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Air Force Looks To Laser-Proof Its Weapons

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the have-you-ever-heard-of-a-mirror dept.

The Military 347

slugo writes "This wired.com article has probably the coolest laser destruction video you have ever seen. The video shows the Israeli and US Air Force working on laser defense systems. The US Air Force is starting to look for ways to laser-proof its bombs and missiles — with spray-on coatings, no less. They think everyone is going to figure this laser thing out sometime and need a defense against what they are already very good at — shooting things out of the sky with a laser."

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Laser-proof first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411481)

heh

Re:Laser-proof first post (4, Interesting)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411895)

Your first post is in as much danger from lasers as anything else. Which is none at all. It's been 25 years [wikipedia.org] and untold billions of dollars secretly(gotta love the Cold War) pumped into viable military applications for lasers. What do we have to show for it?!? An entirely-useless-chemical-laser-carrying 747 [wikipedia.org] that:

1) Has gotten so far in that last 12 years of focused development that it has finished "target illumination" testing.
2) Has 40 shot maximum payload (according to the entirely optimistic marketers of this project). They admit that it is only really specced for 20 shots now, though.
3) Does NOT have any variety shark attached to it.

I think Northrop Grumman, Boeing and all the other defense contractors had the following plan when they met with Reagan:
1)Convince The Gipper that Green lasers is just what's needed to kill the Red Communists. ("It'd be just like that recent film by that young George Lucas, and we know how much you love movies, Mr. President."
2) (optional) ???
3) Profit!!!

Re:Laser-proof first post (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412003)

In response to the American Strategic Defence Initiative and continued military use of the shuttle, the Soviet Union fired a 'warning shot' from the Terra-3 laser complex at Sary Shagan. The facility tracked Challenger with a low power laser on 10 October 1984. This caused malfunctions to on-board equipment and discomfort / temporary blinding of the crew, leading to a US diplomatic protest. [astronautix.com]
And that was just the soviet union in 1984.

Pentagon confirms Beijing's anti-satellite laser [theregister.co.uk]
This was in china in 2005 (confirmed in 2006).

Now, we have an "entirely-useless-chemical-laser-carrying 747"????
  1. Exactly what do you think that is for? Rockets in boost? A laser in space would do a better job. Have you looked closely at the turitt on the front. Surprise, it can point and shoot UPWARDS. Now we have the ability to take ALL chinese sats around the world, not just approaching our soil.
  2. Do you think that this is our ONLY laser? What exactly do you think happened in 1977, when Carter found out that USSR had a ground based laser? This is the man responsible for stealth aircrafts. He is the one that wanted to remove all of the large naval ships except for aircraft carriers and SSBN, and move to smaller heavily automated crafts that worked together (surprise; that is the navy that we are moving to now). Take a trip to Alaska sometime. Wonderful things up there to see (or perhaps NOT to see).

Well played, sir... (3, Informative)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412285)

Your use of a conspiratorial tone in combination with a series of rhetorical questions and vague, but scary, implications in the text you quoted have swayed some of the moderators. Well played, indeed! To that I can only respond, from your own sources:

From the Terra-3 [astronautix.com] page of your "Encyclopedia Astronautica":
The first applications would have to be limited to anti-satellite, and then primarily to blind optical sensors --Hmmmm...a high-powered flashlight...
Remember: from your own quote it was not "discomfort and temporary blinding" but instead there was a "/" in there. Meaning that the discomfort was the temporary blinding.

Alas, your Register article doesn't fare much better in supporting your beautifully possible theories if you read past the first line. Heres's the second line for your benefit:
The high-powered light was able to blind onboard cameras, acknowledged National Reconnaissance Office director Donald Kerr...
So, if this is the best you have to show, I'm afraid, despite how incredibly impressive really bright lights are, I'll stand by my previous statements about the uselessness of the current military laser technology. Except for what the Men In Black have, of course.

"Israli Weapons"? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411979)

So, are we (tax paying Americans) sponsoring this tech that will be just handed over to the Zionists?

It's obvious, isn't it? (4, Funny)

JeremyBanks (1036532) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411487)

Cover everything in mirrors.

Not so obvious... (5, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411503)

Doesn't necessarily work as well as it does in scifi. Mirrors aren't perfect, and tend to gather things like dust, which reduce their efficiency even more. Not to mention different mirrors vary in their effectiveness with different spectrum lasers.

Shouldn't matter much, but at the high powers weaponized lasers operate at, they quickly destroy mirrors.

As for working on anti-laser stuff, well, it's best to keep three steps ahead militarily wise - tends to keep your casualties down.

