Laser designation is the practice of shining a laser beam
on a target (illuminating
it) in order to mark it for destruction
by friendly forces
or their guided weapon
s. Recent models of laser designator
use infrared laser
s so as to avoid the spot being noticed by the targeted folks, and can encode
messages in their laser light pulses for verification
purposes as well as to allow multiple laser seeker
guided weapons to be used simultaneously without cross-targeting.
The U.S. military can presently designate targets in a variety of manners; ground troops have man-portable versions, ground vehicles have mounted designators, as do aircraft. In addition, some hand-held designators are small enough to be used by pilots of ground-support aircraft to confirm targeting information with Forward Air Controllers on the ground or in aircraft of their own.