We demonstrate the feasibility of applying the emerging technology of internal discrete amplification to create an efficient, ultra low noise, universal analog and counting photodetector for LIDAR remote sensing. Photodetectors with internal discrete amplification can operate in the linear detection mode with a gain-bandwidth product of up to 1015 and in the photon counting mode with count rates of up to 109 counts/sec. Detectors based on this mechanism could have performance parameters superior to those of conventional avalanche photodiodes and photomultiplier tubes. For silicon photodetector prototypes, measured excess noise factor is as low as 1.02 at gains greater than 100,000. This gives the photodetectors and, consequently, the LIDAR systems new capabilities that could lead to important advances in LIDAR remote sensing.