Armour them and spin them. (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411605)

The problems with lasers is that the need to punch through the armour in the time they can stay on target.

#1. Spin them. If the laser cannot hit the same spot for X fragments of a second then it cannot burn through (unless you get a bigger laser).

#2. For when the enemy gets a bigger laser, you coat the missile in a nice insulator. Something like carbon.

So now the laser has to punch through the carbon armour before the missile rotates new armour into sight.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411825)

Instead of carbon, how about that magical substance known as: Tin Foil.

If it's good enough to stop the beams entering my head, it should be good enough to stop the beams from entering missiles!

Blimp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412265)

Mount lasers on something large and slow like an airship heavy transport. Maybe you could cover the airship with photoelectric material to gather solar energy, to power the laser.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (5, Informative)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411871)

Time to stop thinking of lasers as light and start thinking of them as particle cannons. So it all depends on the type of particle you a firing at the target, whether it passes right through the armour to target the components you a particularly after, or even if it actively targets the armour as part of the destructive affect.

It is all about how much energy you want to get on target, the nature of that energy and the affect you wish to achieve.

So, minimal amount of energy solution, target CPUs and get all the 0s to be 1s and those smart weapons go stupid and don't target targeting anything ;D.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411987)

target CPUs and get all the 0s to be 1s and those smart weapons go stupid and don't target targeting anything

I see they got to yours already.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411889)

Um, someone correct me if i'm mistaken, but don't most artillery shells and rockets already spin rapidly for stability?

Re:Armour them and spin them. (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412203)

Some rockets spin leaving the launching device for stability, before they are armed. All artillery barrels are rifled so yes they spin.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (5, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412207)

yup the 81MM mortar is a smoothebore but it's round has fins at the base that are canted so the projo spins in flight. 81's are slow too, after you drop one down the tube you can look up and see the round about 100m down range and watch it going until after it's a little past it's max ordinate and it disappears. Howitzers have a rifled barrel so the round spins. All artillery rounds that I know of have a fuse that doesn't arm until the round has spun so many times, this prevents most barrel bursts. Shooting one 81 doesn't impress me, shooting 3 fired in a ripple that's getting interesting; shoot down 3 fired at the same time I'm impressed, but remember real world is going to be somebody see all the loud IR energy pointing at the laser source and they are likely to answer with 3 81mm;s in flight, backed up by three salvos of 3 60mm mortars all taking the high trajectory while 6 more 155mm howitzer rounds are coming in low and fast.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (1)

sir fer (1232128) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412573)

You're assuming that the people these systems are going to be used against are that technically savvy and have access. Judging from the "insurgents" in Iraq, I doubt they have the skills or means.

Re:Armour them and spin them. (2, Interesting)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412011)

As a guess, the artillery round was spinning as was at least one of the rockets engaged (visible in the video). Any sort of insulator means taking out either shell casing or explosive or both. Tends to make the round less lethal and may also mess with the ballistics. The other guy has to do this to all of his rounds since he doesn't know which ones will be engaged by a laser defense. So you end up making the other guy let's say 25% less effective everywhere because you have a laser defense at a few places.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:Not so obvious... (5, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411623)

a simple chrome coating can add a few seconds of protection for a shell, enough to prevent it from being destroyed before it reaches its target. Mirrors are vulnerable because the reflective surface is usually very thin and poorly heat-protected. Chrome a shell and the shell serves as a heat sink to dissipate most of the energy the chrome actually ends up absorbing in the first place. Chrome's a lot hardier than a few microns of silvering.

The lasers weren't blowing holes in the shells, they were cooking them. They aren't nearly as devastating as you might at first believe. Several of their demos required several seconds to detonate the incoming round. If you can buy another 3 seconds of time on a shell, that's probably enough to beat the laser. You only have to survive the heat from the time you are acquired to the time you pass out of view of the laser.

I'm more interested in how they are generating that much laser energy. Most lasers of that calibre are chemical, and I didn't see what I would expect of a chemical laser. Being able to engage several targets one after another rapidly is a big plus over traditional chemical lasers, which require large amounts of chemicals which have to be pumped in, triggered, and vented to be replaced with more chemicals to fire again. The large flying laser beds work this way and I don't even know if they can fire more than once without landing and refueling with more chemicals. (though they are certainly more powerful than the one demo'd here)

They also demo this in the desert every time I see it. No clouds, low humidity, line of sight. Guess what laser weapons don't do well in?

Re:Not so obvious... (3, Insightful)

Prune (557140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411701)

This is a deuterium fluoride chemical laser. Indeed, in one of the infrared segments you can see the heated exhaust behind the unit.

