment.

I've had somebody momentarily place a green dot on my CIRAS maritime vest in broad daylight (same country) and the effect was disconcerting. Makes you jump for cover. But still much better than simply taking a bullet instead. Lasers were ubiquitous back then and half the time it was unarmed kids trying to get a rise out of us.

The problem with using such visible lasers is that the targeted recipient still has a pretty rough idea of where it came from. Enough to accurately hose your general location. If he has firepower and unrestricted ROE, you're day is gonna suck. You may intend harassment only, but the response might be indiscriminate and lethal. At the very least, you've signaled hostile intent and a location worthy of return fires.

Be careful about poking critters with teeth.

We used battlefield lasers to either 1) hit targets with bullets from our own bullet launchers or 2) Sparkle/Rope designation of a target for servicing by bigger supporting fires (orbiting gunship, armored vehicle main gun, attack helicopter, JDAM, LGB, etc.).

Screwing around with harassment use of visible lasers is a good way to not accomplish much besides your own demise. Or the destruction of whomever's property you used to launch that beam from. Your neighbors might not think highly of you for bringing down the scunion on them.
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Old 10-22-2019, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Astronomy View Post
Typical US military devices operate at 600-867 nm (for small arms mounted/handheld designators like a rifle mounted AN/PEQ 15 ATPIAL or IZLID hand held Commander's Pointer) and at around 1064 nm for more powerful CAS designators (like the AN/PEQ 1 SOFLAM).

Little of that need concern you. Those are mostly used in IR mode to designate fires (from small arms engagement ranges out to several kilometers). Military night vision devices and camera systems are going to pick up IR glint (by day or night) as well as all visible laser wavelengths. In military circles, almost nobody uses visible lasers for targeting. Use of visible lasers typically signals that the employer is not a well equipped military force. You've self identified as the B-Team.

Nevertheless, just about any commercially available visible laser pointer can still raise havoc with vehicle & aircraft crews.

While flying over Baghdad one late afternoon, I got hit full in the eyes by a green laser aimed at my aircraft as it passed over the SE Karadah district of the city. Beam entered the open door of my UH60 Black Hawk and hit me full in the face. I just happened to be looking in exactly that direction when the laser swept the aircraft.

I was wearing tinted ballistic eyewear which deflected much of it, but it still rang my bell. Instant flashbulb-like after-image (in full daylight) and an immediate splitting headache that lasted for hours. I'd estimate the slant range (from the ground to my bird) at 750ish meters. I had a pretty good idea where it came from, but no valid reason to shoot back.

This effect from a typical inexpensive AA battery green laser pointer. The kind available at any market in the city for a few dollars. Their possession/use was epidemic at that time. Kids had 'em. So did local insurgents who liked to dazzle coalition aircraft at low altitudes. Just harassment.

I've had somebody momentarily place a green dot on my CIRAS maritime vest in broad daylight (same country) and the effect was disconcerting. Makes you jump for cover. But still much better than simply taking a bullet instead. Lasers were ubiquitous back then and half the time it was unarmed kids trying to get a rise out of us.

The problem with using such visible lasers is that the targeted recipient still has a pretty rough idea of where it came from. Enough to accurately hose your general location. If he has firepower and unrestricted ROE, you're day is gonna suck. You may intend harassment only, but the response might be indiscriminate and lethal. At the very least, you've signaled hostile intent and a location worthy of return fires.

Be careful about poking critters with teeth.

We used battlefield lasers to either 1) hit a target with bullets from our own bullet launchers or 2) Sparkle/Rope designation of a target for servicing by bigger supporting fires (gunship, armored vehicle main guns, attack helicopter, JDAM, LGBs, etc.).

