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Warships May Get Lasers For Close-In Defense

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the hot-in-here-or-is-it-me dept.

The Military 482

King Louie writes "Raytheon and the US Navy have successfully tested a ship-borne laser capable of shooting down aircraft. Video at the link shows the 32-kilowatt solid-state laser shooting down an unmanned aerial vehicle. The technology is apparently mature enough to be deployed as part of ships' short-range missile defenses, a role currently filled by the Basic Point Defense Missile System (based on the Sea Sparrow missile) and the Close-In Weapons System (based on a 20mm Gatling gun)."

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One Question.. (5, Funny)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968156)

Is it shark-mountable?

Re:One Question.. (5, Funny)

thesandbender (911391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968172)

We're going to need a bigger shark.

Re:One Question.. (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968508)

We're going to need a bigger shark.

That's necessary just to get the larger sized cooling fins of course. I understand those things can get toasty warm even when water cooled.

Re:One Question.. (5, Funny)

memyselfandeye (1849868) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968796)

Don't know if we're just fishing for gaffs or trolling for comments, but some people sure have a whale of a time with their puns around here.

Re:One Question.. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968540)

Here you go, the Shark 2000! [flickr.com] And yes, you could mount a laser on this puppy easily.

Re:One Question.. (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968350)

Is it shark-mountable?

Now there's a stupid question. Where do you think the lasers COME FROM? Obviously the shark tank.

Re:One Question.. (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968356)

Is it shark-mountable?

Probably, but it would burn the hell out of the shark's groin.

Re:One Question.. (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968694)

Is it shark-mountable?

WARNING: Do not look at shark with remaining good eye.

Shark handlers (0, Redundant)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968164)

Does the price include the shark handlers?

no robo sharks! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968184)

no robo sharks!

Yeah. (-1, Troll)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968186)

Yeah. Too bad, though, since dropping gravity bombs from planes had its heyday during 1935 to 1955.

Nobody's tried doing that for a long long time.

What you do is stand off 20 miles and shoot a missile at the ship.

So an anti-plane laser is not all that useful. And what if it's a cloudy day?

Re:Yeah. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968222)

You're being too literal. It could be used for anti-missile defense.

Re:Yeah. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968228)

20 miles isn't far for a 32 megawatt laser I think. 32 megawatts is a lot.

Re:Yeah. (2, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968236)

>> And what if it's a cloudy day?

Crank up Dark Side of the Moon and spark one?

Re:Yeah. (2, Informative)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968312)

FTFS:

"The technology is apparently mature enough to be deployed as part of ships' short-range missile defenses"

Re:Yeah. (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968336)

And what if it's a cloudy day?

Lots of steam?

Re:Yeah. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968440)

Presumably, the reason for replacing 20mm Gatling guns with lasers is, ultimately, about missiles. 20mm DU rounds, in quantity, move pretty fast compared to aircraft; but substantially less fast than one would like compared to decent missiles. Photons, while they lack the punch, are much zippier...

Now, since the only reason to adopt this(no doubt more expensive and power hungry) system is that offers hope against missiles, why testing against UAVs? Well, if I were an optimist, I would say that this is just one of the tests in the development process. If I were a pessimist, I would say that the fine folks at Raytheon are following in the time-honored tradition of anti-missile systems, and responding to the fact that the problem is hard by moving the goalposts until their system is up to the "task"...

Hopefully, well before deployment, it will see proper "red team"/"green team" type testing, where the opposing force, made up of the most devious and talented people at their disposal, is free to try every sneaky, optically confusing, silver plated, ablative armor protected, etc. hypothetical near future threat that they can come up with against the system. A very valuable learning exercise....

Re:Yeah. (4, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968698)

This offers far less hope against missile swarms and fast cruise missiles then lead-spewing kinetic weapons. With this you need to affect a single point on the missile from the front for quite some time to get results. If it's a fast cruise missile with mach3-mach5 terminal approach, laser is useless - it simply won't have enough time to do damage. So is kinetic CIWS. Missile based CIWS has a chance as it can engage at decent range and score a one shot kill.

Against swarms, this is even worse. You have to burn every individual missile, retarget and burn next one. Even if by some stroke of luck you succeed in this titanic task and can get missile terminated in say 3 seconds of burning it (completely impossible with laser as weak in tests), all that opponent needs to do to counter it is to program missile to go into a spin in terminal stage, making it impossible to focus at a single point of the missile. Or install a high-albedo tip. Or just attack in a stormy weather where laser energy will dissipate into water droplets long before it hits the missile.

