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Laser weapons may be a battlefield reality by the end of 2008

Laser weapons are an interesting subject that has been a staple of science fiction and movies for decades. Laser weapons will become a reality on the battlefield at some point -- though exactly when that point will be is a subject of debate.

When it comes to laser weapons there are two basic types: chemical and solid-state. The chemical lasers are powered by chemicals that would make them hazardous on most battlefields to the soldiers deploying the weapon systems. That makes the solid-state laser a more viable option for many weapon systems.

According to Wired, Northrop Grumman has told the Pentagon that it will have weapons grade lasers by the end of 2008. Northrop says that it will have a 100 kilowatt laser -- the strength widely considered the starting point for military grade weapons. That amount of power would be effective against rockets and mortars in flight.

To reach the 100-kilowatt threshold Northrop uses what it calls Laser Chains. The laser will use eight Laser Chains to achieve the full 100-kilowatt power. Northrop has tested the first two laser chains and was able to achieve a peak power of 30kW for over five minutes continuously and more than 40 minutes total. Northrop also reports that electrical-to-optical efficiency was greater than 19 percent.

A Northrop representative is quoted by Wired saying, "We are completely confident we will meet the 100 kW of power level and associated beam quality and runtime requirements of the JHPSSL Phase 3 program by the end of December, 2008."

DailyTech reported in August that Boeing had successfully ground tested the Advanced Tactical Laser aircraft's laser with a successful firing at a ground target.

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Finally something we can all agree on
By JasonMick on 9/3/2008 3:49:16 PM , Rating: 3
High powered death lasers == good

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Mitch101 on 9/3/2008 3:52:39 PM , Rating: 5
I want one for the movie theater with a targeting system. If you point your puny keychain laser at the movie screen then this one shoots back at you. Fun for everyone. It should also have cell phone seeker on it too.

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By AlvinCool on 9/3/2008 4:03:10 PM , Rating: 1
I'm thinking, tracking mirror with 5GW laser and a huge tub of popcorn.

As for those movie phones it's bad enough some ass has to text the entire movie but whats with all those losers leaving their flashing blue tooth headsets in their ears? I had to get up and have two of them remove them and take them off last time. They seemed quite indigent to me forcing them to turn them off

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By brizz on 9/3/2008 4:38:01 PM , Rating: 1
I'm thinking, tracking mirror with 5GW laser and a huge tub of popcorn.

Dang, beat me to the Real Genius reference :)

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By onelittleindian on 9/3/2008 6:53:08 PM , Rating: 3
>>> "I want to start seeing more of you in the lab."

>>> "Fine, I'll gain weight."

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Chernobyl68 on 9/4/2008 11:34:21 AM , Rating: 2
"Have you ever seen a body like this before in your life?"

"She's my daughter!"

"Oh, then I guess you have."

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By sigilscience on 9/4/2008 10:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
"If you're not Mitch, why are you wearing his underwear?"

By sigilscience on 9/4/2008 10:24:25 PM , Rating: 2
And my personal favorite:

"You're laborers, you should be laboring. That's what you get for not having an education."

By kattanna on 9/3/2008 4:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
could we also have it track seat movements.. so when it notices some brat sitting behind you kicking the chair it will vaporize him.. and the parent.. too?

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By FITCamaro on 9/3/2008 4:17:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather kill people who answer their cell phones in the theater. Or don't turn them off. Don't tell me you forgot. They have like 3 commercials saying to turn the damn things off.

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By amanojaku on 9/3/2008 4:36:39 PM , Rating: 5
Clearly you are naive. You can't FORGET when you aren't paying ATTENTION to those commercials. Because you're ON THE PHONE.

By omnicronx on 9/4/2008 9:48:24 AM , Rating: 2
You can't FORGET when you aren't paying ATTENTION to those commercials. Because you're ON THE PHONE.
I don't know about where you live, but all of those commercials in my area also show big bold subtitles on the screen.. but I suppose cell phone users turn their eyes off too ;)

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Polynikes on 9/3/2008 7:35:21 PM , Rating: 3
I counted four reminders the last time I saw a movie. Friggin' ridiculous.

