Fostering and Funding Military Laser R&D

Military lasers are those devices and weapons that use amplified, monochromatic, coherent light to best advance the strategic capabilities of the armed forces. The U.S. Army first began using military lasers in 1965. At that time, lasers were developed and used as range finders because of their extreme accuracy at measuring distances. Soldiers who were forward observers used these devices to determine long-range coordinates of enemy artillery gunners during the Vietnam War. The Nd:YAG lasers generally used in this application could be mounted on tanks and aircraft. Air Force pilots in that conflict used lasers to guide "smart" bombs into marked targets, a technique that later was used successfully by Israeli pilots in the 1973 Mid-East conflict and continues to be used today.

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