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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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Bad caption
By Biodude on 3/23/2009 4:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
The caption for the first picture says:
A Northrop Grumman engineer tinkers with the deadly 105.5 kw solid-state laser.
This is not correct. The caption on the CNet page clearly states that the picture is
A Northrop a solid-state laser
(my emphasis)
It's more than likely a simple classroom grade HeNe laser for a pretty picture, based on it's color. There is virtually no way that the JHPSSL is using a high wavelength laser (on the order of 630nm like a HeNe) as it's really hard to get high power from those wavelengths. It would be dramatically simpler to use a lower wavelength beam, possibly even in the ultraviolet range.
After some digging I can't find the actual wavelength though. Anyone?

RE: Bad caption
By whiskerwill on 3/23/2009 4:44:59 PM , Rating: 2
...based on it's color
that "color" is painted on. It's a fake picture. You can't photograph a laser beam like that, even if it is in the visible range.

By the way, the real beam is about 1000 nm, in the infrared.

RE: Bad caption
By Biodude on 3/25/2009 8:57:53 AM , Rating: 2
You can't photograph a laser beam like that
Of course you can. Just suspend some fine dust in the air, it works like a charm. I used to do it all the time for promo pics of my instrumentation.

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