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Optically activated, high gain GaAs switches are being tested for many different applications. Two such applications are ground penetrating radar (GPR) and firing set switches. The ability of high gain GaAs photoconductive semiconductor switches (PCSS) to deliver fast risetime pulses makes them suitable for their use in radars that rely on fast impulses. This type of direct time domain radar is uniquely suited for the detection of buried items because it can operate at low frequency, high average power, and close to the ground, greatly increasing power on target. We have demonstrated that a PCSS based system can be used to produce a bipolar waveform with a total duration of about 6 ns and with minimal ringing. Such a pulse is radiated and returns from a 55 gallon drum are presented. For firing sets, the switch requirements include small size, high current, DC charging, radiation hardness and modest longevity. We have switched 1 kA at 1 kV and 2.8 kA at 3 kV DC charge.