Defense Media Network

U.S. Navy Explores Long Range Ocular Interrupter (LROI)

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U.S. Navy representatives have revealed service interest in available technologies and solutions that could be applied to a potential long range ocular interrupter (LROI) that would provide the Navy with the capability “to deliver a bright beam of light that produces a dazzling or glare effect on a closing target to warn and/or suppress potential threats through increasing levels of visual degradation.”

According to a recent government announcement, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) is seeking information “on readily available commercial based solutions that have proven field trials and/or prototype testing focused in the areas of magnifying optics detection, environmental adaptation, and automated variable power attenuation.”

The technologies would support a conceptual two-level LROI that would provide a lower level light beam to facilitate visual warning and a higher level light beam that would provide temporary visual suppression.

According to the announcement, the notional LROI would “deliver the correct irradiance to affect a targeted individual’s vision, providing a clear, unambiguous warning at a distance of 3,000 meters (approximately 3,300 yards, or 1.6 nautical miles), an increased range over previous systems. At a minimum, this extended range capability will provide increased tactical decision-making time to facilitate structured escalation of force (EoF) tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) across a broad range of military operations (ROMO). Further, the LROI system enhances Joint Force operations in assessing the intent of personnel and controlling a potential threat as early as possible.”

The LROI would provide a significant enhancement in capabilities over current shorter-range systems like “Dazzler,” which can be used for signaling or as a non-lethal deterrent to any hostile force approaching the ship.

The LROI announcement acknowledges that the individual underlying technologies associated with the LROI are considered mature, but adds that it is the integration and control of those technologies into a cohesive non-lethal capability is new. As a result, “the government plans on working with industry in a collaborative basis to explore technology advancements and alternatives to aid in accelerating maturation of system and subsystem capabilities needed to satisfy LROI design attributes and operational requirements.”

Based on current market analysis and preliminary technical readiness evaluation, four focus areas have been identified for the current activity: magnifying optics detection (addressing the possibility of an approaching individual using direct view optics); environmental adaptation (addressing the long range implications of humidity, airborne particulates or atmospheric refraction); automated variable power attenuation (to ensure appropriate personnel safety while maintaining desired performance); and expeditionary configured power sources (reliable power sources compatible with an expeditionary warfare operating environment).

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...