Center for Directed Energy (CDE)

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Laser Weapon Systems Short Course to be Offered
Posted: 07/05/2011 by AFIT Public Affairs

The Laser Weapon Systems Short Course provides an overview of high energy laser (HEL) weapon systems. The course is offered by the Center for Directed Energy (CDE) at the Air Force Institute of Technology. DEPS, with funding from the HEL Joint Technology Office, sponsored the CDE in development of this short course.

Lead Instructors:
Dr. Perram, Dr. Fiorino, Dr. Cusumano, Dr. Hengehold

Students earn 3.2 CEU from DEPS for successful completion of the course. Student performance is assessed by a series of pass-fail written exercises.

Intended Students
The short course assumes that the registrants hold undergraduate degrees in engineering or science and are interested in an overview of HEL systems at some technical depth. Participation is restricted to students who are employees of the U.S. government or of U.S. government contractors.

Course Details
A thorough presentation of HEL weapons systems is developed. The course provides a complete overview of laser weapon systems, including laser devices (chemical, solid state, and free electron), laser subsystems (power, thermal management, fluid supply), beam control (beam directors, tracking and control, adaptive optics), atmospheric propagation, targets and lethality, engagement scenarios, and weapon system performance. The course emphasizes concepts, terminology, current technological capabilities, and systems concepts. The course does not develop key relationships from first principles. Limitations on the effectiveness of HEL weapons and key performance trade-offs will be addressed. Application of these concepts to current systems will include the historical Airborne Laser Laboratory, Airborne Laser, Tactical High Energy Laser, Advanced Tactical Laser, and Space-Based Laser programs. The effectiveness of HEL weapons on the battlefield will be simulated using engagement and mission level models. The course includes a number of extended, worked problems, including a simplified calculation of weapon effectiveness for a high altitude, long range, air-to-air engagement.


  • Introduction to concepts of systems engineering
  • Overview of HEL weapon systems
  • Fundamentals of laser devices
  • HEL devices
  • The atmosphere
  • Beam control systems
  • Lethality
  • HEL weapon systems
  • Laser weapon system effectiveness

Distance Learning Mode
This mode is mostly asynchronous. The lecture content is prerecorded and can be viewed at any time at the convenience of the student. Lectures are viewed in a web browser and can be downloaded from - or streamed over - the internet. (Both delivery modes are made available, in case a student has problems with one or the other.) More detailed access instructions will be provided upon registration.
The asynchronous lectures are supplemented by synchronous sessions using a webinar service. These sessions are designed to give instructors live "face time" with students, for Q-and-A, and for reinforcing lesson concepts. These meetings also facilitate student-to-student interaction, which is often a valuable tool in the graduate learning setting. To join these web conferences, students will need an internet-connected computer and a telephone. These sessions meet for an hour or so; attendance is not mandatory but highly encouraged. Specific meeting times are determined after students have been polled at the outset of the course.

Aside from the weekly webinar sessions of 60 - 90 minutes per week, students can set their own schedule for the course. Nevertheless, students must complete the course within eight weeks.
System requirements include high-speed internet access and a telephone. AFIT uses Microsoft Live Meeting as its webinar service provider. To join the meeting, ideally a small plug-in is installed on the student's computer. This is a one-time installation. If this cannot be accomplished, such as for lack of privileges on the employer's network, the student will still be able to join.

Current Schedule of Offering
12 September to 23 October 2011, Distance Learning Mode

The fee for the Distance Learning offering of this course is $1200 registration fee and $95 for the textbook, for a total of $1295.

Please visit the DEPS website for registration and additional information. You can also contact Mrs. Ashley Ungericht, the executive administrator for the Center for Directed Energy, with any further questions.

Laser Weapon Systems Short Course Flyer

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