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The Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) takes flight.  (Source: U.S. Air Force)

The ALTB's powerful megawatt-class High Energy Laser scores a hit on a target in January.  (Source: U.S. Air Force)

A production version of the ALTB may soon be patrolling the skies over battlefields of the future, shooting down enemy missiles.  (Source: U.S. Air Force)
Laser succeeds in tests against a liquid-fuel ballistic missile and a solid fuel rocket

The modern U.S. missile defense program traces its roots back the 1980s and the controversial "Star Wars" program.   While the 1980s program's ambitious goals proved utterly unrealistic for the time, they ignited interest in the topic, and today with modern electronics we are finally on the verge of realizing some of the project's key goals.

The U.S. Air Force just wrapped up testing Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) against real missiles with dummy payloads.  The results were a resounding success.

The ALTB at 8:44 p.m. (PST), February 11, 2010 fired on a "short-range threat-representative ballistic missile" and destroyed it.  The test began with the missile being detected by sensors and then the use of low-energy lasers to track the target and estimate atmospheric disturbance.  The missile "critical structural failure" while still boosting, after being hammered by the powerful megawatt-class High Energy Laser.

Next, a "solid fuel short-range missile" was launched, approximately an hour after the first launch.  Again, the test passed with flying colors, identical to a similar solid fuel rocket interception that was carried out last week on February 3.

The ALTB is a massive electronics platform loaded aboard a modified Boeing 747-400 Freighter aircraft.  The package features infrared sensors to first detect missiles by homing in to their exhaust plume.  It then employs to kilowatt-class lasers dubbed the Track and Beacon Illuminator, respectively, the first of which tracks the target with precision and the second of which accounts of the atmospheric disturbances.

Then comes the critical step.  A package in the plane's nose underbody uses a very large telescope to focus a megawatt-class COIL beam (generated by an Chemical Iodine Oxygen laser) onto sensitive regions of the target.

The success of the program has raised a great deal of interest in the U.S. Armed Forces for the the platform.  In addition to nuclear missile defense, it could be used as air platform to defend against a variety of traditional missile strikes in arenas across the world.  Firing the missile is somewhat expensive, requiring special chemicals to power the laser, however, it is still much cheaper than traditional missile-based interception technology, and it it has the advantage of being able to score hits on multiple missiles in quick succession.

The Air Force has also been testing a separate, similarly named laser dubbed the "Advanced Tactical Laser", which is mounted aboard a Hercules C-130H test aircraft.  The ATL is designed primarily to strike at ground targets from the air, while the ALTB strikes at missile threats.  The ATL will use a slightly less powerful laser, estimated to be between 100 and 300 kilowatts.  The ATL is also advancing well, scoring hits on moving ground targets.

In both cases, skepticism remains about how successful the designs would be against surprise attacks and evasive targets.  Nonetheless, optimism is high at the Air Force's advanced weapons division following the laser aircrafts' growing body of successful tests.



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A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 10:41:49 AM , Rating: 5
For anyone interested in peace, stability, and ending the threat of nuclear holocaust, this can only be construed as a great leap forward.




RE: A grand step forward
By nafhan on 2/12/2010 10:47:16 AM , Rating: 5
That's not what the Russian's think!


RE: A grand step forward
By FITCamaro on 2/12/2010 11:23:49 AM , Rating: 4
Yeah because it renders their ICBMs useless.


RE: A grand step forward
By erikejw on 2/14/2010 3:44:12 PM , Rating: 1
"For anyone interested in peace, stability, and ending the threat of nuclear holocaust, this can only be construed as a great leap forward. "

It seems as a massive step back.
The only reason that no nukes have been used after WW2 is the threat of retaliation.

If a power feel safe they can defend against an attack they are much more likely to use it as an attack weapon at some time.


RE: A grand step forward
By trisct on 2/16/2010 11:25:03 AM , Rating: 4
This is hardly going to be effective on a scale that would allow the USA to neutralize a threat on the scale of Russian missiles. That would take hundreds of planes flying continuous sorties, because if Russia decides to shoot, it won't be a dozen missiles, it will be a lot more.

This is meant to counter the Iranian or North Korea missile forces. Handily shooting down a half dozen missiles is all you really need there.


RE: A grand step forward
By ekv on 2/13/2010 2:52:14 AM , Rating: 5
Given Putin's recent grand-standing ... kind of just makes you want to say "neener, neener, neener" 8)


RE: A grand step forward
By del on 2/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By Hector256 on 2/14/2010 1:38:40 PM , Rating: 3
Space has been weaponized since Sputnik (which was essentially a technology demonstration for ICBMs).

The russians just fear their influence will wane if their most powerful weapon- the ICBM is marginalized. The ICBM is a SPACE weapon just as much as an anti-missile missile is, though, so arguing against defense against space weapons by building new space weapons seems pretty silly.


RE: A grand step forward
By delphinus100 on 2/14/2010 11:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Russians once wanted to classify the Space Shuttle (a NON 'quick reaction' system if there ever was one) as an anti-satellite weapon, too...


RE: A grand step forward
By WinstonSmith on 2/12/2010 10:52:06 AM , Rating: 1
Only if there were a very large number of them in orbit and the size of the laser system makes that WAY improbable even without a treaty against the weaponization of space. The plane or any number of them are sitting ducks.


RE: A grand step forward
By grenableu on 2/12/2010 11:03:23 AM , Rating: 5
You seen many US bombers get shot down recently? You might want to look up the phrase 'air superiority'.


RE: A grand step forward
By ksherman on 2/12/2010 11:12:41 AM , Rating: 3
Just because these versions are airborne, doesn't mean the tech couldn't be adopted for ground-based defensive positions. Airborne versions make convenient mobile platforms until a wide-scale deployment is fiscally possible.

Not to mention, my guess would be that firing this laser from an airborne platform is more complicated than a stationary emplacement. If they can nail this one down, it gets easier.


RE: A grand step forward
By Amiga500 on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:24:13 PM , Rating: 5
"Anyone still wondering why I am not a big fan of burning billions on the F-35? "

Yes, we are actually. The US is still at least a decade away from full-scale deployment of a system like this. Other nations are likely 3-5 decades away. That's a long time to continue using F-15s.

Furthermore, its unclear to me that such a system will invalidate the concept of air superiority. I think a flock of F-35s with miniaturized versions of these weapons would be your primary means of attacking an enemy's own directed-energy positions.


RE: A grand step forward
By Amiga500 on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 2:20:55 PM , Rating: 3
Lol, ZEUS-HLONS is a very low power system. It can take half a minute to heat up a mine enough to destroy it...and thats from a few hundred feet away. You think you're going to kill fighter jets with that?

MTHEL and HEL-TD are a different story. But those are technology demonstrators. They're not quite ready for prime time yet...and even if they were, funding, building, and deploying them in large numbers would take ten years, yes.


RE: A grand step forward
By invidious on 2/12/2010 3:35:32 PM , Rating: 5
The first nukes on Japan we used would not have been considered "ready for prime time" during peace time, but push came to shove and the military did what they needed to do to get the job done.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 3:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
We were also in a world war at the time, and devoting an enormous percentage of GDP to weapons development.

In a similar situation, I don't doubt we could deploy a directed-energy platform in less than five years. That's hardly a likely scenario though, now is it?


RE: A grand step forward
By Samus on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 10:28:46 PM , Rating: 5
Lol, so you think a couple centuries of "breeding" somehow genetically introduced diabetes and heart disease into a hitherto healthy African population? How do you explain the fact that diabetes is widespread in Africa today?

News flash for you, bright boy. Diabetes is affected strongly by diet and exercise, and their evil offspring: obesity rates. Blacks in the US suffer from this more than Blacks in Africa because they eat far more and get far less exercise. Diabetes is also a disease that strikes later in life. A nation with a life expectancy of 40 years is obviously going to have a much lower rate than one whose life expectancy is twice that.

As for your statements about radiation, they're even further off target. Within just one WEEK, the residual radiation levels at Hiroshima were 1/1,000,000 of the total dose received from the blast itself. Levels have long since returned to normal background levels. The idea that the Japanese will "never recover" is tinfoil-hat material.


RE: A grand step forward
By Baov on 2/13/2010 12:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Within just one WEEK, the residual radiation levels at Hiroshima were 1/1,000,000 of the total dose received from the blast itself. Levels have long since returned to normal background levels.

You're besides the point bright boy. The whole statement was about genetics and you don't need there to be any residual radiation for altered genes to perpetuate from generation to generation.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 2:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
"You're besides the point bright boy. The whole statement was about genetics "

Seeing a lot of three-headed babies born in Japan these days, 'bright boy'? We live in a constant bath of radiation, all from natural sources. The average dose runs 200-500mrems/year, but in some areas, it can be several times this. Year after year. It adds up into germn plasm damage, just as a single dose from a nuclear bomb does.

Beyond the first generation of Hiroshima survivors, the differences between their cumulative genetic damage and those of the population at large is effectively zero. The OP's talk of "never recovering" from the incident is nothing but emotional, irrational, infantile demagoguery.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 11:01:27 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
"Fat Man" was a mathematical miscalculation as the 20-kiloton blast was twice what was intended...when you rush things, that's the risk you take. They also killed 170,000 more people than intended
You're mixed up on this also. The Fat Man detonation was exactly what was expected. You're probably thinking of the earlier Trinity test (done in the US desert) in which the 20kt blast was more than twice what we expected. When Fat Man detonated, though, we knew exactly what we were getting.

Also, I have no idea where you get the ludicrous figure of 170,000 killed at Nagasaki. The real figure is about half that.


RE: A grand step forward
By SPOOFE on 2/13/2010 2:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd compare it to the destruction of many African populations via slave-trade.

Which is just silly; compare it to conventional tactics, and the estimates of casualties such tactics would have brought had they been used to take Japan. Compared to an amphibious assault and ground warfare, dropping two nukes looks downright humanitarian.


RE: A grand step forward
By majBUZZ on 2/12/2010 4:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
in 1982 when i was 12 my Dad took me to a defence conference at Sandia labs in New Mexico for military and govt weapons, he did software work for the govt at the time including software for the f-16 hud.