Re:Not so obvious... (1)

mach1980 (1114097) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412557)

Soo, they will shoot down potential WMD:s by using a laser, positioned near the target to protect (hence TACTICAL), that vents stuff that makes highly toxic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrofluoric_acid [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not so obvious... (4, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411769)

Last time I saw a specification for the laser mounted in a modified 747, it had 30 seconds of firing capacity, and was capable of being turned on and off at will.

That 30 seconds was considered sufficient to engage something like 5-15 targets.

Oh no, not in the desert! (2, Insightful)

bigmacd24 (1168847) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411827)

America doing weapon's testing in the desert? Yee-gads! It's not like that's where the majority of their theaters have been for the last two decades. Most american bombs are droped in, you guessed it, the desert. And isreal, the only country currently using lasers to defend against active atacks is located in... wait for it... the desert.

Re:Oh no, not in the desert! (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412129)

Sure. But deserts also have weather. It may not be moisture, but sand in a sand storm is just as (or more) likely to disperse or attenuate light as moisture is. So while sandstorms are more common in Iraq [google.ca] , they are not unknown in Israel [livejournal.com] either. So if you timed your attack in the season where sandstorms are common, you would negate a lot of the advantage of these weapons.

Re:Not so obvious... (1)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411875)

So coating missiles in smoke bomb material could make them only get about as hot as the smoke bomb material burned, right?

Environmental Impact (5, Funny)

DougF (1117261) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411893)

of chrome would probably rule out using it as a coating/shield. Its tough enough getting EPA approval to use chromium coatings on stuff that isn't going to go BOOM (such as bearings/anti-corrosive coatings, etc), let alone a proposal that says "We'd like to put chrome on artillery rounds so there are lots of opportunities to leach into water supplies, cause cancer, etc."

Re:Environmental Impact (3, Insightful)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411993)

See depleted uranium bullets.

Re:Environmental Impact (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412345)

In other words, only use it where you shit but not where you eat.

Re:Not so obvious... (3, Informative)

Brain_Recall (868040) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411937)

Chrome might help with lasers, but it'll decrease other factors such as stealth, both visual and radar. Older fighters (think P-51 Mustang or B-29 Superfortress) often went out with polished aluminum skins. Later generations opted to increase the weight by adding paint, so that they could get additional visual camouflage both when on the ground and in the sky (depending on where they were being deployed they would go with different color schemes, though lately the services prefer the general-all-around-good patchy-gray). I'm no specialist, but I also imagine a chrome/polished surface isn't the best radar absorbent material available.

Re:Not so obvious... (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412055)

Most weapons (bombs and missiles) aren't really 'stealthy' to begin with. The bulk of bombs and missiles currently in wide spread use are based on physical designs that are decades old. They may have been upgraded (new warheads, new motors, new seekers, new guidance, whatever), but the physical setup is the same. As a result, they were never designed with stealth in mind. Making them chrome isn't really going to hurt.

Stealthy weapons (actually stealthy weapons) shouldn't be tracked in the first place.

Re:Not so obvious... (1)

Brain_Recall (868040) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412309)

Today's laser systems all use radar to detect and track targets, so perhaps the best defense against lasers is the best defense against radars.

Re:Not so obvious... (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412053)

No clouds, low humidity, line of sight. Guess what laser weapons don't do well in?
Yeah, our DOD ppl just can not think for themselves. Thank God we have you to point out the screw ups that we make. Or, you can think that perhaps not all is a fake:
Very quickly, deuterium was dropped in favor of hydrogen, since it is far less costly and more readily available. However, later it was realized that HF produces infrared radiation in the 2.6 to 3.1 m waveband, a region of the spectrum absorbed by water vapor in the atmosphere. Interest was renewed in DF, which produces radiation in the 3.7 to 4.2 m band, which passes easily through the atmosphere. [wikipedia.org]
THough to be fair, we still need a line of sight. Of course, that could be bounced off a sat.

Re:Not so obvious... (2, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412259)

phenolic resins are pretty heat resistant or maybe something that breaks down endothermicly when irradiated with IR.

Re:Not so obvious... (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412299)

As someone else mentioned, it's a deuterium fluoride chemical laser. It's the Tactical High Energy Laser [wikipedia.org] demo system from 2000 mounted on three semitrailer-sized trucks. It isn't a fieldable system; it's just a semi-mobile demo unit.

Israel has considerable interest in this thing, because they have fixed locations to defend against hostile neighbors who use unguided rockets, and they're in a desert with clear air. So they have the special case where this is a useful technology. The US military isn't that interested because, in its current form, it doesn't solve any problem the US military faces. When the technology is shrunk to where one vehicle can carry it, the US military will be more interested.