Kinetic CIWS like phalanx/kashtan on the other hand actually have a decent chance of shooting slow and small missiles of this kind down, as they can usually kill a missile in one-two hits and are largely unaffected by weather conditions. Missile CIWS are better, but tend to get overloaded with sheer numbers.

All in all, this is just a PR stunt to show US taxpayers that their money is spent on yet another hollywood-style toy with little room for real life applications. This is a weapon for space age and space warfare where weather does not exist and laser can be effective at far greater ranges.

Re:Yeah. (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968452)

One of the biggest concerns is that in a war with China or North Korea they would swarm our aircraft carriers with airplanes and missiles. Developing something like this to counter the asymmetric warfare would be huge.

Re:Yeah. (3, Insightful)

ilo.v (1445373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968744)

...counter the asymmetric warfare ...

"Swarm[ing] our aircraft carriers with airplanes and missiles" is NOT "asymmetric" warfare. That is your basic nation to nation warfare, where someone has the guts and sense of honor to fight in compliance with the rules of the Geneva Convention. Asymmetric warfare would be someone floating a civilian boat up the the warship and setting off a suicide bomb. Google "USS Cole (DDG 67) on October 12, 2000" for an example.

Re:Yeah. (0, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968470)

"What you do is stand off 20 miles and shoot a missile at the ship.

So an anti-plane laser is not all that useful. And what if it's a cloudy day?"

No chance the Navy envisioned those conditions as a possibility, nope, none. Falkland Islands, where are they?

Powered by wind (3, Funny)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968220)

The best part is the Siemens Wind Energy Advertisment before the video. Apparently a with a few Windmills and a laser. Pew, Pew, Pew, we can finally have a green war!

Megawatts? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968234)

The article says kilowatts.

32 kilowatt!!! (5, Informative)

Dios (83038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968240)

32 kW, not MW, thats kilowatt, not megawatt.

Re:32 kilowatt!!! (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968324)

32 kW, not MW, thats kilowatt, not megawatt.

I was about to comment that the SSDG's on a Ticonderoga class cruiser wouldn't quite be able to handle a load that size. 32 kW on the other hand, that's certainly doable. A Nimitz class carrier reactor could probably handle the 32 MW strain but that would put a crimp on other operations, I'd assume.

Re:32 kilowatt!!! (2, Informative)

Dios (83038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968454)

I'd be very curious to know the output of the units on a nimitz class carrier.

and after a quick wiki article..

two 104 MWe units. Very nice.

Re:32 kilowatt!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968776)

And why don't we deploy those kind of units in the municipal power grid?

What's an order of magnitude? (1)

jfoobaz (1844794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968432)

Eh, megawatt, kilowatt, what's an order of magnitude or 3? We're talking lasers here.

Re:32 kilowatt!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968468)

Hanlon's corollary, part 2:

Never ascribed to stupidity that which is adequately explained by kdawson.

32 megaWHAT?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968492)

FTFY

Re:32 kilowatt!!! (1)

DotSlashReader (1812462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968548)

I think you mean 1.21 Gigawatts.... Seriously though, he's right, TFA does say kilowatts.

Fricken ships! (2, Funny)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968246)

Fricken ships! With Frickin laser beams!

Re:Fricken ships! (4, Interesting)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968706)

Laser beams AND rail guns. The USN is on the verge of becoming a very "SciFi" weapons platform. If everything takes twice as long as planned then by 2020 you're going to see USN ships equipped with both weapons systems. Rail Guns firing projectiles at OTH targets at 5600MPH and handling close in threats with Phalanx CIWS upgraded with LASERS.

This IS the future.

The Navy should be warned before deployment (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968252)

Pointing lasers at aircraft might get the navy arrested.

Alternative use: Laser launch vehicle (1)

tarpitcod (822436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968286)

Is this thing single use? Could we string 10 of these together and use it for laser launch vehicles out in the middle of the pacific?

Numerous advantages (4, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968288)

There are numerous advantages to using lasers instead of traditional weapons:

*) Longer range
*) Better accuracy
*) Unlimited ammunition
*) No pollution from spent weapons

Re:Numerous advantages (4, Funny)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968392)

Yes, it's all fun and games until the enemy brings out... gasp! ... Mirrors!

