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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: 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.


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