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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the throw-me-a-bone-here dept.

AnonTechie writes:

First Stop: Skyshield ... Next Stop: Skynet"

From an article in Wired:

Israel is finally ready to combat shoulder-launched missiles and they're going to do it with lasers. Israel's Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday that SkyShield, developed by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, had successfully completed testing and is certified for commercial use to combat the threat of man-portable surface-to-air missile systems (MANPADS) by combining advanced laser detection and disruption technologies.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:15AM (#11267)

    Since the jets will have weapons employed (and if those weapons can be used on missiles, they certainly can be used on other targets as well), do they still qualify as civilian aircrafts? After all, they could be used to start an attack disguised as a civilian flight until the very last moment.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Kell on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:05PM

    by Kell (292) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:05PM (#11281)

    I think the idea is to just dazzle the missile guidance system as a countermeasure? I don't see this as being anything other than a fully automated reactive system. Then again, I also didn't RTFA, so ... yeah.

    --
    Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:19PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:19PM (#11284) Journal

    Since the jets will have weapons employed (and if those weapons can be used on missiles, they certainly can be used on other targets as well), do they still qualify as civilian aircrafts?

    Good question. I've read elsewhere Israeli civilian jets use Chaff (released metal strips for radar confusion) [wikipedia.org] and similar technology for heat-seeking missiles. The offensive use of these lasers, at least attached to civilian aircraft is unlikely, as it would make all civilian aircraft suddenly into military targets. Similar to the same reason false surrenders are a bad idea.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:17PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:17PM (#11306)

      The offensive use of these lasers, at least attached to civilian aircraft is unlikely, as it would make all civilian aircraft suddenly into military targets.

      Anybody who is likely to attack Israel is likely to attack civilian aircraft whether they're armed or not. Indeed, that's the original reason for the lasers. Swiss Air does not need lasers on its aircraft because nobody wants to attack Swiss civilians.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:24PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:24PM (#11289) Journal
    TFA quote

    C-MUSIC, the commercial version of SkyShield, integrates laser technology with a thermal camera to deflect incoming threats by jamming. After detecting incoming missiles with an infrared sensor, it fires a laser that disrupts the missile’s navigation system, taking it off course and detonating the missile a safe distance from the aircraft.

    1. a jamming system for incoming missiles - essentially, a defensive countermeasure
    2. I wonder how hard would it be for the missile manufacturers to desensitize the navigation system of the particular laser wavelength(s) the laser is using?
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    • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:02PM (#11346)

      Defensive - until you reach the part where they say it detonates the missile. As far as I know, missiles are not detonated by a laser shining into a detonation sensor.

      The kind of missiles they are most worried about are probably detonated by impact, so detonating them by laser means heating up the missile until the charge self-ignites.

      That's not a defensive weapon. It can be used as one, but so can any weapon. That does not allow you to bring them into a civilian airport.

      • (Score: 1) by Alias on Thursday March 06 2014, @07:23AM

        by Alias (2825) on Thursday March 06 2014, @07:23AM (#11814)

        Some missiles do actually have "laser" fuses. These devices are basically optical proximity detectors. They have a laser, (which is probably modulated in a specific way to prevent accidental triggering or reflection spoofing,) and a detector which detects the reflection of the laser off of an aircraft when the missile is right next to the aircraft. (Such a laser fuse usually operates out of the side of the missile.) If it is close enough to take out the aircraft, it triggers the warhead.

        Missiles that don't have a laser fuse usually have a "radar" fuse instead.

        A laser capable of heating up a missile until it fails would not be likely on a commercial aircraft. Commercial aircraft budget weight and space very carefully; a laser powerful enough to take out a missile in flight would require enough cooling hardware that it would probably be at least the size, (and mass,) of a small car. That doesn't include the aiming optics. Much of this hardware and mass would have to be inconveniently located on the aircraft to be aimable in most directions. Not practical with current technology. (At least not with technology that would ever end up in public view.)

        There are several systems, (don't know how many are in production, but there were several research systems,) that jam heat-seeking missile trackers with the use of lasers (sometimes multiple lasers in one device.) These lasers typically emit light in the 4-10 micron wavelength range. Some of those systems were designed with MANPADS in mind but they also work on other heat-seekers.

        With regard to the filters and other techniques that might make missiles immune to jamming, there is a reason for the secrecy behind the exact capabilities of the jamming devices. There is somewhat of an arms race in this area. Not long ago, the MANPADS missiles were still relatively low tech; I imagine the missiles these systems are intended to thwart haven't changed much in the last 5 years. Regardless of the physical capabilities of whatever is going on those commercial aircraft, I'm pretty sure they do not have the data/software required to defeat advanced missiles launched by modern military aircraft.

    • (Score: 1) by etherscythe on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:50PM

      by etherscythe (937) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:50PM (#11416) Journal

      Desensitize? Does that not defeat the purpose of a laser guidance system, such that the missile won't home properly anyway? You could use different frequencies I suppose, but so can the jammer. It's a pretty simple lense swap AFAIK with a frequency shifter membrane.

      This is how many green laser pointers are currently produced; they have a diode in the infrared range which is frequency doubled up to 532nm wavelength. A bigger one would be more expensive but not necessarily too much more complex. Alternatively you just have an array of different lasers on the commonly used frequencies. There's only so many values in the infrared range, which most of this equipment uses.

      Note: I am not a defense engineer, I'm just speculating off the top of my head

      --
      "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"