They had a mock up and model of this plane way back then , i think they have been waiting till it was feasible and they could shrink the guts of the system.

but my point is its been on the drawing board for at least 28 years probably a whole lot more since this was unveiled in a semi private environment open to defence contractors.


RE: A grand step forward
By Amiga500 on 2/12/2010 2:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think a flock of F-35s with miniaturized versions of these weapons would be your primary means of attacking an enemy's own directed-energy positions.


Are you serious?

Range is inversely proportional to power... your ALWAYS going to have more power, and thus range available on a ground station than on a dinky single engined fighter.

Any fighter sized aircraft would be a sitting duck.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 2:17:31 PM , Rating: 4
"Are you serious?"

Are you? Your arguments apply equally well to ANY ground-based weapons. You can put a bigger bomb or missile on the ground than you can in a fighter. Yetwe still use them, don't we? It's the ground installations that are the sitting ducks.

Ground stations are FIXED. Their positions are known beforehand. A fighter has to be tracked to be fired upon..and a stealth fighter with the radar echo of a mosquito is much more difficult to target than an installation that can't move around.

"Range is inversely proportional to power"

I don't think you said what you meant to say there. Range is actually directly proportional to the square of power. Actually, its a bit worse than that due to atmospheric attenuation, but a ground station is ging to need at least 4X the power to double its range.


RE: A grand step forward
By Amiga500 on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 2:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
You're still dodging the main point. Ground based sites ALREADY have much greater firepower than air-based ones. When you figure out why air power still dominates, you'll understand why that factor alone means little.

To throw you a bone, I'm not saying directed-energy weapons won't shift the balance of power considerably in favor of ground systems. But its a severe stretch to imagine it invalidating air power entirely.


RE: A grand step forward
By Amiga500 on 2/12/2010 3:16:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You're still dodging the main point.


Your still missing the paradigm shift...

A ground based missile has finite potential energy (PE)... too big and its a very expensive SAM, and at the same time it loses maneuverability*. A fighter has both PE and KE, and can often use those to play the energy game and avoid.

*For instance, the current long range (aircraft carried) AAMs are largely ineffective against modern fighters as they are too damn big to outmaneuvre them.

Now, when lasers arrive the ground station can fully leverage the advantage in all energy output to totally negate the kinetic and potential energy of the fighter.

Air power will no longer dominate. It will be interesting to see how things evolve over the next two or three decades. Probably in the direction of rail gun artillery...


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:08:52 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with everything you say. That still only proves a shift in the balance of power. It doesn't equate to neutralization of air power.

Possibly that day will come. Eventually. But it certainly won't be in the next 30-35 years.


RE: A grand step forward
By HotFoot on 2/12/2010 4:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
Airborne mobility is certainly going to be important for a long time - I just think of how IEDs have lead to increased demand on helicopters to ferry people around Afghanistan.

So, if laser technology does indeed shift the balance towards more capable ground-air interception, we could be in a tough place regarding mobility on the battlefield.


RE: A grand step forward
By HercDriver on 2/16/2010 1:30:49 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are overlooking one very important point. BAD WEATHER. Lasers are great when the weather is clear...throw in some clouds and rain, and they are useless. I'd just wait for some rain, then fly my "old fashioned" fighters over the top of your expensive ground based "ultra powerful" lasers, drop a few JDAMs and BANG...no more lasers.

The thing with the Airborne laser is that it flies above the clouds, and waits for the ICBM to emerge through them, before shooting. However, if the weather is bad at 40,000 feet, then the ABL won't be flying, and the ICBMs will get through. That's just another reason not to depend on either ground-based or airborne lasers for all of your defensive (or offensive) needs.

I'm all for "paradigm shifting" new weapons, but I don't think we'll ever be getting rid of our fighters and bombers. I think rail guns will have more of an effect than lasers, as you can shoot them in the rain, too. We'll see, as I plan to be around in 30 years.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 2:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
"Did you go google those acroynms I posted?"

ZEUS-HLONS I did...I hadn't heard of that one before, thanks. I was already well familiar with the others.


RE: A grand step forward
By karielash on 2/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By SunLord on 2/13/2010 7:06:47 AM , Rating: 5
The entire point of this ABL is to provide theater and tactical range protection from Ballistic Missiles. It's not really meant to protect the continental US from ICMBs since it's only designed to kill missiles in the boost phase ie right after launch.

This system is meant to protect our ground troops and allied nations from near by hostile nations namely protecting Japan and South Korea from say North Korea or maybe Taiwan from China.

In theory it could be used in Europe against Russian ICMBs but most of those are in Siberia or at least east of the Urals and way out of this things operational range. I mean the payload of the ABL is 20 shots and with only 7 being build that's only 140kills. Making it's total useless against Russia and probably even China.

Its meant to provide protection against rouge states like Iran and North Korea and protect troops from short range TBM in a combat zone.


RE: A grand step forward
By MrPoletski on 2/19/2010 4:33:33 AM , Rating: 2
You don't even need to carry the laser on a fighter, just fit a mirror/prism to it and fire the laser at that, the aircraft can deflect it to target afterwards...


RE: A grand step forward
By mellomonk on 2/15/2010 8:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
Even a ground based system such as this would probably be financially and technically ineffective against ICBMs in anything other then a small 'theater' defense role. ICBMs are best destroyed in the boost phase. In the 'Star Wars' era this was envisioned as a space based system to get line of sight during the boost phase. Once the 'bus' containing the warheads reaches it's apogee it is very hard to hit and can deploy a number of cheap counter measures to lower the odds of interception even more. In the terminal phase it is unlikely you can intercept and even if you manage to hit it you either set off an atmospheric blast which can produce a substantial EMP or you rain radioactive debris and probably Plutonium on your own territory. Neither of which is desirable.
The current systems such as this COIL laser do not have a high rate of fire, meaning you would have to deploy a good deal of them to even defend a small city sized area let alone the continental US. A space based system is still equally difficult. Besides the obvious political hurdles, launching and maintaining the large interceptor platforms as well as the advanced detection and tracking fleet of satellites needed would be unbelievably expensive.
This is an impressive technical system and a step forward, but there are still a good deal of questions as to it's cost and effectiveness. It remains to be seen if it will ever be deployed. The ability to shoot down a few theater ballistic missiles is valuable, but the dreamed of large shield remains many decades away technically and financially.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 10:14:30 AM , Rating: 2
This sounds all like part of Newsweek's series anti-SDI articles, circa 1983. You're about 25 years behind the times on your facts. Let's correct a few of your little factoids:

"In the terminal phase it is unlikely you can intercept "

The US is already regularly intercepting missiles during terminal phase. Furthermore, they're doing it with kinetic energy kills. With a laser moving the speed of light, its much easier

"COIL laser do not have a high rate of fire, meaning you would have to deploy a good deal of them to even defend a small city "

COIL can fire once every few minutes, giving you about 4-5 intercepts per system, assuming all missiles are fired at once. You'd need to build about 1/4 of these systems as the other side has missiles. Russia has a bit less than 1,000 nuclear missiles now, meaning you could neutralize their entire fleet with 250 of these. At a far LOWER cost than Russia expends building and maintaining its nuclear arsenal.

That's today. In 10 years, rate of fire is expected to triple or more, meaning you'd need less than 100 to fully protect yourself.

"even if you manage to hit it you either set off an atmospheric blast which can produce a substantial EMP or you rain radioactive debris"

Nuclear warheads don't explode when intercepted. As for the 'radioactive debris', its unlikely to harm anyone. See my other posts for more information on this.

"the dreamed of large shield remains many decades away "

The large shield is here today. It already protects parts of the US. The only thing preventing it the entire country from a full-scale assault is the political will needed to build more interceptors:

http://www.dailytech.com/US+Missile+Defense+Shield...


RE: A grand step forward
By barjebus on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 10:59:45 AM , Rating: 3
" that means you can launch your own nukes with impunity and no fear of retribution"

You're right, the US regularly launches nuclear missiles with impunity, doesn't it?

When are you numbskulls going to get it through your head? A world in which 50 different nations can all launch nuclear missiles at whomever, whenever, is NOT a safe, peaceful situation. A world in which those missiles can be stopped reliably and immediately, is.


RE: A grand step forward
By PrinceGaz on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 12:54:01 PM , Rating: 5
" lets make a list of which countries have used nuclear weapons "

Let's make a list of countries which have used nuclear weapons against nations which hadn't already launched sneak attacks against them:

(crickets)

Now, let's make a list of nations which have threatened unilateral use of nuclear weapons at one point or another:

Russia,
North Korea
Iran (already planning ahead for when it gets them)
Pakistan (depending on who you ask)
Israel (no explicit threat, but they had nuclear missiles rolled out and launch codes distributed during the Yom Kippur War).

The US has had nuclear weapons longer than any other country on earth, and has shown itself to be an extraordinarily responsible steward. Only a fool would abrogate that trust to a less responsible nation.


RE: A grand step forward
By MrPoletski on 2/19/2010 4:49:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Iran (already planning ahead for when it gets them)


Citation please.

You're all good in your argument, but I find it a little ridiculous for somebody to claim that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons while they, in unison as a nation, deny the existance of a nuclear weapons program and no evidence has been found of an active program.

The country I'd be worried about with regards to nuclear weapons is Israel.


RE: A grand step forward
By lightfoot on 2/12/2010 1:10:09 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
...some republican nutjob...

Harry Truman (the US President who authorized the use of atomic weapons on Japan) was a Democrat.

Keep the partisan politics out of this discussion - it has no place here.

Also the number of civilian casualties suffered in Tokyo and Berlin far exceed the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Without historical context your argument means nothing.


RE: A grand step forward
By Nfarce on 2/12/2010 1:13:14 PM , Rating: 3
Please, don't let facts get in the way of a good little mindless bedwetting pacifist peacenik rant!


RE: A grand step forward
By ClownPuncher on 2/12/2010 1:32:51 PM , Rating: 4
Add Dresden to that list too.


RE: A grand step forward
By Farfignewton on 2/12/2010 7:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well lets make a list of which countries have used nuclear weapons against others: 1. The US 2. erm, ummm, there aren't any others So with that track record, I wouldn't trust the US with the ability to nuke another country, knowing there can be no retaliation.


Yes, after japan surrendered, we nuked the rest of the world because no one could retaliate. I remember that. Sorta.