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By rollakid on 9/3/2008 8:27:16 PM , Rating: 2
They should have signal jammers, so at least there won't be incoming calls.

... or pass a law to put people who are caught using their phone in jail?

By Clauzii on 9/4/2008 12:29:15 AM , Rating: 1
The mobile operator could have the GPS coordinates of locations where the phone should automatically set to flymode, theater mode or whatever automatic switching might be needed. As soon as the theater is entered some activasion of ring mode could be send by SMS.
I don't know if an automatic execution of some code could be done this way, but at least one would be able to spot the people BEFORE the movie, and with a too loud SMS ringtone, tell them to shot it down :D

By ira176 on 9/4/2008 10:41:51 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not sure that a law needs to be passed criminalizing rude cell phone users. I think that the theater operators need to step it up, and ask people to leave their facility, if people continue to use their cell phones during a movie. If that person refuses to leave, then the person is commiting a crime of trespass, and then they can be arrested.

By DeepBlue1975 on 9/4/2008 10:14:15 AM , Rating: 3
Never mind the commercials telling you in the most obvious and childish ways to turn the damn thing off...

The frigging lights going down and some speakers pouring out hundreds of watts of sound and the mere fact that you already passed the doors should be enough to tell "hey Joe, have we noticed that this is no place to be using the phone or are we too stupid to even get the most obvious signals and to obey the meaning of respect?"

Just seeing a non-belonging, localized glow in the theater's darkness or some "ghosted face" is bothersome enough, hearing the rings or people starting cell conversations while the movie is rolling is totally unbearable.

I keep asking to myself: why do those spend money on a theater when it's obvious they're not really interested in watching the movie, let alone allowing others around to watch it peacefully?

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Cheapshot on 9/3/2008 3:58:36 PM , Rating: 2
...but you know the Human rights movement will make the argument that these lasers can be set to stun against ground troops. Thereby resulting in massive POW camps...

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By AlvinCool on 9/3/2008 4:04:58 PM , Rating: 3
Well yeah, massive POW camps full of blind people. I'm just thinking of that laser show in Russia that burned all those retinas

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Misty Dingos on 9/4/2008 7:48:23 AM , Rating: 2
Yes the blind people that have holes all the way through there head. If this laser gets pointed at you it just burns you. It isn't in the visible light spectrum. That means you can't see it. Of course the instantaneous3rd degree burns (If that is all the laser did to you) where ever the laser hit you will likely cause your death. If you survive the laser you only have to worry about infection, skin grafts and agonizing years of recovery.

I know this has been long but please bear with me. When it came out I saw that crap fest called a movie War Of The Worlds with Tom Cruise. For you folks that saw that cinematic turd you remember the "death ray" the bad guys used. It would hit you and you went POOF into a gentle explosion of ashes. I had to ask some engineer friends but we finally came up with an approximate number for how many watts it would take to do something like that to a person. Hitting a human sized target of human sized weight composed of 75% water and 25% other stuff. And turning that water into steam in a second or less. That number is one million. One megawatt.

While these lasers are not in that class, I would imagine that a laser that can destroy a three inch wide mortar shell at over a mile away can punch a hole through a person in a few microseconds. It just won't be a gentle little burn. When it hits tissue it will cause the fluids to boil and turn into steam instantaneously. This will cause a steam explosion ripping the effected part to shreds. This explosion of steam will destroy surrounding tissue with shards of broken super heated bone and parboiled flesh. These wounds will be beyond any typical hospital to cope with on a singular case basis. A trauma center might be able to save the persons life but in the modern era war zone those are hard to come by.

In closing I would not worry about the blind. Just get a scoop shovel and bucket for the dead.

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Jim28 on 9/4/2008 12:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
How is this different than any other weapon?

You think that artillery doesn't cause horrifying wounds?
What about mines? Aerial bombardment? What about napalm, and willie pete? Nukes?

No weapons used in war are "humane".

Civilized war is an oxymoron.

By Davelo on 9/4/2008 3:08:49 PM , Rating: 3
and to think this thread was started with "High powered death lasers = Good". What's so good about being wasted by a death laser? It's sad to think about how much R&D that goes into thinking up ways to kill and maim people.

By Lazarus Dark on 9/7/2008 3:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
Holy cow. You should write scifi, you have an awesome way with words.

