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Laser guidance is a technique of guiding a missile or other projectile or vehicle to a target by means of a laser beam. Some laser guided systems utilise beam riding guidance, but most operate more similarly to semi-active radar homing (SARH). This technique is sometimes called SALH, for Semi-Active Laser Homing. With this technique, a laser is kept pointed at the target and the laser radiation bounces off the target and is scattered in all directions (this is known as “painting the target”, or “laser painting”). The missile, bomb, etc. is launched or dropped somewhere near the target. When it is close enough that some of the reflected laser energy from the target reaches it, a laser seeker detects which direction this energy is coming from and adjusts the projectile trajectory towards the source. As long as the projectile is in the general area and the laser is kept aimed at the target, the projectile should be guided accurately to the target.

Note that laser guidance is not useful against targets that do not reflect much laser energy, including those coated in special paint which absorbs laser energy. This is likely to be widely used by advanced military vehicles in order to make it harder to use laser rangefinders against them and harder to hit them with laser-guided munitions. An obvious circumvention would be to aim the laser merely close to the target.

Countermeasures to laser guidance are Laser detection systems, Smoke screen, active anti-laser active protection systems.

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