RE: A grand step forward
By Amiga500 on 2/12/2010 1:16:00 PM , Rating: 3
You aren't reading what he is saying!

Whether the US fires nukes regularly or not is of little concern to the Russians.

With ICBMs they have a lever in negotiations with the US (as do the US over Russia). If the Russian ICBMs are no longer effective weapons, bang goes their leverage.

Simples. Not painting either side as evil - its simple objective strategy.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:26:24 PM , Rating: 5
"If the Russian ICBMs are no longer effective weapons, bang goes their leverage."

That's exactly what I said in another post. However, when your "leverage" consists of holding millions of innocent civilians hostage for their lives, I say good riddance to that leverage.

And yes, I include the US in that statement. Once the US has a full scale missile defense system in place, I'll be the first to advocate for large-scale reductions in our offensive nuclear arsenal.


RE: A grand step forward
By ekv on 2/13/2010 3:17:37 AM , Rating: 3
"Whether the US fires nukes regularly" is most certainly a concern for the Russians. That point is illogical and doesn't support your argument.

"Not painting either side as evil" ....
One of the things that came to mind was Hall & Oates, "I can't go for that, no, no can do." Sorry 8) But, when you start down the psycho-babble road you head for non-terminating recursion. Like, he-said, she-said legal cases.

What if they call us "evil"? And refuse to retract the statement? Umm, much like Iranian leadership, et al. It just goes on and on. Pointless.

I consider a defensive posture more morally tenable than an offensive stratagem like M.A.D.


RE: A grand step forward
By SunLord on 2/13/2010 7:30:04 AM , Rating: 3
The ABL project is totally worthless against any nation with more then 150 BMs which means it is of Zero threat to Russia or China as both have enough ballistic missiles of multiple type to make the 7 proposed ABL worthless against them even if they had the range to affect the boost phase of vast majority of ICBM launches from either of those nations.

Any claims by Russia or anyone else that this system make the threat of MAD something of the past is a fucking idiot and drama queen. This system is designed to provide direct protection from Theater based ballistic missiles like the SCUD or intercept ICBMs in boost phase from a nation like Iran and North Korea or intercept a nuclear war between Pakistan and India.

Of course if they were talking about the ground based interceptors you might has some sort of point well if we build several thousand of them at least.

If Russia or China use nukes on the US or an ally they will use them all at once as anything else is pointless and suicide so a interceptor system would need to be able to kill everye single one of them. So you'd problem really want a redundant system you'd at least want two interceptors per possible BM to really be a true missile shield that would make MAD no longer realistic but since there are no plans to build several hundred ground based interceptors missiles let alone deploy several hundred launchers it's a non-issue outside of being good political fodder.

In the end the missile shield will never be a threat to Russia or even China as both have far more ICBMs that we realistically plan to build and be able to intercept. The missile shield is meant to stop and destroy nuclear weapons from rouge states like North Korea or mitigate regional nuclear war like Pakistan and India or Iran and Israel from going at each other.


RE: A grand step forward
By KGBird on 2/13/2010 10:53:28 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, this guy gets rated a 1? He's right!! The other point that was mentioned in another post is that the ABL is a system for theater use. For it to be used against Russia or China, we will need air superiority. Air superiority over those places is not going to happen. ABL is for the Iran and North Korea types only.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 11:01:15 AM , Rating: 2
"The ABL project is totally worthless against any nation with more then 150 BMs"

The succesful deployment of this project will lead to additional phases, and new projects spawning off the technology.

"you'd at least want two interceptors per possible BM to really be a true missile shield that would make MAD no longer realistic "

Fallacious thinking. If the US can intercept 90% of an incoming missile storm, Russia would never launch in the first place. Of those that weren't intercepted, at least a third would miss their targets entirely (quite possibly more, but we'll give Russia credit for upgrading in recent years). What remains is not nearly enough to provide a deterrent. It wouldn't be "assured destruction", it would simply be enough to severely annoy the US.

The idea that "if a single missile gets through, the shield is worthless" is nonsense. If a single missile strike was a credible deterrent force, then the USSR would have only built one or two in the first place, rather than the 20,000 they did.

"If Russia or China use nukes on the US or an ally they will use them all at once as anything else is pointless and suicide "

That's actually not true either...at least not in all cases. Most wargames (in the absence of ABM technology at least) had the Soviets launching a sneak attack against our own nuclear assets, but retaining a significant percentage of their arsenal as a "city-buster" deterrent against our retaliation with whatever escaped their first wave.


RE: A grand step forward
By SPOOFE on 2/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By cmdrdredd on 2/14/2010 11:50:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
With ICBMs they have a lever in negotiations with the US (as do the US over Russia). If the Russian ICBMs are no longer effective weapons, bang goes their leverage.


Who really cares about the Russian's leverage when they do EVERYTHING in their power to hinder the rest of the world who is trying to keep countries like Iran in line. They veto everything worthwhile in the UN making the UN more of a joke than it is. Russia is nothing but garbage in the political world.


RE: A grand step forward
By ksherman on 2/12/2010 11:07:34 AM , Rating: 3
OR...

The US could dramatically scale back their nuclear arsenal now that there is a suitable defense. The reason for a large inventory is for retaliatory strikes as a deterrent. With an effective defensive platform, the need for as large an arsenal that we do have become minimized.

But, yes, I do understand the argument and it does have some merit. But at some point we have to move away from nervous and tenuous relations based on mutual destruction towards a more productive relationship. Can this happen? Who knows.


RE: A grand step forward
By Pneumothorax on 2/12/2010 11:50:01 AM , Rating: 2
So what's to stop smuggler's bringing Iranian and/or N.K. nukes across the US/Mex border and detonating near a city center? As long as we idiots leading countries like Iran/North Korea, we need enough nukes to "glassify" their country if they try such a thing.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 12:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
We have many other means to stop nukes delivered by car or truck. Without missile defense, we have NO way to stop an ICBM.

Furthermore, a missile is fast...30 minutes or less, and your target is gone. Smuggling a nuke across a border requires days or even weeks of planning and execution...plenty of time for the operation to be blocked, or a hot-headed ruler to change his mind and think better.

Still further, you might possibly smuggle in a single nuke and take out a portion of one city...but you'll never smuggle in a few hundred or a few thousand, and wipe out the entire country. With missiles, that's a very real possibility.


RE: A grand step forward
By Iaiken on 2/12/2010 3:13:38 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention that devices like the RS-24 represent a significant advance in Russian strategic missile systems.

These represent an deliberate expansion of the Russian nuclear arsenal. The replacement of the 69 known Topol-M single warhead missiles with the newer 10 MIRV warhead missiles represents an expansion to 690 warheads.

The only problem I have with the missile shield is that there has been very little in the way of sharing and an incredible amount of distrust.

Unfortunately, if there were a Russian counterpart system both nations would undoubtedly continue to develop delivery systems that would allow them to circumvent the shields.

Some men invented pointy sticks so other men invented wooden shields... Now just sit back and wait for the next generation pointy stick of mass destruction...


RE: A grand step forward
By Pneumothorax on 2/12/2010 3:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
Bring back the Peacekeeper!


RE: A grand step forward
By dgingeri on 2/12/2010 12:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
This is the second most likely situation how we'd get attacked by a nuclear device.

the more likely one is where Iran develops nukes, uses somali pirates to get a cargo ship or two, loads them up with a nuke on the top cargo pod, then detonates them in LA Harbor or SF Bay before Customs even looks at the contents. We would have no defense against it in either place.

This is where the CIA is our best defense. They would have to get intel on this far before it would happen, and stop it while in other countries.

Better defense: if Iran comes close to getting nukes, we'd have to invade them to keep them from using them on us. N Korea couldn't do this because they don't have the relationship with Islamic extremists that Iran does. If we let Iran have nukes, it would only be a matter of time before they'd destroy one of our western port cities.


RE: A grand step forward
By Suntan on 2/12/2010 12:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the more likely one is where Iran develops nukes, uses somali pirates to get a cargo ship or two, loads them up with a nuke on the top cargo pod, then detonates them in LA Harbor or SF Bay before Customs even looks at the contents. We would have no defense against it in either place.


Ahhh... In what situation do you see a shipping company lose possession of their oceanliner and then not realize it for the two to three weeks it takes to transit between the Horn of Africa and the West Coast?

-Suntan


RE: A grand step forward
By Hogger1 on 2/12/2010 1:41:36 PM , Rating: 3
They'd also have to get by Jack Bauer. Not happening.


RE: A grand step forward
By Nfarce on 2/12/2010 1:27:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the more likely one is where Iran develops nukes, uses somali pirates to get a cargo ship or two, loads them up with a nuke on the top cargo pod, then detonates them in LA Harbor or SF Bay before Customs even looks at the contents.


If you think the US Navy and Coast Guard would allow a pirated cargo ship within even a hundred miles of the US coastline before inspection, I've got a suspension bridge in Montana to sell you.


RE: A grand step forward
By lightfoot on 2/12/2010 1:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that a cargo ship wouldn't even need to be pirated. How much would it really cost to bribe a crew of 15? It's not like smuggling doesn't already occur on a fairly regular basis.


RE: A grand step forward
By knutjb on 2/12/2010 2:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
True and all anyone would need to would be near the coast for the EMP blast to kill transistor based electronics. (that's one reason why the Russians used vacuum tubes for so long, they only stop working during the blast) Even a small bomb could wreak immense damage to the unprotected electrical grid.

Detente didn't work but the left failed in their idyllic beliefs in revisionist history so they keep trying to push for a cooling of tension through talk rather than fixing the problem in the first place. To negotiate one must be in a position of superior power. Reagan proved the positive side and JFK proved what happens when you don't i.e. the Cuban Missile Crisis.

To those above light intensity follows the inverse square, then add atmospheric distortions from temp and moisture. Now there's a math equation.


RE: A grand step forward
By shin0bi272 on 2/12/2010 4:09:21 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Detente didn't work but the left failed in their idyllic beliefs in revisionist history so they keep trying to push for a cooling of tension through talk rather than fixing the problem in the first place. To negotiate one must be in a position of superior power. Reagan proved the positive side and JFK proved what happens when you don't i.e. the Cuban Missile Crisis.


