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Navy laser program moves ahead
Laser program is under review

Lasers hold a great deal of promise for the battlefield – they are able to strike at the speed of light giving a better chance of hitting a fast moving target on short notice on the battlefield.

The U.S. Navy has been working on a laser system that will eventually be mounted on ships to replace the rapid firing cannons that are designed to shoot down missiles and other threats at close range. A laser system to replace the rapid-fire guns has been in development by the Navy since the 1980's reports, and the laser system has hit a new milestone.

The goal of the Navy missile program is to create a laser with one megawatt of power. Last month, the research teams working on the project at the Los Alamos National Lab demonstrated that they could create lasers with the power needed for the Navy. A preliminary review of the program began last week and is being conducted by the Office of Naval Research.

Dinh Nguyen, senior project leader for the Free Electron Laser program said, "Until now, we didn't have the evidence to support our models."

The research team used a new injector design to shoot electrons through a series of magnetic fields and was able to generate the power needed for a viable weapon. The laser program is called the free-electron laser of FEL.

Office of Naval Research program manager Quentin Saulter said, "The FEL is expected to provide future U.S. Naval forces with a near-instantaneous laser ship defense in any maritime environment throughout the world."

The laser began as a 14-kilowatt prototype, and the research team then moved on to producing a 100-kilowatt laser. The test with the new injector has put the research team 9-months ahead of its 2011 testing schedule.

The U.S. Air force is also working on laser systems that will be mounted inside aircraft to destroy missiles in flight. The Air Force ended development of an airborne chemical laser early last year in favor of solid-state lasers.

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RE: Seems pretty easy to defeat...
By FaaR on 1/24/2011 8:59:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just their eyes (which can be protected by using goggles); I'm thinking the crew might get some involuntary deep-skin suntanning from backscatter when shooting off such high-powered lasers.

I'm not a doctor or a physicist so I don't know the risk of this actually happening, but it wouldn't do at all if there's any chance at all of putting the ship's own crew in the infirmary when firing this weapon. I suppose rad-suits are the order of the day, in addition to eye-goggles... :D

RE: Seems pretty easy to defeat...
By SlyNine on 1/25/2011 12:44:03 AM , Rating: 2
I'll take my own guess.

I'd imagine that only in very unique atmospheric conditions would this be a problem. We've seen kilowatt plus lasers fired and no scattering was even noticed, for the scattering effect to actually be deadly I'm guessing were not even close.

Honestly this sounds about like the myth that going 60MPH plus will kill you.

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