Sunday, February 1, 2009
Laser companies prove to be attractive acquisition targets of prime defense contractors
Laser companies prove to be attractive acquisition target of prime defense contractors
Posted by John Keller
Last fall's acquisition of laser specialist Aculight Corp. of Bothell, Wash., by defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., may be an indication that military prime contractors are getting even more serious about developing or acquiring laser and other electro-optical technology expertise.
Laser beans of differing strengths represent one wave of the future in military technology, for the laser represents the way forward for applications, from free-space communications, stealthy sensors, and targeting, as well as a new age of lethal and non-lethal weapons.
Lockheed Martin wrapped up its acquisition of Aculight early last September, and with the acquisition, also acquired pulsed fiber and semiconductor laser expertise in national defense, aerospace, and medical applications, with off-the-shelf, developmental, custom laser systems, contract manufacturing, and fiber and semiconductor laser research.
Aculight has developed lasers for laser radar (LADAR), surveillance, mapping, and nonlinear optics conversion, as well as for infrared countermeasures and other optical warfare applications.
Robert Afzal, vice president of research and development at the new company, Lockheed Martin Aculight, says the acquisition went smoothly and relatively quickly because Aculight was such a natural fit for Lockheed Martin. He made his comments during an informal interview last week at the Photonics West trade show in San Jose, Calif.
No defense company that is interested in staying on the leading edge of technology in the future wants to let its competitors get the upper hand in a technology as promising as lasers. Lockheed Martin showed that with its acquisition of Aculight.
I'll be interested to see if America's prime defense contractors have other laser companies in their acquisition sights later this year.