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Raytheon's test of its laser weapons tracking system was a resounding success, scoring 4 UAV kills.  (Source: Raytheon)

Raytheon has released video of the test.  (Source: Raytheon)

The new laser version of Raytheon's Phalanx tracking system could be used to counter UAVs from hostile nations such as Iran (U.S. armed "Reaper" UAV pictured).  (Source: The Real Revo)
Company shows off video of lasers shooting down a drone

Even as the Northrop Grumman tests out its new 100 KW solid state laser cannon as part of a $98M USD Maritime Laser Demonstration program with the U.S. Navy to defend against ships, Raytheon is offering a new guidance system that may be capable of aiming laser batteries against airborne targets.

In May, the U.S. Navy coupled six solid-state lasers with an output of 32 kilowatts (the Navy's Laser Weapon System, LaWS) to Raytheon's Phalanx Close-In Weapon System sensors.  The result was successful kills of four unmanned aerial vehicles.

Raytheon is showing grainy black and white video of test for the first time at the U.K.'sFarnborough International Air Show 2010.

The tests were conducted near the Navy's weapons and training facility on San Nicolas Island in California's Santa Barbara Channel.  Phalanx used radio-frequency (radar) sensors and electro-optical tracking to direct the laser's aim on targets.

The results were impressive and easily surpassed Raytheon's 2006 destruction of a static mortar shell, and 2008 destruction of an incoming (in motion) mortar shell over land.  Still, Mike Booen, vice president of Raytheon's Advanced Security and Directed Energy Systems product line insists that the successful tests are only the start and that the full system will not be finalized until 2016, at the earliest.

Interestingly, the Phalanx system is nothing new.  It has typically been coupled, though with traditional munition based weapons, such as the 20-mm Gatling gun.  The laser-equipped system would likely more than double the range of the traditional Gatling gun.

The laser anti-aircraft batteries could be useful to counter hostile nations like Iran that have reportedly developed UAV capabilities.  Coupled with the Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) cannons, they could offer an unprecedented warship.  States Northrop spokesman Bob Bishop, "The MLD system we are under contract to build for [the U.S. Office of Naval Research] will be scalable to a variety of power levels.  That means that laser power can be added—or subtracted—to meet the level of response necessary to address the threat, all within the same modular laser weapon system."

The MLD program will complete its tests by the end of year.  The tests will be performed at 15 KW -- a mere fraction of the laser's full power.  If all goes well, Northrop Grumman may be able to test shots at higher power levels, afterwards.

Both the U.S. Army and the Air Force are also currently evaluating and testing laser weapons.

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RE: Paladin Tanks
By Amiga500 on 7/21/2010 1:48:44 PM , Rating: 2
100 kw is 135 bhp...

The M1A3 Abrams tank is slated to produce over 1500 bhp at the shaft.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By nafhan on 7/21/2010 2:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the M1 is optimized for generating electrical energy, which is the same problem they've encountered attempting to outfit modern computer systems (and likely lasers) on older Navy ships.
Plus getting the rotational energy into a 100kw laser beam is non-trivial, and the laser itself is "a unit about the size of a couple garbage dumpsters stacked together" - making size an issue.
So, even if something the size of the M1 could do it, it would probably make more sense to have a purpose built vehicle.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By dgingeri on 7/21/2010 2:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
The M1 drive system is similar to a diesel train: engine runs a generator, generator runs electric motors for the wheels. So, in essence, the M1 is already putting all its power into electricity. So it should be easy to get a laser on an M1.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By gamerk2 on 7/21/2010 3:06:06 PM , Rating: 2
I argue its not a power problem; computing the angle the actually aim said lazer is not an easy task, nor is keeping the lazer on a target long enough to cause damage. To me, computing is a bigger factor then power is.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By Amiga500 on 7/21/2010 4:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
You joking right?

How is tracking a target with an instantaneous response harder than tracking a target then calculating the time delay for a missile to arrive there?

You know how AESA radar works (particularly in track & jam modes)? It already does the tracking and aiming of EM waves.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By deputc26 on 7/21/2010 3:43:17 PM , Rating: 4
I believe 100Kw is the power present in the beam, which is only ~2% efficient. So multiply that by 50.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By Amiga500 on 7/22/2010 4:10:48 AM , Rating: 2
No no, current SSLs have efficiencies of around 10%....

So multiply by 10. :-)

And watch that efficiency factor rise continuously over the next few years.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By bh192012 on 7/22/2010 6:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
Next, figure out what your going to do with the other 90% of that energy that is now heating your tank up.

RE: Paladin Tanks
By moenkopi on 7/22/2010 5:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
errr THAT IS 100KW infrared light output from a solid state laser! WHO KNOWS WHAT THE POWER INPUT IS! More than likely, it 1000times more than that!

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