A laser-guided bomb (LGB) homes on the light reflected from a laser designator shining on a target for terminal guidance. It was the first modern type of tactical precision-guided munition. There are also guided missiles and guided shells that home on laser radiation. Today, there is a trend to merge the two major classes of guided bombs, with the complementary technologies of LGB terminal guidance and satellite-aided inertial midcourse guidance, at least when trying to hit a moving target using the go-onto-target paradigm.
Among the advantages of laser guidance is that in principle, the carrying aircraft need not be modified; the guidance can be completely in the bomb. In practice, however, the crew has some indication that the bomb has acquired the laser energy.
Lasers do not perform well in mist or smoke. They are also relatively short range, and, until recent technology improvements, need to be dropped from medium to high altitude.
The first practical ones were developed during the Vietnam War in approximately 1965, although they were not significantly used until 1972, when they brought down a major bridge considered nearly invulnerable. Their development was cooperative between the U.S. Air Force and Texas Instruments; the guidance package became known as PAVEWAY I. PAVEWAY laser guidance is in its third generation.
- Carlo Kopp (September, 1981 (updated 2005)), "Laser Guidance", Australian Aviation & Defence Review