That's exactly what I was thinking. Gorbachev even said that he knew we didnt have any serious plans on SDI (aka star wars) but he said he knew we were the one country who could do it. That's what brought him to the negotiating table... but like you said the revisionist historians want to give gorby all the credit for winning the cold war... he gave up because he was afraid not because he won.

With this airborne laser we now have a whole new ballgame in ballistic defense. A few hundred of these flying over key areas (i.e. the sea of japan, the persian gulf, the arctic ocean) and we wont be seeing too many icbm's headed towards the US or its allies should world war 3 kick off at some point.


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 8:48:05 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Detente didn't work but the left failed in their idyllic beliefs in revisionist history so they keep trying to push for a cooling of tension through talk rather than fixing the problem in the first place. To negotiate one must be in a position of superior power. Reagan proved the positive side and JFK proved what happens when you don't i.e. the Cuban Missile Crisis


What are you on about? Reagan contributed to the escalation of tensions. And the soviet nuclear stockpile in the early to mid 80s was increasing rapidly. Kennedy on the other hand campaigned over a non existent missile gap. He was convinced the Soviets held the advantage when they were bluffing the entire time, and it was the US that was in a position of power at the time. The Soviets also came closer to implementing working "star wars" hardware in the 80s with the planned test of the Skif-DM, and Gorbachev cancelled it precisely because he knew that a soviet escalation into space weapons would torpedo the easing of tensions that was occurring in the late 80s.


RE: A grand step forward
By ekv on 2/13/2010 4:09:19 AM , Rating: 2
Well, Reagan was one scary son of a b****. Wouldn't necessarily want to mess him, personally.

Skif-DM. Interesting. Thanks. Kind of a technological fore-runner to their Bulava missile (NATO designation SS-NX-30). Space weaponization treaties not-withstanding.

Conventional wisdom was that Gorby had a heart for his people and the excessive financial burden they were bearing. He realized their economy could not sustain a weapons development race with the Capitalists.

Curious how economic conditions can be a military liability, no?


RE: A grand step forward
By knutjb on 2/13/2010 1:12:04 PM , Rating: 3
You have a backwards view of history. Reagan used GLICMs and started building the infrastructure in the UK is what forced the Soviets back to the table. Jimmy Carter had made massive cuts in military spending and was seen as weak by the Soviets, who were in no way willing to talk in any substantive way BECAUSE of that. Whether JFK was correct or not HE DID NOT understand how to negotiate with the Soviets. JFK was viewed by Kruschev as weak for asking for negotiations WITHOUT using a position of power. JFK's action led Kruschev shipping missiles to Cuba.

Buying into Reagan's "escalation" as at fault and not solution is hook line and sinker "conventional wisdom" BS. Reagan saw sitting down at a table with the Soviets, WHO WERE trying to overthrow the US, without something to motivate them was never going to achieve anything positive.
quote:
What are you on about? Reagan contributed to the escalation of tensions. And the soviet nuclear stockpile in the early to mid 80s was increasing rapidly.

quote:
Gorbachev cancelled it precisely because he knew that a soviet escalation into space weapons would torpedo the easing of tensions that was occurring in the late 80s.
WAS BECAUSE OF REAGAN. You said "easing of tensions" look at your dates and when was Reagan President? Learn history on your own, colleges are giving you a highly biased POV.

The conventional wisdom of having negotiations with "rational" discourse and we can talk out our differences never works. It fails by discounting irrational human behavior and thinking you know what the other side wants. When one party has a position of power over the other, the weaker one capitulates. That is where Detente failed. Reagan was successful because he created a desire to negotiate i.e. escalation through the GLICM and used that as a sacrificial weapons system. The Soviets came to him and all Reagan had to give up was what HE wanted to give up, not the other way round. It was unconventional, but highly effective.

Show me a negotiation in history where two sides in a conflict came to a rational solution, hot or cold, solely on that "rational" idea AND both were equal in power. You can't because that is not how the world turns. Irrational to you, expected human behavior to me. One side is always stronger and able to press change. You don't want to be on the weak side.

Reagan's Star Wars idea was putting together what the military had been doing all along.
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsh...
This aircraft started ABL flight testing in the mid 70s, well before Reagan.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 2:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
"Learn history on your own, colleges are giving you a highly biased POV."

Most college history professors have long since abandoned history as an independent, objective subject, and instead use it simply as a springboard to advance their political and social beliefs.

Particularly amusing are the recent crop of textbooks, that attempt to more "fairly" teach world history by devoting equal time to the noneventual historical record of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia, thereby implicitly denigrating the actual events that actually shaped our modern world.

But who cares if students actually learn something useful, as long as they're taught 'fairly', eh?


RE: A grand step forward
By Nfarce on 2/12/2010 3:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem is that a cargo ship wouldn't even need to be pirated. How much would it really cost to bribe a crew of 15? It's not like smuggling doesn't already occur on a fairly regular basis.


True indeed. However, in most major ports containers that are to be loaded on a ship are scanned with both penetrating radar for visual contents and with radiological detection systems.

The National Geographic Channel ran an episode a few years ago on container ships and shipping, and security and manifest validation was one of the focuses of the documentary.


RE: A grand step forward
By Nfarce on 2/12/2010 1:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So what's to stop smuggler's bringing Iranian and/or N.K. nukes across the US/Mex border and detonating near a city center?


For the US (via interstate highway anyway) any attempted nuclear device would likely be sniffed out from radiation detectors - depending on entry to said US. Those little unmarked white boxes either on the side of the road or overhead are there for a reason. And then we have portable detection devices used by law enforcement against suspicious vehicles. While certainly not foolproof, it makes it much harder to smuggle in a device - and that goes for the border up north too.

Of course, they can always risk their lives and walk the pieces in through the desert from the South or through rugged remote mountain terrain from the North.


RE: A grand step forward
By lightfoot on 2/12/2010 2:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
Those little white boxes are great for dirty bombs and radiological devices, but not so good for properly designed and shielded nuclear devices. And moving even a small nuclear device would take at least a light duty truck, moving it on foot would be virtually impossible.

The borders are really our first and last line of defense, at least from a practical stand point.


RE: A grand step forward
By zozzlhandler on 2/12/2010 11:12:08 AM , Rating: 5
I, for one, believe that the MAD doctrine was very aptly named.

Mutually assured survival is surely a better (and saner) path.


RE: A grand step forward
By grenableu on 2/12/2010 10:54:27 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, this is a fantastic step. In fact, once we have these widely deployed, why would anyone even bother producing missiles any more? They'll just get shot down right off the pad.


RE: A grand step forward
By geddarkstorm on 2/12/2010 12:53:03 PM , Rating: 4
The cannon and gunpowder ended the era of castles and armored knights. The machine gun ended the era of cavalry. The tank and mechanized infantry ended the era of fixed "pillbox" defenses and trenches. The airplane ended the era of battleships.

Lasers have the potential to end the era of airplanes and missiles as we know it. But what will be developed to counteract lasers? Something always will be.


RE: A grand step forward
By Aeonic on 2/12/2010 2:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
Shiny airplanes :]


RE: A grand step forward
By kyleb2112 on 2/15/2010 3:00:15 AM , Rating: 2
The time has finally come to reassess the strategic significance of disco balls.
Maybe they'll listen now.


RE: A grand step forward
By HercDriver on 2/16/2010 1:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But what will be developed to counteract lasers?

Mother Nature has already invented it. It's called clouds and rain.


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:46:44 PM , Rating: 2
"Because it would never start an arms race"

Any sane nation would "arms race" us to building its own missile defense capabilities. A development I personally would welcome.

"Because countries that have nuclear weapons no longer fight conventional wars?"

No, but any sane person rightfully fears conventional war much less than they do nuclear ones. Does missile defense equate to world peace? Only an idiot would read that into my words. It simply means the end of the morally repugnant and exceedingly dangerous strategy of MAD.

"Because we can fight dirty bombs with lasers?"

Of course. Do you think we can't? A bomb, enhanced radiation or otherwise, still has to be delivered and exploded at its target site.

Now, if by "dirty bomb" you mean a terrorist-delivered conventional explosive, that just has some radiological material added to it, then I'd suggest you research your topic a bit more. Such devices may inspire fear among the ignorant, but their actual ability to do damage is very low.


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 2:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
"Any sane nation would not sink billions into defensive weapons of questionable utility when they can sink millions into better offensive weapons"

Are you trying to embarrass yourself? Do you actually believe a nation can design, develop, build, deploy, and maintain a fleet of nuclear ICBMs for "millions". A nuclear weapons program alone -- never mind the delivery system -- cost billions alone. Even basic ICBM capability can cost that much again...nevermind attempting to develop something that has even rudimentary countermeasure capabilities.

Even sillier is your belief that such a system would be "better" than a directed-energy weapon capable of reliably and instantly knocking it out the sky as soon as it launches. How is that "better"?

" You think if it was just 1000 we would say "oh... that's not enough damage, it's ok". "

Not sure what point you think you're trying to make here. A "dirty bomb" as you describe is no more dangerous than a similar-sized package of conventional explosives.

Is missile defense designed to prevent terrorists from exploding conventional explosives on some city street corner? No. We have many OTHER ways to prevent that.


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
"Where did I say anything about deploying a fleet of ICBMs?"

You claimed that, for a few 'millions', a nation could build offensive weaponry capable of overwhelming a multi-billion dollar ABM system. This is ludicrous. In fact, its so outrageous I don't even know why I'm wasting time replying to someone who would say something so stupid.

Spin the little propeller on top of your cap and see what other gems you can come up with. Perhaps you want to tell us all again how the atmosphere doesn't absorb infrared?

" I said that missile defense will not suddenly make things more peaceful"

Once again, I never said ABM systems would result in immediate world peace. They'll simply remove the spectre of nuclear holocaust from the table. Well worth the paltry price tag.


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
"Just like it's ludicrous for 50 dollar bombs to blow up million dollar tanks?"

Lol, you're not trying to "blow up" an interceptor. You're trying to get past it...preferably with your nuclear warhead intact and undamaged.

