Ionatron (NASDAQ: IOTN) announced the establishement of a new organization focused on the development, engineering, production and support of specialty lasers for military, aerospace, and security customers. Ionatron’s Laser Group (“ILG”) will be located in St. Louis, Missouri, and has been staffed by an experienced team of engineers and technicians with expertise in the design, engineering and production of compact, rugged, lightweight, and highly efficient advanced solid state lasers, and in the special requirements for qualification of lasers for military and aerospace missions. The focus of the organization will be in engineering Ionatron’s unique laser technologies for military customers, developing new applications for these laser technologies, and in executing other defense and aerospace laser program opportunities.
The ILG team consists of a core of experts in military laser design with experience from a variety of notable military and spaceborne laser programs. These include space-launched laser radar transmitters for several Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) experiments, the Mars Observer Laser Altimeter (MOLA) transmitter designed to map the surface of Mars, and several military laser rangefinder/target designators and electro-optic countermeasure (EOCM) transmitters. More recently, these individuals have developed high performance laser transmitters for laser bathymetery and other laser radar systems.
Lasers are increasingly being used for defense applications, such as targeting of conventional weapons, and remote detection and identification of targets. Ionatron recently completed the first phase of a program for a customer to use its lasers to remotely detect and identify traces of chemicals and explosives in the atmosphere. The customer has requested and is evaluating a follow-on program proposal. Other military applications for high performance lasers include laser imaging, spectroscopy, communications, and tactical weapon and countermeasure applications. Ionatron’s newly formed laser group will take a lead in pursuing both new military applications for its ultrashort pulsed lasers, as well as development and production programs for other more established military laser technologies.
Ionatron is a pioneering developer of directed energy technologies for defense applications, most notably Laser Guided Energy (LGE) which utilizes Tera-Watt class ultrashort pulse lasers coupled with patented and proprietary high-voltage technologies to accurately and efficiently deliver high energy electrical discharges to targets. The newly formed laser team will be responsible for transitioning Ionatron’s developmental LGE laser architectures into compact and rugged military laser hardware, and the manufacture of those laser subsystems systems for fielding.
Dana Marshall, President and CEO of Ionatron commented: “Translating our Laser Guided Energy technology into hardware that can operate reliably on the battlefield is a unique challenge. Our recent Navy LGE contract award includes a significant laser development effort toward that goal. I am confident that we will be well prepared to meet that challenge for our customers as our LGE technology advances and we benefit from the technical capability and experience of this specialized laser engineering team.”
Mr. Marshall continued: “The military has found many powerful uses for lasers, and Ionatron’s unique ultrashort pulse laser technologies offer new possibilities for many important defense applications. I believe we’ve assembled an excellent team to pursue the growing opportunities in this area. While the primary impetus for the formation of this group was supporting our core technology and its implementation, the potential for leveraging this capability into the expanding market and demand for advanced lasers for other military applications provides us with another potential avenue for significant growth. We also firmly believe that many of these lasers will have commercial and industrial markets, as well as uses for Homeland Security and other security applications.”