Optical countermeasures have been used for several millenia to provide a defensive capability capability. The fundamental approach is to use an intense optical source to dazzle a sensor or distract an operator or target tracking system causing a weapon to miss its intended target. The development of the laser has provided a stimulus for anumber of soft-kill weapon systems used to enhance platform survivability and anti-air missile applications; in this case the laser may cause dazzle, or if the beam is sufficiently intense it may cause damage. Laser technology is also crucial for an aspect of directed energy weapons.
The various aspects of optical countermeasures are considered in this paper, including defeat mechanisms of active and passive techniques. The review includes a historical perspective through to prospects for the future.