Comparison of Coherent and Incoherent Laser Beam Combination for Tactical Engagements

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The performance of a multibeam laser system is evaluated for coherent and incoherent beam combination under tactical scenarios. For direct comparison, identical aperture geometries are used for both, coherent or incoherent, combination methods. The analysis assumes a multilaser source coupled with a conventional 0.32 m diameter, on-axis, beam director. Parametric analysis includes variations over residual errors, beam quality, atmospheric effects, and scenario geometry. Analytical solutions from previous results are used to evaluate performance for the vacuum case, providing an upper bound on performance and a backdrop for organizing the multitude of effects as they are analyzed. Wave optics simulations are used for total system performance. Each laser in the array has a wavelength of 1.07 μm, 10 kW (25 kW) output power, and Gaussian exitance profile. Both tracking and full-aperture adaptive optics are modeled. Three tactical engagement geometries, air to surface, surface to air, and surface to surface, are evaluated for slant ranges from 2.5 to 10 km. Two near-median atmospheric profiles were selected based upon worldwide climatological data. The performance metric used is beam propagation efficiency for circular target diameters of 5 and 10 cm.
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Optical Engineering