Lasers are in play for Pendleton UAS Range clients

By on Friday, November 17th, 2023 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PENDLETON – The Pendleton UAS Test Range has been a proving ground for a wide variety of applications for drones. Range Manager Darryl Abling said there’s a new kind of technology that’s being tested on remote, privately-owned land off the range.

“We’ve got some agreements from some landowners in the area and we’ve been doing quite a bit of off-airport work on their properties, mainly lasers,” Abling said. “Lasers seem to have gotten pretty popular lately.”

The tests of the non-weaponized lasers are taking place in very remote areas with the owners’ permission. Much of the testing occurs in very remote areas in canyons and washes, he said, and the beacons from the lasers are invisible.

“That’s profitable for the landowners and it helps us,” Abling said. “The lasers are invisible. You can’t see the beam. They’re not death rays. They are designators, so they’re used to designate targets. An aircraft will have a sensor. If it’s looking for tanks or something it will identify a target and then it will designate it with the laser.”

He said that there is a lot of interest in testing both airborne and ground based laser designators.