BAE Systems has tested a laser to stop pirates from intercepting
merchant ships. The London-based company has demonstrated a non-lethal
prototype that could warn of pirates at a distance of at least two
kilometers, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The whole concept of the anti-piracy campaign that BAE sytems are
undertaking is how we might be able to take military technology and employ
it in a commercial environment," BAE business development manager Bryan Hore
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Executives said the laser prototype was meant to provide a feasible and
affordable system for merchant ships that move through such pirate-infested
waterways as the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. They cited an increase in attacks
by Somali pirates throughout the Gulf region.
BAE said the laser could disorient pirates so they could not use their
weapons for an attack. They identified the prototype as a Neodymium Yttrium
Aluminium Garnet laser, which did not require high levels of power.
Executives said the laser was tested during day and night as well as in
rain. They said the laser targeting system could be integrated into a
merchant ship's radar and sensors for semi-autonomous operation.
BAE has also installed safety features to protect the laser from being
used by unauthorized people, including pirates who manage to board a
merchant ship. Executives said the prototype would require additional
"Our next step is to look at things like multiple targets, the remote
use of the system and further safety aspects," Hore said.