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A Northrop Grumman engineer tinkers with the deadly 105.5 kw solid-state laser. Northrop Grumman recently announced it had created the world's first 100+ kw solid state laser, raising hopes of laser warfare.  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

The 105.5 kw laser reaches its peak power in 0.6 seconds. It consists of eight lasers chained together to form a super laser. All of these components are contained in Northrop's laser weapon system demonstrator, seen here.  (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman passes an important milestone, as laser weapons near deployment

Science fiction fans and generals alike have long fantasized about what it'd be like to have a laser weapon at their command.  Now at last such dreams are nearing reality.  After years of steady milestone progress, military contractor Northrop Grumman has reached a significant mark -- the first 100 kW steady-state laser

The laser is part of the Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser Phase 3 Program, which combines 8 lasers in chain fashion to create a "superlaser" of sorts.  Each laser can deliver up to 15.3 kW individually and is about the size of a large briefcase.  Together they form a unit about the size of a couple garbage dumpsters stacked together, which can deliver a peak beam of 105.5 kW.  The device has operated continuously for 5 minutes, a major landmark in integrity.

The beam quality is an impressive 3.0 or better, and full power is reached in 0.6 seconds.

At 100 kW, the laser is capable of delivering a military-ready deadly beam.  The unit could see deployment aboard next-generation battleships and cruisers or aboard large aircraft.  States a company release, "In fact, many militarily useful effects can be achieved by laser weapons of 25 kW or 50 kW, provided this energy is transmitted with good beam quality, as our system does."

However, the relatively large weight and high power requirements remain obstacles to deploying the lethal laser.

Northrop Grumman is not satisfied with the significant breakthrough.  They want to continue to shrink the device so that one day it might be portable on the battlefield.  Dan Wildt, vice president of Northrop's directed energy systems program, adds, "It is still a little heavy and a little big."

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RE: We're gonna need bigger sharks...
By abraxas1 on 3/23/2009 10:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking some kind of point defense system. Purely a defensive system with rail guns for offensive purposes on ships.

Get it small enough and you can place it all planes or drones for defense rather then using the old flare and chaff solutions.

RE: We're gonna need bigger sharks...
By Calin on 3/23/2009 11:09:12 AM , Rating: 2
You can have a reflector on a drone, and use the ship-mounted system to hit targets that aren't in your field of view, or on reverse slopes, or anywhere you'd like.
There are a lot of possibilities

By otispunkmeyer on 3/23/2009 11:45:23 AM , Rating: 2
i like it.... need some pretty expensive mirrors though, the energy density in the beam would probably be easily enough to machine right through them.

By austinag on 3/23/2009 11:46:42 AM , Rating: 2
True, but that better be one clean frikin reflector...

By Spectator on 3/23/2009 3:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
Dont forget All that Space junk. Need to clear that up also :P

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