Please explain to us how you can negate a multi-billion dollar ABM system with "a few million" in weapons development. The Russians would be particular pleased to hear your great secret, as they've spent more than $1B on the maneuvering warhead of the Topol-M (plus many billions more just to maintain the missiles themselves) and have had very limited success so far. They've spent billions more investigating decoy systems, ablative/reflective coatings, fast-burn boosters, and other systems.

They're STILL mortally afraid of missile defense. Care to guess why?

"Infrared is a band you idiot. It transmits some wavelengths and absorbs others."

There is NO range of the infrared band that fully passes through our atmosphere. None. Even those wavelengths least absorbed are significantly more attenuated than is visible light (excluding near-UV, that is).

An oxygen-iodine laser such as this operates at 1315 nm. Take a look at the atmosphere's absorption spectrum for that wavelength, and tell me what you see, hot shot:

http://img521.imageshack.us/i/spectra.png/


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 9:14:44 PM , Rating: 1
"Lol, you're not trying to "blow up" an interceptor. You're trying to get past it...preferably with your nuclear warhead intact and undamaged."

If you can't see that it was an analogy, I can't help you.

"They're STILL mortally afraid of missile defense. Care to guess why?"

They don't look very afraid to me, more like angry. They were mortally afraid of Reagan's stars wars, but that time has passed.

"There is NO range of the infrared band that fully passes through our atmosphere. None. Even those wavelengths least absorbed are significantly more attenuated than is visible light (excluding near-UV, that is)."

You picked out 1 random fact about the atmosphere and keep pushing it like it's the only significant thing. This is irrelevant. It only applies to shooting a laser from space. These lasers are flown on planes flying relatively low in the atmosphere. If you notice in my other post I listed numerous things that affect visible wavelengths but don't affect near infrared. There are a lot of important considerations such as scattering, refraction, dispersion, ability to penetrate cloud cover, etc, which combined are more important then your absorption numbers.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 10:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
Since you lack the backbone to admit you were wrong, let me remind you of what started this all:
quote:
Maven: Infrared is LESS effected by the atmosphere. Shorter wavelengths (like blue) get scattered by the atmosphere...
I showed you this was wrong, now you've again moved the goalposts to "there are other important considerations".

Ironically, you're STILL wrong. The most important factors for directed energy weapon propagation are a) thermal blooming (causes negative lensing), b) absorption, and c) beam quality. The third one is the easiest to analyze. Shorter wavelengths do better for beam focus. Period.

Factors (a) and (b) are more complex, but blooming is heavily tied to to overall absorption. In short, you want a wavelength that optimizes all three factors.

I dug up this Rand Corp. study which demonstrates this quite clearly. Reducing the laser wavelength from 2700nm (HF laser) to 1300nm (Iodine laser) resulted in a 4X better kill rate and the ability to penetrate several km deeper into the atmosphere. By your original statement, this shorter wavelength should be much more several affected by "scattering and stuff".

http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1209/...

I have no idea where you get the idiotic notion that atmospheric absorption only affects "lasers shot from space". The atmosphere affects any DE weapon, and is the primarily (in some cases, the only) limiting factor on range and efficacy. In fact, ground-based DE weapons are limited MORE by atmospheric effects than a space-based weapon. The atmosphere is thicker near the ground, remember? A space-based system can potentially intercept a missile at periapsis, when it has little atmosphere to punch through. A ground-based system doesn't have that luxury.

Now please, abandon the habits of a lifetime and admit you were way off base. Or if you can't do that, just quietly abandon the topic and move on.


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/13/2010 12:13:51 PM , Rating: 1
"I showed you this was wrong, now you've again moved the goalposts to "there are other important considerations".

What I said was absolutely correct. When it comes to dispersion, refraction, scattering near infrared is less affected by the atmosphere.
Now you could have argued that it's less important then absorption, fine. I'm not a weapons designer, and maybe for them these factors make no difference. Trying to say that everything I said was wrong was pure arrogance, and nothing else.

And I'm afraid comparing two infrared wavelengths doesn't prove your point either. I specifically compared infrared to short optical wavelengths, like blue.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 6:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
"Now you could have argued that it's less important then absorption, fine. I'm not a weapons designer..."

You're also not someone with any sense of honesty. Since you've conveniently forgotten what started all this, let me remind you.

Porkpie: "infrared is an extremely poor wavelength in terms of atmospheric attenuation. . We'd rather have a laser operating in the visible spectrum...

Maven81: "you got that backwards Professor. Shorter wavelengths are effected [sic] more".

Grow a spine, and admit you were wrong.


RE: A grand step forward
By karielash on 2/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/14/2010 2:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
Still upset because someone pointed out the errors in your history factoids? Sheeze, get over it already.


RE: A grand step forward
By karielash on 2/15/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/15/2010 11:19:16 AM , Rating: 2
Why don't you stop embarrassing yourself? Do you really think DU sabots are that rare? I have one on my desk right now.


RE: A grand step forward
By karielash on 2/15/2010 1:02:38 PM , Rating: 1

lol... Of course you do.. I believe you 100%. Right next to your Laser plans no doubt, probably even using it as a bookmark...


RE: A grand step forward
By grenableu on 2/12/2010 4:54:02 PM , Rating: 2
Air absorbs infrared. Why are you even arguing this? 80% of yellow light from the sun passes through the atmosphere, but only 10% of infrared does. We see using visible light for a reason you know.


RE: A grand step forward
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
"in other words there were gems just like you 60 years ago predicting that the existence of nuclear weapons alone would lead to peace"

Actually, I believe it was the fruits on YOUR side of the aisle continually telling us that nuclear weapons mean war is now too dangerous to ever occur. Isn't that the entire basis of MAD that you love so much?


RE: A grand step forward
By maven81 on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: A grand step forward
By invidious on 2/12/2010 3:45:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For anyone interested in peace, stability, and ending the threat of nuclear holocaust, this can only be construed as a great leap forward.
I am not sure that removing muturally assured destruction is a good thing for avoiding nuclear wars.


RE: A grand step forward
By mars2k on 2/15/2010 10:42:55 AM , Rating: 1
Porkpie you sound like Bagdad Bob, don't get me wrong I think having a working laser is great but we spent how much on this little military toy? I think it will be much cheaper to find a way around using a missile.
Still, having a working laser is cool. We can improve it and improve it and then the Chinese can steal it and use it to make Buicks.


Well...
By xpax on 2/12/2010 10:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In both cases, skepticism remains about how successful the designs would be against surprise attacks and evasive targets.

Surprise attacks would necessitate planes to be in the air at all times over critical areas, unless it could be ground based or mounted on a blimp of some kind.

Evasive targets.. it'd have to very evasive. Remember the laser fires damn near instantly, and the beam of course travels at the speed of light. There is only a very, very small amount of leading required.




RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 10:56:38 AM , Rating: 2
The "skepticism remains" is just Jason's way of knocking this advance without good reason. If we can hit a missile in boost phase, its just a small step forward to hitting it in its ballistic phase. And once we can do that, we don't need planes loitering near launch areas; we can ground mount the defense system near any area which needs protection.


RE: Well...
By JediJeb on 2/12/2010 12:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
If you mount them on top of some very high mountains that are mostly above the cloud cover, then you could cover most of the country with just a few units. If the focus is good enough to reach near space, then you would be protected from horizon to horizon. There are several mountains above 10k feet like Mauna Kea in Hawaii, several in California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado for the west, North Carolina and Tennessee have a couple that are about 7k feet elevation for east coast coverage, though not a immune to cloud cover as the 10k peaks. You could effectivly put a shield over most of the country just from these locations if you can take out a warhead in the decent phase.


RE: Well...
By knutjb on 2/12/2010 3:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
Look at a picture of the globe. Draw lines from from mountain peaks and see where that gets you. Put a mobile platform up at 35, 40k ft draw lines and see what you can hit. The earlier you can identify, track, target, and hit a missile the greater the number of targets one platform can hit can hit.

BTW you need to destroy the missile before it can drop multiple warheads becoming more targets... The idea is to stop it in the upward trajectory not the far more difficult to deal with downward. You wouldn't want multiple nuke devices or their radioactive debris falling in your backyard.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
"BTW you need to destroy the missile before it can drop multiple warheads "

Why? In a simplistic sense, one target is easier to hit than four...but if those four warheads are much closer than the single missile, that may not be true. Also, the additional time gives you additional shot attempts at each target.

"You wouldn't want multiple nuke devices or their radioactive debris falling in your backyard. "

A nuke warhead with its firing ciruits fused is relately harmless. Worst case scenario is some very minor radiological exposure if the physics package is broached...but that's nothing compared to an actual explosion.


RE: Well...
By knutjb on 2/12/2010 4:26:12 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Why? In a simplistic sense, one target is easier to hit than four...but if those four warheads are much closer than the single missile, that may not be true. Also, the additional time gives you additional shot attempts at each target.


You have NO concept of an ICBM. The missile is fragile, breach the skin, ignite the propellant or cause catastrophic structural failure and the munitions and the DECOYS cannot make it to their target. That is the easiest way of taking down a massive threat. Why shoot at 10-20 active warheads if you can hit 2-3 missiles before the warheads become active? Don't be a moron.

quote:
A nuke warhead with its firing ciruits fused is relately harmless. Worst case scenario is some very minor radiological exposure if the physics package is broached...but that's nothing compared to an actual explosion.

You do not understand the level of radioactivity contained within a nuclear device. A cracked ball of plutonium and uranium can never be minor, especially if exposed to say LA or NY. I want the missile shot down over the senders real estate, not mine. You assume the laser will hit the firing circuits and disable them and all is good. How far is it falling? What happens when it hits? Describing your understanding of nukes is very easy, none.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:49:56 PM , Rating: 3
"That is the easiest way of taking down a massive threat."

Go back and read what you posted, bright boy. You're the one who said we "had" to kill a missile before its warheads separated. It very well may be the easiest method in some (but by no means all) cases. But its certainly no hard and fast requirement.

" A cracked ball of plutonium and uranium can never be minor"

First of all, it would be one or the other, not both. And yes it would most certainly be minor, when compared to an actual detonation. On one hand, you have as many as 1M dead directly, a ring of destruction several kilometers across, plus possibly hundreds of thousands more from fallout. On the other hand, you have a mess to clean up that, as long as you evacuate the immediate area, will kill no one.