Screwing around with harassment use of visible lasers is a good way to not accomplish much besides your own demise. Or the destruction of whomever's property you used to launch that beam from. Your neighbors might not think highly of you for bringing down the scunion on them...
Thank you - that's what I was looking for (the wavelengths). You can buy a 850nm laser module for $20, and a remote relay switch for $10, so it seems like it would be practical to make a bunch of these, stick them up in places where enemy vehicles would be passing and trigger them remotely to force a response. I would think that after a week or two of getting hit with these once or twice a day an enemy force would be wound up pretty tightly.
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Old 10-22-2019, 02:32 PM
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I would think that after a week or two of getting hit with these once or twice a day an enemy force would be wound up pretty tightly.
They'd respond with a wide variety of closely coordinated countermeasures. Round the clock attention from Fusion Intelligence Centers, ISR (drones, big and small, at all altitudes), prowling attack aircraft, precision artillery/fires, sniper/observer teams, infantry sweeps, intercept/geo-tracking of all available communications nodes (especially phones/computers), significant arrests of suspected insurgents (or hostages), jamming of remote controller frequencies, employment of HUMINT assets, and pattern of life targeting of everyone living in your AO. The enemy would likely move significant assets into your area. Perhaps establishing permanent basing. A good way to attract an extremely active response... for little return on investment.

Your area would rocket to the top of the list as an insurgent stronghold. I fail to see the upside of advertising your presence for the sake of mere harassment.

Stick to using visible lasers for short range gun fights... or amusing cats.
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Old 10-22-2019, 03:15 PM
johnmcd johnmcd is offline
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They'd respond with a wide variety of closely coordinated countermeasures. Round the clock attention from Fusion Intelligence Centers, ISR (drones, big and small, at all altitudes), prowling attack aircraft, precision artillery/fires, sniper/observer teams, infantry sweeps, intercept/geo-tracking of all available communications nodes (especially phones/computers), significant arrests of suspected insurgents (or hostages), jamming of remote controller frequencies, employment of HUMINT assets, and pattern of life targeting of everyone living in your AO. The enemy would likely move significant assets into your area. Perhaps establishing permanent basing. A good way to attract an extremely active response... for little return on investment.

Your area would rocket to the top of the list as an insurgent stronghold. I fail to see the upside of advertising your presence for the sake of mere harassment.

Stick to using visible lasers for short range gun fights... or amusing cats.
Nothing says you'd be limited to doing this in one specific area. If the insurgency was widespread you could have these popping up all over the place.
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Old 10-23-2019, 02:57 AM
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If the insurgency was widespread you could have these popping up all over the place.
To what useful effect? It's not going to slow the other guys down or dissuade them from their intended objectives. They'll just ignore the effort. But ultimately use any captured devices to paint a useful picture of your logistical support & operational network.

I fought against several widespread insurgencies. Harassment use of lasers was never much of a real problem for us. On the other hand, use of them by our opponents was a handy means of developing Intelligence Indicators. Ones we used to flat out crush insurgent networks.

I'd rate it right up there with walking around shining white navigation lights at night. Unwise. Not trying to criticize you, but you are giving this concept way more credit for useful effect than has ever been seen in actuality. It's just a good way to attract unwanted attention from the other side. Including a very capable forensics investigation that you'd find difficult to believe.

In my wars, when the other side started routinely deploying certain newly fielded equipment items (remote devices, IEDs, jammers, EFPs, laser designators, etc.), it was like leaving a Hansel & Gretel breadcrumb trail of widget procurement. Attacked investigatively the same way you'd go after smugglers, drug rings, arms dealers, human traffickers, or serial killers.

We live in a digital age. Everything is scooped up and stored forever. Including purchases, e-mails, receipts, personnel voice communications, and everything you ever posted on the internet. All of it. Forever. IDing the logistical/financial sources (and recipients) of certain tech items is a piece of cake. Plus... somebody will talk. Somebody always talks. Especially under sustained professional interrogation.

If you want to harass the enemy... kill him. Routinely and by surprise. Without incurring casualties among your force. Employing non-lethal items against him will only confirm that he's hunting for you in the right area of operations. And give him a sure physical thread to unravel concerning your capabilities.

Lasers to harass or stress the enemy? As we sarcastically noted in my outfit: "It briefs well..."

I'd not do it. Just because you can do something... doesn't mean that you should.
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