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Dstl trials seek to harden sensors against laser attack

The UK Ministry of Defence's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has conducted a series of trials to assess how sensors can be hardened against laser attacks, the lab revealed on 2 February.

Dstl confirmed to Janes that the trials occurred in September 2021 at Dstl's Porton Down range in Wiltshire, southern England.

Dstl “has conducted a trial to assess novel protection filters on cameras and demonstrate hardening to high-intensity lasers. Several devices tested on the trial demonstrated protection across a wide range of laser intensities, even when exposed to laser engagements many times”, the lab stated in its press release.

Although it could not confirm specific details, a Dstl spokesperson told Janes that “a variety of battlefield laser sources were used” and that the protection measures tested “are platform-agnostic, so could potentially be retrofitted to sensors on any platform – land, sea, or air”.

“Dstl researches new technologies to help keep UK forces and their equipment safe from harm,” Chris Westgate, the lab's technical authority for the trial, was quoted as saying. “We protect assets not just from conventional threats, such as bullets and explosives, but from novel and unconventional threats such as cyber, radio-frequency, and other attacks.

“By improving the resilience and durability of equipment we will help UK forces retain freedom of action against current and future threats.”

Dstl stated that the trials were “attended by three international collaborating organisations”, although it declined to name them. It added that the trials “identified extensive follow-on work to allow sensors to continue operating in contested environments”.

Data from the trials is now being reviewed, “following which expressions of interest will be invited from industrial suppliers to accelerate the development of the technology”, Dstl said.

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