Re:Not so obvious... (1)

Mad Dog Manley (93208) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412373)

a simple chrome coating can add a few seconds of protection for a shell, enough to prevent it from being destroyed before it reaches its target.

Any chrome or metal coating added to a missile or shell that is designed to increase reflectivity, will (very likely) increase the radar reflectivity of the object. That may have the unintended consequence of making the object more susceptible to standard intercept missiles which use radar guidance. It will be difficult to defend against both defensive possibilities, giving flexibility on the tactical side in which method (laser, radar guidance) is most effective.

That's why you need the friggin' sharks! (5, Funny)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411511)

That's why you need sharks to go with your lasers. You think you can defend yourself with mirrors, do you? Don't you know that sharks like to eat shiny things?

Re:That's why you need the friggin' sharks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412023)

The US Air Force is starting to look for ways to laser-proof...

Flying sharks with lasers? Awesome!

Re:It's obvious, isn't it? (1)

skaet (841938) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411573)

I can ... see it now ... people will ... start seeing more ... UFOs ... because of ... more ... "flashes in ... the sky" GODDAMMIT WILL SOMEONE STOP FLASHING THAT LIGHT IN MY EYES!

Re:It's obvious, isn't it? (3, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411673)

Cover everything in mirrors.

... preferably shaped like a disco ball, and also incorporating a loudspeaker system that plays a continuous loop of The Trampps "Burn baby burn, disco inferno"

Re:It's obvious, isn't it? (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412535)

Why mirrors. Why not something that's retroreflective? I mean, if you can put 1% of your energy back on laser, and it looks like the laser and the sensor are part of the same piece, you could saturate the detector.

Your first missile, whatever, might end up destroyed, but you might succeed in blowing the CCD chips in the sensors.

One of the best laser defenses (0, Offtopic)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411499)

OK, If somebody Rs TFA and my issue is addressed, feel free to enlighten/pwn me. But one of the best laser defenses I know of is simply misguiding missiles. Many are laser/infrared guided so, by providing false input, you can misdirect them and guide them off-target. It seems that any spray that can filter out a false signal will also filter out the true signal.

Discuss.

Re:One of the best laser defenses (1, Informative)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411539)

I question your mastery of the English language. The article is not about how to defend against missiles with lasers, but how to defend missiles against lasers -- specifically lasers which are aimed at a missile to poke a hole in it and/or destroy sensitive electronics.

Re:One of the best laser defenses (0)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411615)

I question your mastery of the English language. The article is not about how to defend against missiles with lasers, but how to defend missiles against lasers -- specifically lasers which are aimed at a missile to poke a hole in it and/or destroy sensitive electronics.

I am actually a native speaker and I realize this. Not sure if you're a troll, a smart-ass, or just a pedant - Thanks for summarizing the summary.

I was just trying to point out that the main laser-based anti-missile tactic that I'm aware of involves misdirection rather than destruction and I was casting out a line for further thoughts. We (the US) have heavily investigated both sides. The main counter-weapon systems that I'm aware of (mainly for commercial jets) don't try to shoot down missiles, just make them miss. Just putting out a feeler in case somebody closer to the issue to me knows whether conventional targeting systems (laser/infrared - I realize that there are others that won't care) can be made compatible with this anti-high-power-laser defense.

Re:One of the best laser defenses (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412369)

I question your mastery of the English language. The article is not about how to defend against missiles with lasers, but how to defend missiles against lasers

I question your mastery of the English language. Your parent post was not referring to "missiles with lasers". It was referring to missiles that can be misdirected using laser-powered counter-measures.

English mother-fucker - Do you speak it?

Re:One of the best laser defenses (2, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411545)

Sorry for the self-reply, but my brain's still spinning. White Sands missile range had some success shooting down artillery shells, but it had a hell of a time with it. Basically they just spin to damned fast to heat up any single point enough to cause the device to fail.

I am not an aeronautic engineer, but would spinning a bomb be efficient/effective? What about missiles?

Probably more difficult than a reflective spray, but spinning could be predicted and could still have a competent guidance system with existing targeting methods.

spinning ballistic missiles? (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411903)

I'm no rocket scientist but...

Spinning something as large as a ballistic missile, in the boost phase which is when these lasers are useful as well as when the rocket is full of fuel and rather heavy, might conceivably produce gyroscopic effects which could increase trajectory calculation complexity quite a bit?

Just throwing that out as a possibility.

Re:spinning ballistic missiles? (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411927)

I posted upthread about this, but after watching TFV(ideo) again i'm certain about it. A mere 40ish seconds in there's a slow motion shot of a rocket firing, and if you watch the rear stabilizers you can quite clearly see that the rocket is rotating very rapidly. So yes, rockets/missiles can spin.