... at least as far as words describing exploding humans, anyway.

RE: Finally something we can all agree on
By Myg on 9/4/2008 4:46:18 AM , Rating: 3
public class government
private power myPower;
private selfishness mySelfishness;
private responsiblity myTakingResponsiblity;

public government(people[] citizens)
foreach(citizen a in citizens)

case lifeStyle.Dontcare
case lifeStyle.TooMuchMedia
case lifeStyle.TakePartInSociety


private void runGovernment()
if((myPower * TECHNOLOGY) > (myTakingResponsiblity - |mySelfishness|)


By Myg on 9/4/2008 4:47:38 AM , Rating: 2
yea; I know...
should be:

(citizen [] citizens)


By Schmide on 9/4/2008 5:17:24 AM , Rating: 3
You forgot to add a 3 way branch to


catch (Excpetion congress)
throw new SupremeCourtChallenge(congress);

By MrPoletski on 9/4/2008 6:57:29 AM , Rating: 2
but where are the sharks?

By Googer on 9/4/2008 5:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
Here is a video of a high energy laser shooting mortar rounds out of the sky.

By nugundam93 on 9/5/2008 5:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
a dozen clan large pulse lasers to go, please. :)

with matching heatsinks. :D

But how will we deploy it in battle
By foxtrot9 on 9/3/2008 4:11:34 PM , Rating: 3
Do we even have sharks big enough to mount this on or will we need to do some intense genetic engineering?

RE: But how will we deploy it in battle
By FITCamaro on 9/3/2008 4:18:48 PM , Rating: 2
You're behind the times.

Elephants with lasers on their heads. We are reviving the battle elephant. It has been long overdue. And is far more practical since sharks can't go on land.

RE: But how will we deploy it in battle
By SteelyKen on 9/3/2008 6:00:53 PM , Rating: 4

By JKflipflop98 on 9/4/2008 11:25:30 AM , Rating: 2
I'll get it!

No! Wait! It's that damned Landshark again!

RE: But how will we deploy it in battle
By Hyperion1400 on 9/3/2008 6:56:03 PM , Rating: 2
Nah, we need the sharks to go after the enemy's ship and then eat the crew that jumps overboard. The best part is that it won't violate the Geneva Convention. They are sharks we can't stop them from eating the enemy crew >:)

By EvixKeth on 9/3/2008 9:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
Sharks with GW lasers on their (frickin') heads would make Tom Clancy's Red October look like a plastic toy boat.

By OxBow on 9/3/2008 4:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
That's it, we need to start cloning fossilized megalodons to fit these to their heads.

Jurasic park meets Dr. Evil meets Jaws = the ulitmated summer blockbuster.

RE: But how will we deploy it in battle
By Brainonska511 on 9/3/2008 5:23:57 PM , Rating: 2
No sharks, but we'll have mutant sea bass that are ill tempered.

By 4wardtristan on 9/3/2008 6:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
gave me a good laugh to start my day thanks :D

retail therapy
By codeThug on 9/3/2008 6:01:04 PM , Rating: 2
I hope these will be available on newegg.

RE: retail therapy
By shin0bi272 on 9/3/2008 6:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
"The Terminator: The .45 Long Slide, with laser sighting.

Pawn Shop Clerk: These are brand new; we just got them in. That's a good gun. Just touch the trigger, the beam comes on and you put the red dot where you want the bullet to go. You can't miss. Anything else?

The Terminator: Phased-plasma rifle in the forty watt range.

Pawn Shop Clerk: Hey, just what you see, pal. "

RE: retail therapy
By Soccerman06 on 9/3/2008 7:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
laser != plasma

RE: retail therapy
By shin0bi272 on 9/3/2008 10:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
I know but its still funny

RE: retail therapy
By codeThug on 9/4/2008 2:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
phased plasma

RE: retail therapy
By oab on 9/3/2008 8:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
Already available on Wicked Lasers:

Want a laser powerful enough to burst balloons? Who doesn't.

By pauldovi on 9/3/2008 5:34:27 PM , Rating: 2
I would like to see the capacitor bank they have put together to fire that thing off!

