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UES receives contract for flash blindness protection

By
Stephen Carlson
Air Force One, pictured at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, in April 2018, is among the command-and-control aircraft in the U.S. fleet that uses photonic shielding to prevent flash blindness among aircrew. Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI
Air Force One, pictured at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, in April 2018, is among the command-and-control aircraft in the U.S. fleet that uses photonic shielding to prevent flash blindness among aircrew. Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 13 (UPI) -- UES has received a $49 million contract for research and development for the Flash and Laser Airborne Protection System.

The contract, announced Friday by the Department of Defense, is for exploratory research and development of materials and technologies to protect against photonic energy. The program will provide for research, development and manufacturing of photonic resistant material to protect air crews from flash blindness.

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Work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and is expected to be complete by November 2024. Air Force fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $1 million are being obligated at the time of award.

Flash blindness from sources like lasers, nuclear explosions and powerful lighting systems can be a serious threat to aircrews.

Photonic shielding is already in use on high-value aircraft like Air Force One and other command and control planes, but is not standard on many Air Force aircraft.

A simple boosted laser pointer could blind a pilot and lead to mission failure or a crash. Such devices are also a terrorism threat to commercial aircraft.

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