Uranium is not very dangerous at all. It's the explosion that generates massive amounts of short-lived daughter nuclides, which decay and re-decay generating vast amounts of radioactivity. Plutonium is somewhat more dangerous, but unless you actually ingest some, you don't have to worry...your skin will block its limited alpha radiation very easily.

Now, tell me again, what is minor and what isn't?

"Don't be a moron"

Where the hell is this coming from? When you can read simple English without utterly miscomprehending it, come back.


RE: Well...
By knutjb on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 5:19:39 PM , Rating: 4
" uranium is very harmful to be around. While you're at it go handle some to prove how safe you claim it is. "

Actually, I've handled both natural uranium and yellowcake on a regular basis. It is NOT "very harmful to be around".

I seriously think IQs have dropping worldwide...or at least education levels. Here's a hint for you. Reactors are heavily shielded because the uranium inside is generating a massive neutron flux. Each neutron captured causes a cascading reaction, forming daughter nuclides, which then decay and decay again.

The level of radiologic activity inside a reactor is many TRILLIONS of times higher than you see from natural uranium. That should be obvious to you from basic conservation of energy principles alone...if it wasn't true, natural uranium would be generating megawatts of heat, just as a reactor does.

Now for the last time, spend at least THREE minutes researching this before you embarrass yourself again. Please.


RE: Well...
By knutjb on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 6:37:34 PM , Rating: 3
Knutjob, there's no shame in being wrong. But when you refuse to admit your mistake and learn from it...now that is something to be ashamed of.

You began this nonsense by claiming that an undetonated warhead would be extraordinarily deadly, due simply to the fissile materials within. That is not so, and all your goal-post moving won't change that.

If a nuke explodes in a downtown city area, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions will die. If a ball of enriched uranium falls in a downtown area, odds are no one whatsoever dies. Worst case scenario is the KE of the impact manages to vaporize a bit of metal, and aomeone manages to breathe in some and winds up with an elevated cancer risk. Comparing that to a detonation is absurd. Period.

Uranium metal is not dangerous to handle. If its enriched, you don't want to sit around it for weeks on end, and you certainly don't want to ingest any. But your vision of the physics package of a nuke being as radioactive as the interior of a nuclear reactor is some Hollywood-fueled fantasy. Now get over it, and move on.

"I certainly wasn't talking about yellow cake. Do you handle the bare metal without protection of any kind?"

Actually you have it in reverse. Handling the metal in solid form (assuming its not HEU, of course) is less risky than powdered yellowcake. Your only worry is accidentally inhaling or ingesting some...and that's easier to do with a powder than a solid.


RE: Well...
By whiskerwill on 2/12/2010 7:01:29 PM , Rating: 2
You're certainly right about uranium not being dangerous Porkie, but there's no need to be an ass about it. Remember most people only learn about radiation from TV shows and movies. Its not their fault they believe what they see.

Anyway, its not as bad as believing hand grenades blow up in big fireballs or gunshots blowing people backwards?. How many times have you seen a movie not perpetrate those myths?


RE: Well...
By knutjb on 2/13/2010 1:54:00 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
odds are no one whatsoever dies.
"ODDS" that implies potential hazard, which is it? Totally safe as you imply or...
quote:
You began this nonsense by claiming that an undetonated warhead would be extraordinarily deadly
Funny I didn't say deadly, you implied it. I said HAZARDOUS, that doesn't imply death. Go back to exposure and intensity.
quote:
Uranium metal is not dangerous to handle.
Define what you wear and tools you use to handle, T-shirt and shorts with bare hands? What?
quote:
Actually you have it in reverse. Handling the metal in solid form (assuming its not HEU, of course) is less risky than powdered yellowcake. Your only worry is accidentally inhaling or ingesting some...and that's easier to do with a powder than a solid.

Lets see, I started talking about a warhead and that would be... A HIGHLY ENRICHED PRODUCT.
quote:
But your vision of the physics package of a nuke being as radioactive as the interior of a nuclear reactor is some Hollywood-fueled fantasy. Now get over it, and move on.
I never expressed a "Hollywood" vision. I expressed a cracked warhead with a highly enriched product. The purer, the better the bang. That could involve shattered material and an inhalation/ingestion and radiological hazard. AND the best way to prevent that POSSIBILITY is to stop the missile first.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 2:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
""ODDS" that implies potential hazard, which is it? Totally safe as you imply "

Can you not understand plain English? I said, and I quote, that the fissile material within an exploded bomb was "relatively harmless". Which one of those words did you not understand?

In case a three-syllable word was too complex, I followed up with a statement of comparitive risks: 1M+ dead for an actual detonation, vs. anwhere from zero to a handful of people with slightly elevated cancer risks.

" I said HAZARDOUS, that doesn't imply death"

You said, "Dude...If uranium is so safe to be around why are reactors so heavily shielded?", implying a similar level of risk to an unshielded reactor. This is fallacious, which I hope you will now admit.


RE: Well...
By knutjb on 2/13/2010 4:16:48 PM , Rating: 1
Your bouncing around is pretty entertaining. You have completely avoided what I said at the beginning with a warhead. A damaged, i.e. damage to the fissile material, would create a potentially hazardous situation. I'm not comparing it to a successful bombing I'm comparing it to shooting the missile down PRIOR to release of its munitions as opposed to the POTENTIAL hazards of a damaged warhead landing in someones backyard.

An inactive, disabled whatever reason (the firing circuits fused from being shot with a ground based laser as you suggested earlier), warhead falling from a high altitude and hitting a hard object and staying intact is very unlikely.

After hitting said hard object and breaking open it is likely that as the material deforms it releases fragments that do posses inhalation/ingestion and radiation hazards. I'm not discussing a static disassembly. No Hollywood disaster flic. Just a high speed collision between a warhead built to be light in weight with a hard, likely very dense, object.

So, why would anyone want to deal with the complexities of that outcome if the missile could be shot down preventing that to begin with?



RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 4:41:45 PM , Rating: 3
"a warhead falling from a high altitude and hitting a hard object and staying intact is very unlikely"

The radioactive core from the RTG onboard the Apollo 13 LEM remained intact, despite reentry from outer space. It's not that unlikely that the physics package of a warhead would remain unbroached.

You're also forgetting that the vast majority of the world (even in and around the US) is unpopulated territory. This explains why hundreds of thousand of meteors strike the earth each year, yet ones which actually injure people are next to unheard of.

You began by saying we "need" to shoot down a missile before the warheads separate. NEED to. That implies a severe risk if we do not do so. This just isn't true.

In a perfect world, I'd prefer shooting down a missle as soon as possible...but the infinitesmal modicum of additional risk from a cold landing on US soil really isn't even worth talking about. The statistical expectation value of the number of fatalities from such an event is much less than one...you'd save more lives putting up an extra road sign somewhere than you would from enforcing such a requirement upon missile defense.


RE: Well...
By xpax on 2/12/2010 12:19:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's what it seemed like to me too -- although I have no idea why anyone would want to knock it.

It is interesting that the Soviets would get pissed off about this. They have so many missiles that we'd need to have an awful lot of these to even have a hope of knocking down a significant percentage of them. And if even just a few get through.. ouch.

In a a way, I guess it's not surprising. The problem is that the Soviets for the longest time have been absolutely convinced the US is planning a first strike on them. I'm not sure why they're so paranoid, but they really and truly are, and have been since the 50s. From what I've read, they still feel this way today -- perhaps more so (due to the theoretical collapse of communism).


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 12:30:00 PM , Rating: 3
" the Soviets for the longest time have been absolutely convinced the US is planning a first strike on them"

It's not that...not anymore, at least. The simple fact is that a large part of Russian prestige derives from their ability to rain nuclear fire down upon whomever, whenever. They don't exactly plan to use it...but having the ability gives them a crucial position in world geopolitique. Losing that ability severely downgrades their prestige, and the amount of influence they can exert elsewhere in the world.

Personally, I find prestige backed up by the implicit threat of killing millions of innocent civilians to be morally repugnant. I'm glad the world has an opportunity to move beyond that now.


RE: Well...
By maven81 on 2/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:50:59 PM , Rating: 3
"Might have something to do with the fact that they have been Invaded thoroughout their history"

How many times by the US?

There isn't a square inch of land in Euope that hasn't been invaded more times than you can count...even if you take off your socks, and use your toes as well. I hardly think thats justification for requiring that no other nation on earth be allowed to defend itself against your nuclear arsenal.


RE: Well...
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 2:22:21 PM , Rating: 1
You do realize that the same can be said about the US right? We have never been attacked by Russia either. So what is the justification for having a massive arsenal?


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 2:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
"So what is the justification for having a massive arsenal?"

The original justification was the USSR's stated intention to control the entire world. You young chaps don't seem to be taught that in school any more, but world domination was an integral plank of Soviet philosphy until the 1970s.

The current justification for our arsenal is even simpler...Russia has one even larger than we do. Personally, I'd love to move beyond that...and missile defense will allow us to do just that.


RE: Well...
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 3:10:52 PM , Rating: 1
"world domination was an integral plank of Soviet philosphy until the 1970s."

I'm still waiting for you to find ONE example of the Soviets saying they want to take over the world. Let alone a reference to that in their party platform. Not vague threats. Not posturing, but an actual "we want to take over the world" Find it or shut up.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 3:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
Rofl, did you honestly not realize world domination was official Soviet policy for many decades? It began within a few years of the October Revolution:

quote:
"First we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia. We will encircle the last bastion of capitalism, the United States of America. We will not even need to fight. It will fall as a ripe fruit into our hands."

- Lenin, 1924.


RE: Well...
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 4:59:18 PM , Rating: 2
Lenin was talking about a worldwide communist revolution, not the soviet army marching across the globe and taking over. And it became obvious to them pretty early on that this revolution was not going to happen, which is why you didn't hear this coming from Stalin, let alone Khrushev.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 9:34:44 PM , Rating: 3
There's a huge difference between calling out for a world communist revolution, and saying that your country, or your army is going to take over the world. The slogan was proletariat of the world unite remember? That's not to say that they weren't expansionist as witnessed by the attempt to grab territory from Finland, the expansion into the baltic states, parts of Romania and so on. But they certainly weren't stupid enough to think they could take over the entire world. Certainly not in a Hitleresque 3rd reich sort of way. There weren't going to be any soviet troops landing in Colorado, no matter how much you insist.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 11:22:39 PM , Rating: 1
"There's a huge difference between calling out for a world communist revolution, and saying that your country, or your army is going to take over the world."