Don't tell me that they've finally. . . (1)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411533)

weaponized bling. Jay-Z will be one of our biggest defense contractors.

Simple business plan. (5, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411541)

1. Buy all the Krylon 'Chrome' spray paint.
2. Relabel it and sell it to the government as 'Anti-Laser Shielding'.
3. Profit!

Ha ha h- wait... there's a step #2. There's never a step #2. wtf

Re:Simple business plan. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411651)

FAIL.

1. Buy all the Krylon 'Chrome' spray paint.
2. Relabel it and sell it to the government as 'Anti-Laser Shielding'.
3. ???
4. Profit!

Re:Simple business plan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412145)

Actually, there's never a step three.

well that was a waste of money (5, Insightful)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411553)

my sharks-with-freaking-laser-beams missile defense is useless now

Re:well that was a waste of money (3, Funny)

Repton (60818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411911)

One of these days, Slashdot will post a story with the word 'laser' in the summary and people won't tag it "sharks"...

(probably because Slashdotters will all be too busy playing DNF to comment)

Re:well that was a waste of money (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412431)

As long as the planes stay in the air, maybe, but the pilots had better watch out if they ever crash into the ocean :)

And just when they figure this out... (1)

deepgrey (1246108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411569)

MASER weapons!! mwahahaha

insulation? (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411579)

so if we chrome plate the space shuttles heat shield tiles this whole LASER system is thwarted.

Also it clearly needs to be mounted on the moon, we can call it project Death Star.

Um. when did they get good at this? (1)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411581)

Because, last I checked, they could only shoot things out of the sky with a laser when the trajectory, speed, etc was known. Otherwise, it was impossible to get the laser aligned to hit the very fast moving object quick enough.

Re:Um. when did they get good at this? (1)

elnico (1290430) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411637)

From the video in the article, it seems that the laser was acquiring targets all on its own. It could have been clever editing, but the thing looked like it was working quite well.

I'm not all that surprised, either; it's been quite a while since laser defense was in the public's attention. Plenty of time for technology to advance.

Re:Um. when did they get good at this? (2, Informative)

Prune (557140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411715)

It's been able to track on its own since around 2001 or 2002. This is mentioned on one of the wikipedia pages.

sharks with frik'n lazer beams on their heads (1)

spooje (582773) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411625)

We need to do this to our torpedos or we'll still be vulnerable to Dr. Evil's sharks.

They're So Small They're Evading Our Turbolasers! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411643)

We'll have to destroy them ship to ship. Get the crews to their fighters.

It seems to slow for mortars. (4, Informative)

doublee3 (1276070) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411663)

Judging from the video it seems to be able to shoot blow up 9-10 mortars per minute. But a quick google search showed that the M224 60mm Light Mortar can fire at 8-20 mortars per minute indefinitely or 18-30 mortars per minute for 1-4 minutes. Seems like you'd need a lot of these lasers to make an area 100% protected from mortars.

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411849)

Seems like you'd need a lot of these lasers to make an area 100% protected from mortars.

Likely. What is unlikely is that these would be the only defensive measures.

Best defense is a good offense.

Someone shooting mortars at you? The lasers will kill some of the incoming rounds. While the lasers are doing that you're busy setting up a counter-battery fire against the mortars. The mortars are suddenly on the receiving end of a barrage of proximity fused HE and DPICM rounds which makes them stop firing in a rather abrupt and violent fashion.

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (3, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412315)

Artillery have been hip-shooting for decades, i was doing it since before GPS so with GPS it's got to be almost as accurate as set, surveyed shoots. As soon as you shoot you scoot because you just automatically assume somebody is going to drop a big steel present on your former position and it'll be there in about a minute.

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411867)

Three words:

Counter

Battery

Fire

:)

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (5, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412143)

Three words: Counter Battery Fire :)

Heh. Reminds me of a story about a sort of makeshift counterbattery fire someone once told me. Small Lebanese army military camp in Lebanon during the civil war, and every afternoon they'd go outside and play volleyball. Local shia militia jerks noticed the pattern and started dropping mortar rounds in the middle of their volleyball game every day. Immediate patrols trying to find them turned up nothing, as the shia militia jerks simply drop a few rounds, picked up the mortar tube, kicked sand over the base plate, and ran. Tiring of this, the Lebanese army guys measured the angle of the holes at the bottom of the impact craters made by the fuse assemblies being blown into the ground and used trigonometry to figure out where the rounds probably came from--- about a quarter mile away. Based on the size of the rounds, they knew the shias weren't taking the heavy base plate with them when they ran. They went out there in the middle of the night and, sure enough, right where they calculated, they found the mortar base plate. They picked it up, buried a big antitank mine underneath, and carefully concealed the plate just as they found it. Next day, they went out to play volleyball. Five minutes into the game, they head a loud explosion from the direction where the plate was. No mortar rounds ever interrupted their game after that.

