Anti-laser spectacles undergo testing for pilots

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Prototype spectacles capable of filtering out wavelengths of light used in various laser weapons and laser pens are being assessed by the UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The prototype spectacles, made by Glasgow-based company Thin Film Solutions, can filter out a range of different laser wavelengths, and are being assessed for military pilots. This multiple wavelength filtering is achieved with a composite structure that consists of a polycarbonate layer, made with a special absorbing optical dye, bonded to a thin glass lens with a special coating to reflect certain wavelengths.

Dr Craig Williamson, principal scientist at DSTL, explained the rationale behind the project work. ‘There are an increasing number of incidents of inexpensive lasers being used to distract pilots, so we have been researching advanced technologies to mitigate this hazardous and potentially lethal distraction,’ he said.

Funding from the UK government’s Defence Equipment and Support department is paying for the assessment. The work has also benefited from an established partnership between DSTL and the United States Air Force, with testing having taken place in May of this year. Further testing is to be conducted later this year, including optical performance and environmental testing by DSTL and laser dazzle and performance testing at UK technology company QinetiQ.