But numerous Soviet leaders and high party members said just that, as I've already demonstrated. You still don't understand. A basic tenet of their idealological philosophy was that the Soviet System-- as titular head of world communism -- was in a state of perpetual war with capitalism. It was taught to everyone in the country, from small children upward, and their expansionism was a simple outgrowth of that philosophy. It was considered their moral duty to spread communism throughout the world, by any and all means necessary. And it wasn't until Brezhnev in the 1970s that a Soviet ruler finally said that Communism and Capitalism could coexist without war.


RE: Well...
By koss on 2/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 3:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
" it is more likely a nuke is transported and detonated by a bunch of local terrorists [than] being utilised for the destruction of a nuclear missle."

How many nuclear warheads are mounted on missiles currently? About 40,000. How many are in the hands of terrorists? Zero? One?

How many ways do we have to intercept a nuke hand-carried to a location? Several. Barring missile defense, how many ways do we have to stop an ICBM? Zero.

Finally, your point is no more than a variant of the logical fallacy known as the "false dilemma". We don't have to choose between defending ourselves from missile attacks vs. terrorist attack. We can do both.

Even if your statement is true that it's "more likely" for a bomb to be hand-carried to a location -- so what? It's rather like saying that, if your house is more likely to be damaged by flood than fire, that you shouldn't bother buying fire insurance? Come again?


RE: Well...
By koss on 2/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By ekv on 2/13/2010 4:44:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's a huge difference between calling out for a world communist revolution

Do you realize what you're saying? Try substituting "communist revolution" with Jihad.

Certainly Muslims aren't stupid enough to think they can take over the entire world.... Of course, what's to stop them? How many sanctions against Iran, and still, they continue.

Ok, that's a huge lurch off topic. Though didn't Iran recently launch mice into orbit?


RE: Well...
By yomamafor1 on 2/12/2010 12:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
Actually its not a small step. During the boosting stage, the missile is traveling at 1 Mach at best. It will speed up to 23 Mach during the ballistic stage, and it is definitely no small feat to track a target moving at 23 Mach. This is exactly the reason why missile based anti-missile technology will be replaced, because hitting a missile traveling at 23 Mach with a missile that's only capable of 5 Mach is like hitting a bullet with an arrow.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:04:05 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it IS a small step, as we are already hitting missiles post-boost phase. And we're not doing it with a beam that moves at the speed of light, but with an EKV warhead, a significantly harder feat.

The only reasons this airborne laser can't hit a missile post-boost phase now is:

a) slew rates on the current telescope aiming system too low
b) no links to ground-based high-resolution X-band radar.

Both easily solvable issues. In fact, they'd already be solved today except the military is positioning this system for use against theater missiles rather than long-range ICBMs, primarily for political purposes.

"if you have coin based charging station in every parking space, then i would buy this in a heart beat"

You do realize we've been doing just for ten years now?

http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/rtnwcm/groups...


RE: Well...
By Amiga500 on 2/12/2010 1:22:01 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
TextActually, it IS a small step, as we are already hitting missiles post-boost phase. And we're not doing it with a beam that moves at the speed of light, but with an EKV warhead, a significantly harder feat.


Fanciful... at best.

I think they've had some success with the ABM kill vehicle, but it is against lame duck targets.

I think I did a quick run of the maths here before to demonstrate the impact of a degree change in trajectory of the ICBM - simply put, the ABM ends up in a far worse state than those F-15 pilots that bragged they could intercept a blackbird. ;-)


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 1:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
"I think they've had some success with the ABM kill vehicle, but it is against lame duck targets."

Please stop repeating FUD arguments. MDI has tested against actual ballistic missiles at Mach 20+, deploying decoy warheads and other countermeasures.

You fruitcakes have been trying for 25 years to say missile interception is "impossible". Now that its happening on a regular basis, don't you think its time to abandon the fraud?


RE: Well...
By Amiga500 on 2/12/2010 2:19:45 PM , Rating: 1
Lame duck = straight line.

Go do the maths yourself on a Mach 30 target moving its course by just 1 degree per minute.

This "fruitcake" happens to be an aero engineer who is well aware of the hard numbers which make your fanciful illusions collapse like a deck of cards when confronted with cold hard reality.


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 3:09:34 PM , Rating: 3
"Go do the maths yourself on a Mach 30 target moving its course by just 1 degree per minute"

a) A missile can maneuver very little without missing its target entirely. If an incoming missile has to deviate by several degrees to avoid an intercept, its not going to get back on target again.

b) What matters is the relative maneuverability of the missile versus interceptor. An interceptor can always be more manueverable, as it doesn't have to carry a warhead or travel extended distances. It can be therefore designed around a single criteria only.

c) Your entire point is moot, as we're ALREADY intercepting missiles on a regular basis. So claiming that you've "mathematically proven it won't work" is like the mathematical calculation proving that bumblebees can't fly.


RE: Well...
By ekv on 2/13/2010 5:18:16 AM , Rating: 2
a) unless it is Putin's hypersonic maneuverable reentry vehicle -- though granted that is mythical (and ekv is real 8)

b) agreed.

http://russianforces.org/blog/2006/01/hypersonic_m...

c) I believe the only thing that could stop EKV -- certainly not foreign powers or any technological challenge (though I don't care to underestimate either) -- would be budgetary. Hmm, it does appear the fy2010 budget de-funds the project, unless anybody knows otherwise?


RE: Well...
By koss on 2/13/2010 3:33:46 PM , Rating: 1
Are any of you doing some maths here...hahahahah
Let me try to help a bit:
rocket speed @ 23(x) MACH speed = 23(x) MACH speed flying trajectory = (23(x) MACH x T x circular motion turn path)x (at least factor of 2) of divertion from projected flying route to target and therefore increases the distance GREATLY.
if that seems like a 'passable' obstacle to you, then you are truly working at least at NASA and I have no quarrel on this topic, just one question:
How is this heavy fuel loaded, 23+ MACH(7900+ m/s) cruising missle going to escape a laser beam with V ~ 600,003,000 m/s(7594 TIMES FASTER)is beyond me. But then again running inmates with V=7-15km/h are escaping pirsuing helicopters@300km/h ....lol. ;)


RE: Well...
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 3:39:42 PM , Rating: 2
You're off by about 100% on your speed of light figure. Also, you missed what we were talking about...interception of a missile by an EKV (e.g. ANOTHER missile). Interception via directed-energy weapon is a whole different ballgame, agreed.


RE: Well...
By koss on 2/13/2010 6:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
Excuse me for the laser speed, found it on google->yahoo answers of sth...
But in defence my comparison was with a mere difference of ~30 times...hahahhaha
On the second point EKV-forget about it, are we not talking lasers here...cummon...look at the title?
Besides - EKV is a joke - we all know it... They know it...Everyone knows it! ;)


Why are they using chemicals for power?
By corduroygt on 2/12/2010 11:30:06 AM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't a small nuclear reactor charging a giant capacitor work better?




RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 11:36:05 AM , Rating: 2
Because they're trying to produce light, not electricity. A chemical laser emits photons when its atoms drop to a lower energy state.

Interestingly enough, this system uses a chemical iodine laser. While not frozen, it's very similar to the airborne laser described in the movie "Real Genius" a quarter of a century ago.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By corduroygt on 2/12/2010 11:40:33 AM , Rating: 2
But the article says it uses chemicals for power. Where does the energy that excites the atoms in the chemicals to a higher energy state come from?


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 11:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
From the potential energy latent in the compounds themselves...the same place the energy in gunpowder or TNT comes from.

Technically, we add the energy to those compounds when we produce them...producing hydrogen peroxide and molecular iodine are highly endothermic reactions.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By corduroygt on 2/12/2010 3:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh I get it, you're not using the chemical reaction to get energy to power a laser, you're using it to get the photons.
Still, basic high school physics state that nuclear reactions are much more powerful than chemical ones, so what is holding back solid state lasers, optics technology?


By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
SDI did investigate nuclear-burst pumped X-ray lasers (they were, in fact, the original design goal of the system). However, the modern antithesis to any and all things nuclear squelched that line of research.

Regarding solid-state lasers, the heart of each lies a solid block of matter (hence the name). Heat is the real killer for high-powered SSLs...we simply can't pump off the waste heat fast enough. SSLs are approaching the 100-kw range now, but we have chemical lasers more than ten times as powerful.


By xpax on 2/12/2010 12:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
Great movie.


By mcnabney on 2/12/2010 11:44:05 AM , Rating: 2
It is a chemical laser that only operates when appropriate chemicals are injected. It isn't some super-duper flashlight that only requires a power source.


By Redwin on 2/12/2010 11:54:45 AM , Rating: 3
If it was a solid state laser, this would be true. Unfortunately, solid state lasers aren't generally powerful enough yet to really use as a weapon, although I believe the Navy is developing one to put on warships with nuclear reactors to power them.

Chemical Laser = Little electricity needed, able to ramp up to higher power easier, needs toxic chemicals to operate, shots limited by available chemicals

Solid State Laser = Not as easy to ramp up to megawatt-class, but is smaller, needs only electricity to operate, and number of shots is only limited by available power.

Eventually, I expect most "laser weapons" will be solid state once the tech is there, but building chem lasers to prove the feasibility of a laser weapon is probably a needed first step.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By Jedi2155 on 2/12/2010 12:35:48 PM , Rating: 2
The chemical laser produces light energy at a very specific wavelength which is necessary to avoid attenuation in the atmosphere thus preserving range. Not only that, but nuclear reactors are heavy and require lots of shielding and probably don't provide enough power for the requirements of the mission.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 12:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, an iodine laser produces near infrared, which is an extremely poor wavelength in terms of atmospheric attenuation. We'd much rather have a laser operating at shorter wavelengths...but getting the required power outputs in those ranges is much harder.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 2:28:09 PM , Rating: 2
You got that backwards professor. Infrared is LESS effected by the atmosphere. Meanwhile shorter wavelengths (like blue) get scattered by the atmosphere, hence the reason the sky is blue.