RE: Capacitors
By randomly on 9/3/2008 6:42:49 PM , Rating: 3
They don't use capacitors, they use recycled Prius hybrid car batteries that are charged by an ecofriendly windpower generator mounted on top of the plane. The color of the laser beam is green for obvious reasons.

RE: Capacitors
By shin0bi272 on 9/3/2008 6:48:28 PM , Rating: 2

I thought it would just use the Flux Capacitor then I remembered that In order to fly the plane has to go faster than 88mph so it wouldnt work

RE: Capacitors
By spartan014 on 9/7/2008 11:48:26 PM , Rating: 2
What about the SMUG?

all is cool but...
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 9/3/2008 4:29:01 PM , Rating: 3
This is all great news and such, but there is only one question. So when will we be advanced enough so I can get my light-saber?? Is it too much to ask? On a side note, I think a light-saber would be great for trimming bushes, trees, any neighbor that gets in my way, and the dark side of the force.

RE: all is cool but...
By spuddyt on 9/3/2008 5:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
actually, yes, yes it is FAR too much to ask :p

RE: all is cool but...
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 9/3/2008 5:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
you're mean. :(

Slight correction
By masher2 on 9/3/2008 4:58:31 PM , Rating: 1
> "Northrop Grumman has told the Pentagon that it will have weapons grade lasers by the end of 2008. "

Actually, they said they'd have a weapons-grade solid-state laser by that time. We've had much more powerful chemical-based lasers for some time, in the multi-megawatt range. But as the article points out, there are downsides to that approach.

There's also more than just chemical and SS lasers for military use. There's been a bit of interest in things like nuclear-pumped x-ray lasers, FELs, and even the old CO2 gas laser. But admittedly, by far the bulk of the research lies in the first two categories.

RE: Slight correction
By Mclendo06 on 9/3/2008 5:14:01 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for that, I was wondering why the article mentioned the distinction between the two and then failed to say which type Northrop was developing.

RE: Slight correction
By TerranMagistrate on 9/3/2008 7:37:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, COIL lasers powerful enough to intercept ICBMs from hundreds of miles away in a matter of seconds yet bulky enough that they have to be mounted on 747s.

fully armed and operational battle station
By encia on 9/4/2008 6:25:37 AM , Rating: 1
As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station.
(into comlink)
Fire at will, Commander.

By gsellis on 9/4/2008 10:12:26 AM , Rating: 2
Will did nothing to deserve this. Leave Will Alone!

By foolsgambit11 on 9/4/2008 2:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
Especially when they talked about laser chains, I thought about the lasers coming together to form a giant laser on the Death Star.

Article image
By 9nails on 9/3/2008 8:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
OMG, that's the perfect image for this article!!! You nailed this one! I laughed out loud! :)

With laser's like this, we can increase Global Warming to a matter of weeks! Why wait for some carbon footprint to destroy us all when we can build a big friggin' laser to do it for us now?

RE: Article image
By Murloc on 9/5/2008 6:26:09 AM , Rating: 2
that's true, too much power consumption.

All Opposing Armies Shall
By Schmide on 9/4/2008 4:25:23 AM , Rating: 2
"Run Like Hell" (1980) and be "On the Run" (1973) for the Greatest Pink Floyd Light Show Ever.

RE: All Opposing Armies Shall
By codeThug on 9/4/2008 2:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm much more afraid of the flying pig. Maybe Raytheon should use the giant pig as a platform for the next uber FAE bomb.

When i think lasers I think. . .
By Fronzbot on 9/3/2008 5:29:44 PM , Rating: 1
. . .eye surgery!

Didn't see that one coming did you :p

By shin0bi272 on 9/3/2008 6:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
LOL no and neither would you since it would melt your face off in a few miliseconds

Friggin' lazer sharks
By Murloc on 9/5/2008 6:23:52 AM , Rating: 2
I wanna a battle ship with the form of a shark!!!11

Range Backstop = Infinity
By Quantem on 9/5/2008 7:26:00 PM , Rating: 2
I guess they've worked out the divergence enough to be confident that when they miss, and the beam proceeds unimpeded in the direction of the Large Magellanic Cloud, that it won't punch a hole in an alien and start Intergalactic War I !

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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