ESG supplies advanced laser safety glasses to German military

ESG supplies advanced laser safety glasses to German military

6-Dec-2021 Source: ESG Elektroniksystemund Logistik-GmbH

On behalf of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH has developed advanced laser safety glasses for military pilots and aircrews and has now received an order for series production.

In view of the increasing threat to flight safety worldwide in recent years due to the attacks of civil and military aircraft with so-called “laser pointers”, there is an urgent need for action to effectively protect pilots and flight crew from laser radiation. This applies in particular to helicopter crews, as they operate at relatively low altitudes and comparatively slow speeds. Powerful laser pointers, which can be purchased freely and cheaply on online marketplaces, pose a growing threat to air traffic both nationally and during missions abroad: The glare from a laser beam can not only cause organic damage to the eye, but also restrict the pilot’s perception to such an extent that life-threatening flight conditions arise. This applies all the more to particularly challenging operations close to the ground, e.g. in low-level flight or during take-off and landing maneuvers.

Laser safety glasses currently available on the market usually only protect against one or two wavelengths and display a strongly color falsified image, which severely restricts their use in the cockpit or, under certain circumstances, makes them impossible to use. The limited light transmission of the available glasses does not allow flying in poor visibility or twilight. Furthermore, these glasses are not designed for use with helmets and helmet vision systems such as night vision devices.

From the very beginning, ESG developed the new laser safety glasses in close cooperation with the German Institute of Aerospace Medicine, the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Aircraft and Aeronautical Equipment (Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 61) and Helicopter Command, Operational Test Group KHT. It is currently undergoing the final test phase, so that the newly developed glasses will be made available as early as next year.

In this context, the following challenges had to be met by the ESG development team:

 Ensuring broadband protection in several wavelength ranges while at the same time guaranteeing sufficient transmission for external vision in bad weather or night vision conditions.

 Ensuring permanent wearing comfort under the helmet with tight-fitting hearing protection

 Enabling individualization or personalization through different frame variants with different frame sizes, temple lengths, shapes and materials (96 variants)

 Ensuring optional upgrade with corrective lenses for spectacle wearers

The first laser safety glasses for combat helicopter KH Tiger crews will now be delivered at the end of the second quarter of 2022. In addition, the procurement of glasses for the crews of other aircraft types is currently being examined. Furthermore, the ESG team is taking into account the changing threat situation due to the possible attacks with ever new laser pointer models by continuously reviewing the protection spectrum and the optical properties of the laser safety goggles and, if necessary, developing them further in a targeted manner.

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