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412511)

Thanks for giving me a great way of explaining how trigonometry could be useful to people in high school.

In case you ever want to find out where that stray mortar fire is coming from, trust your friend trigonometry!

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412019)

If the mortar crew wants to live, they can't fire a lot of rounds. Radar can pick up the mortars, calculate launch location, and assign counterbattery fire (like dropping 6 inch shells) within seconds (say 10 seconds). Say the mortars are 5km away from the counterbattery battery. Maybe another 20 seconds.

Also, multiple lasers are a given I think.

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (4, Interesting)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412113)

We already have this. It's called the Phalanx sometimes, or just CIWS (close in weapons system). It features a 20 mm vulcan cannon, multiple radars, autonomous operation, and on top of that it can track multiple (dozens) incoming targets as well as its own outgoing projectiles. They can also network together to form a basewide protective shield. They are loaded with a tracer every 20 or 30 rounds and at night the bullet stream looks like the world's most powerful and accurate garden hose- one continuous stream of projectiles. The sound and feeling even from 200 yards is something you'll never forget, especially after you clean your pants the first time they fire without warning. Watching 5 of them fire in synch during a test is awe-inspiring (in good and bad ways, I guess).

Yeah, lasers, great... But in a deployed area, the CIWS provides early warning and interception of incoming mortars and missiles and doesn't require anything more than a generator and a full magazine. Someday lasers might provide an even better shield but until then we could use a few more CIWS in the field.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgpQBZF2sZQ [youtube.com]

You should watch that video- dove or hawk, any geek has to admit that the phalanx is one bad ass mutha.

-b

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412229)

I've always found that gun unsettling... it looks too much like Terminator's ancestor. If I were near it, I'd go gray worrying about it mistaking me for a target :/

Re:It seems to slow for mortars. (2, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412525)

Eh, if you can turn 15 mortars into 5, if have done yourself pretty good. On top of that, realize that the longer you fire mortars (especially against Americans or Israelis), the far more likely an artillery shell is going to come your way. Every time you toss up a mortar, a radar station is tracking it. The Israelis have gotten so good at it, that they can practically return fire before the rocket/mortar has hit the ground. These days, the only way Hamas and the like can take a pop shot across the border is to do it from a place of high civilian density, and then seriously run like hell the second they have unloaded.

Personally, I am kind of surprised that Israel hasn't put something like a phalanx in spots that are prone to rocket attack... though I suppose a few thousand bullets coming down into civilian areas might have something to do with it.

The answer is mirv (5, Insightful)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411681)

mirv already exists and so does flack. You can't hit what you don't know is a target. There are always limits to energy per unit time per unit area and since we are already 10 trillion dollars in debt destroying things, perhaps that money would be better spent on a plan to grow some crops to eat.

Re:The answer is mirv (4, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412149)

perhaps that money would be better spent on a plan to grow some crops to eat.

We already grow enough crops. Hunger is a politically created distribution problem, not a problem of lack of food.

Yawn (2, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412585)

We already grow enough crops. Hunger is a politically created distribution problem, not a problem of lack of food.

Every time this comes up someone trots out "it's a distribution problem, not a production problem" line.

Here's a clue for you, while better distribution might be one part of the solution, so is more production, ie production where food is needed.

Any solution based on distribution is inevitably reliant on political goodwill. Production can empower people so that they aren't so dependant on ongoing political goodwill.

Re:The answer is mirv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412273)

The Earth, and certainly the US in particular, already has a surplus of food. However there is one African country that does not any more, mainly due to the farmers lacking arms.

Once it discovers it, security becomes an issue (4, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411735)

Hopefully the guy making the decisions weighed espionage. You can really shoot yourself in the foot if you find a counter to your own missle defense and then someone publishes the counter. Do you really need an anti missle defense technology so bad that it is worth endangering your own missle defense?

Re:Once it discovers it, security becomes an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411807)

Eventually everything is countered.

The trick is to be first with the measure and the counter-measure.

Re:Once it discovers it, security becomes an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411815)

In this case, the counter is already known (lasers).

The anti-laser tech is of course, deflecting the laser.

