While infrared light has plenty of civilian uses, infrared light has the greatest impact on the military. Ever since the conclusion of WWII, military technology has exploded with innovations. The military is becoming more and more technological, replacing pilots with drones and machine-gun bullets with lasers themselves. Here are all the things the military uses infrared light for.
Rangefinders- When a sniper needs an accurate distance to a target, it is a whole lot better to rely on a rangefinder than just guesstimating the distance. Especially during low light and no light situations, using infrared light can be a game-changer as it can help you spot and range targets that you never would have seen with even night vision.
Surveillance- Criminals and terrorists work when no one can see what they’re doing, but with infrared light sensors on drones, they can always see what someone is up to. Since humans are always emitting infrared light, it is relatively easy to pinpoint targets in the pitch black. However, we can’t always see what they are carrying so infrared light is often combined with standard night vision to give us a more clear picture as to what is going on.
Missile/Bomb Guidance- Once they decide to drop a bomb or send out a missile they need to make sure it doesn’t cause damage to civilians or any non-affiliated buildings. In order to be more precise, there are some missiles and bombs that use infrared light to guide its payload to the right spot. These are perfect, for example, when a missile is being aimed at the extremely hot exhaust of a jet engine. This is a great solution as it minimizes unwanted casualties/damage while maximizing accuracy to the specific target.
LaWS (Laser Weapon System) – This is perhaps the coolest weapon to come out of the 21st century. Used aboard some US Navy ships since 2014, this sci-fi weapon is something straight out of Star Wars. How it works is that it takes infrared light and shoots it at a certain target. This intense amount of energy will quickly heat up whatever it is pointed and will start to burn and destroy the target. The only con is that the laser generates a lot of heat, uses a lot of energy, and is costly. Therefore only 1 has been produced so far.