Print 84 comment(s) - last by knutjb.. on Jul 24 at 3:52 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By dj LiTh on 7/21/2010 5:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
What would be the effect at shooting this thing at a mirror? Would it bounce off, or would it burnt thru it? If it bounces off, then how long will it take someone to figureng out to put a thin reflective strip on a UAV or tank or ship or whatever. Also what about those invisibility things that bend light around it... I seriously dont know, anyone have the answer?

RE: Mirrors?
By afkrotch on 7/21/2010 9:43:14 PM , Rating: 2
It'll burn through. A perfect mirror will absorb absolutely zero light, but there's no such thing. They absorb a small amount of the light and generate heat. Eventually it'll get hotter and you'll burn through.

A cheap mirror in your bathroom is as good at stopping a high powered laser as a t-shirt is at stopping a bullet.

Also, what type of laser are you trying to stop. A thin relective strip isn't doing much against a CO² laser. Unless you plan on strapping some thick shiny gold mirrors on your UAV or tank or diamond lenses to bend the light away.

All in all, the protection will just weigh too much on top of the protection for standard projectile weapons.

RE: Mirrors?
By Amiga500 on 7/22/2010 4:12:12 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Mirrors?
By PrinceGaz on 7/22/2010 7:23:49 AM , Rating: 2
How about a highly reflective ("military grade" if you like) mirror with a highly thermally conductive layer underneath to spread all energy not reflected by the mirror over a quite large area?

We're all familiar here with getting rid of large amounts of heat from small areas. Now I know that 200W from an overclocked CPU is quite different from perhaps 5KW which may be absorbed by the mirror (assuming the mirror is 95% efficient and is hit by a 100KW beam), but 5KW or more is certainly very manageable with what might be called "thermal armour". Hell even the full 100KW without any sort of mirror could be managed with a cooling system like a typical car engine has.

These energy weapons have the major problem of
a) inefficiency in beam generation
b) ability for the target to reflect/scatter/dissipate and spread the absorbed energy if designed with that in mind

Currently, energy weapons are not considered a threat so no measures are taken to protect against them. Rather like medieval villagers throwing stones against an unarmoured intruder with a sword. Now give the intruder decent armour and all the stones bounce off it with no real effect, just like these energy weapons will when the target has been protected with "thermal armour"

RE: Mirrors?
By Danish1 on 7/22/2010 8:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yes that's for sure, once energy weapons are viable then defense measures against them will become a priority and the age old arms race will pick up in that field as well.

RE: Mirrors?
By geekman1024 on 7/21/2010 11:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
Laser is concentrated light. You can stand under the sun for hours, but how long can you withstand a concentrated light focused by a magnifying glass?

RE: Mirrors?
By EJ257 on 7/22/2010 9:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
If there is any form of countermeasure I bet it would be something along the lines of the space shuttle's heat shield tiles. With an ablative armor like that it would be able to shed the heat as it flies.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

Most Popular Articles5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
No More Turtlenecks - Try Snakables
September 19, 2016, 7:44 AM
ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children: Problem or Paranoia?
September 19, 2016, 5:30 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
Automaker Porsche may expand range of Panamera Coupe design.
September 18, 2016, 11:00 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki