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Proceedings Paper

Tracking through laser-induced clutter for air-to-ground directed energy system
Author(s): Mikhail Belen'kii; Timothy Brinkley; Kevin Hughes; Allen Tannenbaum
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Paper Abstract

The agility and speed with which directed energy can be retargeted and delivered to the target makes a laser weapon highly desirable in tactical battlefield environments. A directed energy system can effectively damage and possibly destroy relatively soft targets on the ground. In order to accurately point a high-energy beam at the target, the directed energy system must be able to acquire and track targets of interest in highly cluttered environments, under different weather, smoke, and camouflage conditions and in the presence of turbulence and thermal blooming. To meet these requirements, we proposed a concept of a multi spectral tracker, which integrates three sensors: SAR radar, a passive MWIR optical tracker, and a range-gated laser illuminated tracker. In this paper we evaluated the feasibility of the integrated optical tracker and arrived to the following conclusions: a) the contrast enhancement by mapping the original pixel distribution to the desired one enhances the target identification capability, b) a reduction of the divergence of the illuminating beam reduces rms pointing error of a laser tracker, c) a clutter removal algorithm based on active contours is capable of capturing targets in highly cluttered environments, d) the daytime rms pointing error caused by anisoplanatism of the track point to the aim point is comparable to the diffraction-limited beam spot size, f) the peak intensity shift from the optical axis caused by thermal blooming at 5 km range for the air-to-ground engagement scenario is on the order of 8 μrad, and it is 10 μrad at 10 km range, and e) the thermal blooming reduces the peak average power in a 2 cm bucket at 5 km range by a factor of 8, and it reduces the peak average power in the bucket at 10 km range by a factor of 22.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 August 2003
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 5087, Laser Systems Technology, (21 August 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.503145
Show Author Affiliations
Mikhail Belen'kii, Trex Enterprises Corp. (United States)
Timothy Brinkley, Trex Enterprises Corp. (United States)
Kevin Hughes, Trex Enterprises Corp. (United States)
Allen Tannenbaum, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5087:
Laser Systems Technology
William E. Thompson; Paul H. Merritt, Editor(s)

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