This Navy Times story is one of several I have seen that report Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) displeasure that the Coast Guard is unable to use some of its laser equipment because of FDA regulation.
“The equipment in question is the Electro-Optical Sensor System and the PEQ-15, a laser sight with an illuminator. ESS is a turret installed on Coast Guard helicopters, with a laser illuminator that can enhance camera images, while PEQ-15 is a rifle sight with a laser illuminator. The Coast Guard is not allowed to use ESS at all, while PEQ-15 can be used on a low setting.”
Representative Hunter has done us a favor in bringing attention to the issue, but ultimately I think he will find that the FDA oversight requirement is based in law and Congress will have to change it.
There is, after all, a reason for regulating the use of lasers. We don’t like it when they are directed at our aircraft or at ships. We don’t want to blind people we are attempting to rescue. (Incidentally where is the FDA regulation of lasers in the hands of civilians?)
“Hunter wants to cut that red tape and allow the Coast Guard to certify its own laser systems, like the other military branches…”
That is all very well, but the Coast Guard probably does not have many laser experts who can do that, and we should not trust the word of our contractors. If Representative Hunter wants to introduce a bill to cut some of the read tape, by all means allow the Coast Guard to self certify if they develop the independent expertise to do that, but it would be more immediately useful if there was simply provision for DOD certification of Coast Guard equipment. This should include automatic application of DOD certification to any DOD type Coast Guard equipment used for the purpose for which it was certified.
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The Navy is pushing forward in developing laser weapons and dazzlers. https://news.usni.org/2018/02/26/laser_weapons_usnavy_330m