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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 TimberJon on 7/22/2010 11:39:30 AM , Rating: 2
Great post Nafhan, yet a min of 10 years is still a bit too soon. You hit the problem on the head tho, power capacity.

Nobody seems to get that you cant slap a big alternator or other generator on a tank and produce laser-grade power. The key here is a fusion power plant shrunk down to a commercialized size for use in a tank, helicopter, truck, etc..

We need the ITER complete before the real benchmarking can begin. Then we will have the opportunity to ramp up the power and increase the excess that can be shunted off to power other systems. ITER will be huge. It has to be proven and well understood before miniaturized versions can even be conceptualized. When they get down in size, THEN they might get fitted into a tank, or a bipedal walker at that point..

Tracks or wheels... or two legs. The tank that holds such a powerplant would need to be larger than our 75-80 tonners, but might also be a tad faster utilizing electric motors at the drive wheels. With enough power to work with.. the motors could be electric for wheels, tracks, rotors, lasers, and even servos and artificial musculature for things like legs.

We aren't there yet. We need a mobile source of high energy output. ITER supposedly won't be powered up until 2021 or so. I expect some power breakthroughs to happen within 5 years after first startup. For the time being.. where's the outlet?


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