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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: Pew pew?
By JKflipflop98 on 1/25/2011 12:27:35 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a rocket scientist, but I would think that the amount of liquid smoke agent or water vapor it would take to suck up 1MW of sustained power would be a major concern on a rocket.

RE: Pew pew?
By chromal on 1/25/2011 1:56:50 AM , Rating: 2
I certainly couldn't say; I suppose it would depend on the weather conditions over the laser defensive positions at the time of the attack, how long the hypothetical delivery platform's ABM countermeasures would need to last.

Lots of players can put 20k KG, or 22 tons, into low earth orbit. Sub-orbital ballistics require less energy than that, sometimes a lot less. It's plausible, but yes, everything related to weight is always a major concern in rocket design.

It's been videoed elsewhere, such as over eastern Asia. I guess the same accident keeps happening, or maybe someone's doing it intentionally. A countermeasure system aiming for protection against directed energy weapons and/or radar targeting is a fascinating idea. Depending on the system's physical shielding, a bit of protection might go a long way.

It's not hard to believe the major powers of the world intend to aim for some sort of strategic military parity, though official alarmism probably wouldn't be constructive...

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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