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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 MrPoletski on 3/23/2009 1:09:02 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
You mean besides the widespread use of flamethrowers in WW2, or chemical weapon burns in WWI ?


Or the white phosphor grenades used in vietnam... or the white phosphor shells dropped on Gaza (cough) sold to Isreal by the US;)

quote:
Personally, I'll bet that being killed by a laser is a lot less painful than getting shot in the gut and taking a few hours to die.


A 'laser wound' will be very different from a bullet wound.

Instead of carving a hole through the body (and the bullet might fragment and ricochet inside you too) which, with enough bullet power, will destroy adjacent tissue too.. You have a direct straight line burn-through. That laser will incinerate everything in its path, but not much outside it's path.

On top of that, the laser weapon will likely cauterise the wound enough for there to be no bleeding.

So a laser shot that burns a hole through your leg would likely incinerate the bone it hits too, leaving a 3cm wide hole right through your leg. probably wont bleed much though. Get an assault rifle bullet through the leg and you'll likely blow the limb off and bleed to death if you don't get assistance.

Get shot in the gut by either weapon though and my money is on the assault rifle victim surviving over the laser weapon. Sure that bullet will mince your intestines, but that can be sewn back together, when you're missing a massive chunk of them though, that's difficult. not to mention that an assault rifle bullet might merely deflect off your spine, the laser would burn through it like anything else.


RE: We're gonna need bigger sharks...
By Jimbo1234 on 3/23/2009 2:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
And since the laser can be operated continuously for a few minutes, it's going to cut a continous path when moved, essentially slicing the victim in 1/2 or making a whatever is diameter hole. I'd say that's a more effective way to eliminate a threat than turning them into swiss cheese.


By MrPoletski on 3/25/2009 6:44:10 AM , Rating: 2
What's the biggest threat to a standing army?

Simultaneously slicing off all their legs in a big windscreen-wiper of death maneuver....


RE: We're gonna need bigger sharks...
By Ammohunt on 3/23/2009 2:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
I believe they would use the laser to draw lines such as on an armored collumn against personnel i would think it would be the same. So rather then a burn hole you would mostly like be sliced in twain or thrain.


RE: We're gonna need bigger sharks...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/24/2009 10:13:53 AM , Rating: 2
You guys have it all wrong.

Our bodies are 80% water or something aren't they ? If you were ever hit by a laser of this power, you would simply burst into flames or explode from the insane temperature differences.


By AssBall on 3/24/2009 4:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
Plus it will sublimate bone on contact, if not turn it into plasma. You don't just have a hole in you, you have high energy plasma... not good.


By MrPoletski on 3/30/2009 9:42:42 AM , Rating: 2
the rate at which the target is heated may cause explosive style expansion, but I think damage from that would be insignificant compared to the cutting of the laser.


RE: We're gonna need bigger sharks...
By besya on 3/24/2009 12:25:43 PM , Rating: 2
A few questions:

You keep on saying assault rifle, why? How is it different from any rifle? With the power required to run such a laser why would any military want to use it directly against individual soldiers, some might get hit by accident, but that's about it. Comparing a rifle to a laser of this power seems wrong. This laser should be compared to a rocket strike, mortar fire or something in that category, at least from a deployment point of view.


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