If you don't even know why the sky is blue I suggest you take a break and study physics 101. Should I throw in some crap about how your parents and your teachers failed you?


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 3:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
"You got that backwards professor. Infrared is LESS effected by the atmosphere..."

Lol, you DO love embarrassing yourself, don't you? Rayleigh scattering (the reason for our blue sky) is *not* the same thing as direct absorption. The optical thickness of the atmosphere varies tremendously and in a complex fashion by wavelength.

I posted a handy graph of the atmosphere's absorption spectrum at the link below. Notice that visible light is transmitted very clearly (the entire reason that's what our eyes evolved to see with), whereas infrared and ultraviolet are almost totally absorbed? That's also the entire reason the greenhouse effect works...if infrared passed easily through our atmosphere, it couldn't be trapped by GHGs.

http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/9742/spectra.pn...

(BTW, its not only your science at fault here. The proper word is "affected", not "effected")


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 4:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
"Rayleigh scattering (the reason for our blue sky) is *not* the same thing as direct absorption. The optical thickness of the atmosphere varies tremendously and in a complex fashion by wavelength."

Complex beyond your comprehension apparently. If you're in a hole stop digging!
First of all the optical thickness changes with altitude, and is different for radiation coming from space, and radiation going into space. Second because specific wavelengths are effected differently, there are windows for infrared and even radio waves obviously.
The greenhouse effect works because the atmosphere blocks far infrared, not near infrared, but the advantages of Infrared is that it is less effected by atmospheric convection currents, what astronomers call "seeing". The atmosphere is much more "stable" in these longer wavelengths, then in shorter wavelengths where the light constantly gets refracted by the motion of the atmosphere.

Had you knew anything about anything, and did frequent observations and imaging with a telescope like I have you would know that. And let's not forget that some infrared wavelengths are good at penetrating some types of cloud cover. (this is most effectively shown by Cassini's imagine of Titan for example which is completely opaque in optical wavelenghts).

All of these are very desirable characteristics for a laser.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By porkpie on 2/12/2010 4:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
" If you're in a hole stop digging!"

You should your own advice. Did you even look at the graph I posted? Glance at 1315 nanometers, the wavelength of an oxygen-iodine lassr. Now tell me what you see.
Near infrared is absorbed much more readily by the atmosphere than visible light, (excluding the near-UV band).

" let's not forget that some infrared wavelengths are good at penetrating some types of cloud cover"

Lol, you've forgotten that Titan's clouds are made of methane, not water vapour. Different compound; different absorption spectra.


RE: Why are they using chemicals for power?
By maven81 on 2/12/2010 9:44:04 PM , Rating: 1
"Lol, you've forgotten that Titan's clouds are made of methane, not water vapour. Different compound; different absorption spectra."

The point wasn't that Titan and Earth are the same. It was that using specific wavelengths allows you to take advantage of "windows" in the atmosphere, and to penetrate regions of the atmosphere that are opaque to other wavelengths.
But keep sticking to your absorption is the only thing that matters spiel.


By porkpie on 2/13/2010 11:31:05 AM , Rating: 2
Err, the entire reason they're called windows is because absorption is less at that wavelength than immediately on either side. The link I posted yesterday clearly explains absorption windows. A window also is a local wavelength optimization, not global. A COIL laser's wavelength of ~1315 nm, for instance, takes advantage of a window that allows it less absorption than the near-infrared wavelengths on either side...but is still higher than the visible wavelengths further beyond. The reason we don't build chemical lasers at those shorter wavelengths is because of the difficulty in getting ultra-high power outputs at those ranges.

In any case, I'm glad you're now finally admitting that infrared isn't "effected [sic] less by the atmosphere".


By jstall on 2/15/2010 2:58:37 AM , Rating: 1

Still arguing with DT's 12yo expert on everything I see....


But wait....
By Breathless on 2/12/2010 10:33:07 AM , Rating: 3
But what happens when the enemy creates "green" missiles that don't "plume exhaust"? What would we do Mick? What would we do....




RE: But wait....
By therealnickdanger on 2/12/2010 10:47:13 AM , Rating: 3
LOL @ "green weapons". I suppose it's only a matter of time...


RE: But wait....
By HrilL on 2/12/2010 10:58:01 AM , Rating: 2
You'd just have to use a different tracking system. Aegis has been proven to be able to track cold targets like the Spy satellite the Navy took out a while ago. So I think we're going to be fine until they can create a radar evading missile with no heat signature.


RE: But wait....
By ksherman on 2/12/2010 11:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
The Aegis Cruisers are freaking cool pieces of machinery.


RE: But wait....
By JediJeb on 2/12/2010 11:37:07 AM , Rating: 2
They already did, it's called a trebuchet. If some amateur can make one that will throw a pumpkin a mile, imagine what the Russian military would be able to build ;)


RE: But wait....
By lightfoot on 2/12/2010 12:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
But really, what's the point in being able to throw a pumpkin 10 or even 100 miles? Everyone knows that the Russian military is putting its full technological might behind potato cannons.


RE: But wait....
By corduroygt on 2/12/2010 5:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
Russian military doesn't even need to fire a single shot, since we're already on the road to communism all by ourselves...


Airborn Laser
By Ground Hawk on 2/12/2010 6:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Everybody forget about Electrical Magnet Impulse. Shoot off a several missiles 30 miles up and you will take out all the electronics for thousands of square miles…………… You really can’t protect your electronics from that and that is what all this stuff is made of……..of figure.




RE: Airborn Laser
By FoundationII on 2/13/2010 8:30:42 AM , Rating: 2
So you need to shoot a missile past the laser to disable the laser, and disable all your own electronics in the process?
I think just shooting the Boeing down is more feasible.


RE: Airborn Laser
By porkpie on 2/13/2010 11:33:58 AM , Rating: 2
I think you mean EMP: electromagnetic impulse. And you can protect electronics from it rather easily, with faraday cage shielding. Furthermore, if an enemy wants to shoot off a nuke "straight up", he's going to damage his own infrastructure far more than ours.


RE: Airborn Laser
By jstall on 2/16/2010 12:06:58 AM , Rating: 1

oh my.... the Bullshit detector goes wild again....


Cmon...
By McGixxer on 2/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: Cmon...
By lightfoot on 2/12/2010 12:59:57 PM , Rating: 2
Given the military budget in Russia, I suspect that basic maintenance is a far greater threat to their nuclear arsenal than any missile defense system we could create. Far more of their missiles will simply fail to launch than we could ever hope to shoot down.


RE: Cmon...
By HotFoot on 2/12/2010 2:06:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not willing to bet my life on that.

I think for the foreseeable future missile defence + MAD will be working together. I don't see dropping MAD for a long while.


RE: Cmon...
By jmanbro on 2/12/2010 2:57:25 PM , Rating: 2
Also remember these are boost phase weapons. They aren't designed to hit wareheads on their desent phase.


Grammar
By ChrisHF on 2/12/2010 11:20:00 AM , Rating: 2
You should have said:

The missile EXPERIENCED "critical structural failure".




RE: Grammar
By Jedi2155 on 2/12/2010 12:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
Plus the weapon is not a missile.

quote:
Firing the weapon is somewhat expensive, requiring special chemicals to power the laser


Missed hits
By XZerg on 2/12/2010 12:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that every time i read about this I don't see any mentions of what if the laser misses or go through the object?




RE: Missed hits
By threepac3 on 2/12/2010 2:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yea what if misses and hits my house? Will my house fill with popcorn?


At the risk of asking the obvious...
By karkas on 2/12/2010 5:29:43 PM , Rating: 2
Couldn't a laser be easily defeated by painting the target with reflective paint?




By porkpie on 2/12/2010 5:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
Reflective (and ablative) coatings are one of the more effective contermeasures. They're not foolproof though. Even a very shiny paint still absorbs a couple percent of the incident light (possibly much more, depending on wavelength), and 2% of a 2MW beam is still 40,000 watts....enough to accomplish substantial heating when focused on a small area.


747?
By 457R4LDR34DKN07 on 2/13/2010 3:10:33 PM , Rating: 2
this is good but how will it work against supersonic missles like the ramjet x-51?




RE: 747?
By lightfoot on 2/16/2010 6:33:53 PM , Rating: 2
Light travels roughly 21 million times faster than sound, so basically the difference between any target, either stationary or hypersonic, is negligible. Relative target velocity is just another input parameter for the targeting computer.


Facts
By ChrisHF on 2/12/2010 11:20:55 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Firing the missile is somewhat expensive...


Should have been:

Firing the laser is somewhat expensive...




sweet
By FITCamaro on 2/12/2010 11:22:30 AM , Rating: 3
Sharks with freakin lasers on their heads is becoming closer to reality.

But in all seriousness, I look forward to when America and its troops worldwide sit behind a curtain of these and don't have to worry about missiles being fired at us.




Careful with that thing
By unclesharkey on 2/12/2010 10:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
You'll shoot your eye out, kid. ...




Am I missing something?
By KingConker on 2/12/2010 12:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
Look - I can see in practice an airborne laser works. It's closer to the missile target and has an easier route to target.

You'd need some sort of airborne array surely to stand a chance of hitting several hundred ICBM's in time.

Ground based lasers - it's kinda a last chance saloon right?

Personally I'm all in favor of neutron ICBMs - the smart mans's tactical weapon.




Trojans Anyone?
By Spookster on 2/12/2010 12:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
Kind of looks like a flying condom.




What the frak?!?!
By CrazyBernie on 2/12/2010 5:50:24 PM , Rating: 2
I just read through all of this crap, and didn't see a single Missle Command reference. WTF is wrong with you people?!?! 0_o




Real Genius
By drando on 2/12/2010 9:57:34 PM , Rating: 2
How could you not have a picture from Val Kilmer's classic movie Real Genius for the main headline picture?!?




Someone call Laslo!
By dayanth on 2/18/2010 7:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm going to use it to make popcorn in my house so it'll be ready when the plane lands. I wonder if there's a guy named Mitch who worked on the project?




PLease tell me
By MrPoletski on 2/19/2010 4:30:57 AM , Rating: 2
The planes flying these lasers around will be called 'Sharks'




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