The enemy would of course, have to spend all the money first to get the laser shoot-down tech first. We're just developing the anti-laser stuff first because it's better to be proactive than reactive. It would take a long time to convert an armory over to anti-laser if a enemy figured it out tommorow.

why not meta-laser-defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411773)

Why not put lasers on our weapons that are designed to take out their laser installations?

Re:why not meta-laser-defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24411833)

I'm not sure how you could get a huge heavy laser and it's power up in the air short of something like a hercules (which would be torn apart as soon as the laser spotted it).. Although it does seem like the laser is incredibly vulnerable (what happens if you fired shells from it along the ground - surely the momentum of the projectile wouldn't be entirely deflected by lasers?). You could put it in a ditch and surround it with regular weaponary for defence, I guess..

Shark Repellent Spray? (1, Funny)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411837)

If you repel the sharks, the lasers will go too.

Dragged along for the ride (5, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411851)

  1. Create an expensive and ostentatious weapons system on which other nations were not willing to squander billions of dollars
  2. Make a cool video about it and circulate it widely. Conceal the real, practical day-to-day performance results.
  3. If a global arms race fails to start, announce that you are also developing a handy-dandy, sure-fire defense against the weapons system only you possess. Caution: increased risk of scam backfiring.
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

Yet another defense industry scam, and all of us are dragged along for the ride.

Re:Dragged along for the ride (1)

Artaxs (1002024) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412221)

The cynic in me can't help but agree with you, but this is the first "evidence" I've seen that such a thing can even work consistently. Given, these are all "staged" successes, but I have to admit that I am now a little more convinced that someday the USA could shoot down a few of those Chinese / Russian / Pakistani(?) nukes in an incoming ICBM attack.

Also, WarGames [imdb.com] was being shown on the big screen for it's 25th anniversary here recently, which reminded me that "close" only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and global thermonuclear war.

EESTOR (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24411931)

If EEstor is real, no doubt the feds are going to buy a lot of this. We have railguns and lasers coming on line. Our new DDX will have both. The ABL is designed not to just shoot rockets, but also to take out sats (it is flying at 40-50K feet; a great deal less atmosphere). And of course, our f22 were designed to handle lasers and we will shortly have them on their. My understanding is that future guns for the F22 will also be rail guns. Funny thing is, that most countries are gearing up with crewed planes. We are moving towards automated because we have figured it out that a human is not going to be able to manuever fast enough to avoid these things. But an automated system combined with a remote pilot, just might. Even the M1 is to be modified for these. And EEStor may make it all possible. All these toys will be held back for the next real war (and not just a bungled invasion). I think that any pres that tries to bring these forward for something as small as Iraq/Afghanistan would be lynched by the DOD.

Re:EESTOR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412335)

The F-22 won't. The F-35 will. The variants without the liftfan will have over 35,000 HP (26 megawatts) available for whatever directed energy weapon can fit in that space.

Best Offense Is a Good Defense (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412005)

what they are already very good at -- shooting things out of the sky with a laser.

No, the Pentagon still sucks at shooting things out of the sky with a laser. They are excellent at spending $BILLIONS on trying, over and again, for decades.

Maybe they're laser-proofing everything because they're so bad at lasering stuff that they're afraid they'll laser our own stuff. At the very least, it's innovation in spending $BILLIONS on lasers.

Re:Best Offense Is a Good Defense (1)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412253)

No, the Pentagon still sucks at shooting things out of the sky with a laser.

BS. On what are you basing that statement? That's like saying that the Pentagon still sucks at mining Helium3 on the Moon. Yes it does, but that's only because they're not actually doing it very much if at all. When the Pentagon DOES test laser defense technologies, it tends to do very well.

All of the unclassified literature I've been seeing seems to confirm that the various US laser defense technologies have been very successful in testing to date.

http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/asat/971022-miracl-mr.htm [fas.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative [wikipedia.org]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/2407807.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Frankly, its none of your business what is being said in the classified literature about the results of laser testing.

Re:Best Offense Is a Good Defense (1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412363)

Frankly, its none of your business what is being said in the classified literature about the results of laser testing.

You start off accusing me (falsely) of a straw man, then end off lecturing me in some straw man about my business with classified laser testing literature.

What a bunch of "malarkey".

The Star Wars tests for 25 years have consistently failed to shoot down anything except the most carefully controlled test targets. The tests are usually faked, propaganda to keep spending those $BILLIONS on a defense system that is instead provocative, and worse than useless. That wasted money spent on crony defense contractors is all that Start Wars is ever good for.

But you ridiculous Republicans keep demanding it. You've been wrong about everything else, especially with such huge price tags, so why shouldn't you insist on more Star Wars boondoggles?

Frankly, you should stop talking like your made-up pronouncements on national "defense" and what business Americans have in debunking it are worth listening to.

Re:Best Offense Is a Good Defense (0)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412561)

You start off accusing me (falsely) of a straw man

I accused you of nothing but confusing opinion with fact. You posted opinion, I posted fact to counter it. So I'll ask again - on what do you base your statement that "the Pentagon still sucks at shooting things out of the sky with a laser"? If its strictly your opinion, then you know what they say about opinions - everybody has one but only a select few use Tucks to keep them clean.

then end off lecturing me in some straw man about my business with classified laser testing literature.

What I said was the truth. You are in no position to know anything about the classified literature in the field of US laser technologies. You're some anonymous loudmouth tool on the Internet with an opinion, and clearly don't have the "need to know" such sensitive information.

The Star Wars tests for 25 years have consistently failed to shoot down anything except the most carefully controlled test targets.

A lie, easily refuted by the links I provided.

But you ridiculous Republicans keep demanding it.

You assume a lot, anonymous loudmouth tool on the Internet.

Frankly, you should stop talking like your made-up pronouncements on national "defense" and what business Americans have in debunking it are worth listening to.

Not on your best day and me on my worst, tool.

Use an optical cloaking device (2, Interesting)

yorkshiredale (1148021) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412041)

If you can wrap the missile in an optical cloaking device (http://www.physorg.com/news94744716.html) then the incoming laser energy should just 'flow' around the body of the missile and exit the other side.

The resulting dispersal of the laser energy would prevent the missile from being seriously damaged.

wow, how much dps can that thing tank? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412057)

couldn't help myself :D

Is it ready for real-world testing? (1, Insightful)

Kreplock (1088483) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412071)

Give it a week near the Gaza Strip, for a daily workout.

I guess they'll put ray shielding on the planes (1)

AndresCP (979913) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412097)

But they'll still be vulnerable to attacks with proton torpedoes.

The Scots had anti-laser defences centuries ago (2, Funny)

chebucto (992517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412115)

In battle, they would don a full-length ball gown covered in sequins. The idea was to blind your opponent with luxury.

A more modern tack might simply be to let Frank Ghery design the bomb casing. The high-strength reflective materials would avert damage, while the deconstructionist curved form would, with luck, send the beam back to the attackers, using their own laser against them like in a cliched Star Trek episode.

How to beat it? (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412123)

  1. It won't work when it's cloudy
  2. Hope there are no aircraft in the empty space accidentally covered by the laser beam
  3. Just paint the shells blue. The trick isn't in making the projectile mirror back the laser, it's in making it stealthy enough not to be recognizable and trackable.

Bad timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412153)

Damn, and this right after I invested all my money in shark lasers.

So what happens when... (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412457)

...everyone has laser-proof missiles?

As a former artilleryman... (5, Informative)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24412463)

I say, good luck!.

Even a modest artillery battery, on a bad day, with the hot, dusty wind in their face and half their crew asleep, can manage to put 18 rounds downrange, per minute. With a 30 second flight time (hey, it varies with range), you've got less than two seconds per projectile if you're going to destroy them all. And the laser takes several seconds per round to destroy it. And that's without the coating.

So here's what you do: you fire a 'smurf' round - that is, a hollow steel round as your first projectile. Because it doesn't have any explosive, the laser will track it and burn it until it hits the ground, paving the way for the remaining rounds to come through without any problem.

Granted, I think lasers are cool and all, but we already have anti-rocket systems like the Navy's phalanx which seem to be much more effective. The problem is that something like a 3000 rpm chain gun can put more energy on the target than most tactical lasers. Even more embarassing, a .50 cal round can pierce 2 inches of solid steel at ranges greater than 3 kilometers. A single .50 cal round impacting nose of an artillery shell would detonate it instantly. Why not use those precision servos to direct a weapon with real takedown power? Ballistic flight trajectories aren't that hard to calculate.

And unlike the laser, artillery can hit things beyond visual range, in places obstructed from direct line of sight. Put yourself in a valley, and your laser defense system might not even track the round until its already too late. I think it's a step in the right direction, but they clearly need much more powerful lasers to be practical.

Sure! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412505)

I bet I can figure it out. I'll just need one of those lasers they're talking about, for testing purposes ;)

the battle isnt going to be won on the field (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24412537)

its going to be won in the economic arena, and the US is losing. in 30 years, we will have only fry cooks and customer service reps, everything else will have een outsourced or made automatic. a bunker will hold about 5000 computer/robot engineers, and massive hospitals will form the basis of the economy, as there will be no other jobs.

meanwhile, china will have a base on the moon, and still have only invaded tibet, and no other countries. but at least they cant shoot us with a laser.

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