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968494)

One problem is that the reflected, scattered light can still be very harmful, easily blinding. I think the light can be blocked the eye with special goggles, but there's bound to be mistakes even when testing it.

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968820)

I think the light can be blocked the eye with special goggles, but there's bound to be mistakes even when testing it.

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

Re:Numerous advantages (3, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968510)

Perfect mirrors, with not a single imperfection that will melt them in a microsecond, which are completely dust free in spite of being outdoors.

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

chronosan (1109639) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968610)

I was under the impression that they used mirrors to aim the laser, is this not true?

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968682)

Yes, they do. 100% CLEAN and specially made. Have ANY imperfections on them and the 32 MW beam will blow them to pieces in short order. Now, how many mirrors are on a boat or a plane have 100% cleanliness (not a spec of dust on them) and have ZERO imperfections in them?

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968666)

Your comment should be modded funny, not insightful. The kind of mirror you can realistically bring to a battlefield is not going to protect you from a 32KW laser aimed in your direction.

Re:Numerous advantages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968716)

What about my +5 greased shield of reflection?

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968722)

Mirrors schmirrors. A 1 tonne slug of lead dropped from 50,000ft at Mach 3 would have enough energy to sink an aircraft carrier, and there's nothing even these lasers could do about it - even ablation would barely change the projectile mass.

Re:Numerous advantages (5, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968424)

*) Longer range

Not really. Lasers are strongly attenuated in air, especially in the humid air in marine environments. Trying to get around this problem is the reason we're just getting weapons like this now, as opposed to thirty years ago, and even now they're limited to short ranges.

*) Better accuracy

Yes and no. In order to heat up the target's surface enough to cause destruction, you either need to focus the laser on the exact same spot for long enough time, or just crank the power up and/or widen the beam enough so that it doesn't matter. The first has proven almost impossible, and so we've resorted to the second.

*) Unlimited ammunition

No. There are two kinds of lasers in consideration by the military: chemical and solid-state. Chemical lasers need tons of (duh) chemicals to form the reaction that generates the laser light, and when you run out, you're done shooting. Solid-state lasers require heavy amounts of electricity, which needs to come from somewhere.

*) No pollution from spent weapons

Again, no. Chemical lasers leave behind highly toxic waste products when the reactants are expended; that's the main reason why they're not in heavy use in the military today. Solid-state lasers leave behind pollution from whatever power source you use to generate the electricity.

I'm not saying lasers are awful tools, they're certainly useful in specific applications. But they're not the Wunderwaffen you're making them out to be.

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

saider (177166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968426)


*) Longer range
*) Better accuracy
*) Unlimited ammunition
*) No pollution from spent weapons

*) Standard missiles can engage targets 50-100 miles away. Power on the laser is diminished the farther you go, making it practical for close in targets.

*) Accuracy is better due to zero flight time. I wouldn't want to be behind the target, tho. I'm sure that the tracking is not 100%.

*) Ammo is limited by the fuel on the ship.

*) Just a big cloud of exhaust from the stacks.

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968536)

*) Standard missiles can engage targets 50-100 miles away. Power on the laser is diminished the farther you go, making it practical for close in targets.

Not to mention the line-of-sight problem as introduced by the curvature of the earth -- if laser defense gets to be a big thing, someone will start making missiles which hug the ocean/ground.

Re:Numerous advantages (2, Funny)

Krau Ming (1620473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968490)

you forgot less kickback when fired...at least that's what happens in goldeneye 007 for N64 when i got the moonraker laser.

Re:Numerous DISadvantages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968496)

- it takes 10 to 30 seconds to burn a hole,
- can't handle more then one aircraft at the same time (if they had more power on board they would have way more then 32kW beam),
- easy to target - follow the light to the slow moving ship,
- you need atomic energy on board to drive it.

Re:Numerous advantages (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968538)

Longer range & Better accuracy

How do you figure? A laser can be disbursed by the atmosphere like any other light wave and just because it travels in straight line does not mean that it can effectively hit that target. Unless the airplane is flying in a straight line, it can miss just like anything else. Guided missiles are effective in that it gets close enough to the target to limit the targets options for evasion. Unless you have some super computer that perfectly track a moving target the whole this is total BS.

Unlimited ammunition

A laser would require energy, how much energy, I don't know how much but I doubt it is a pair of double AA are powering the thing so lets not pretend it has unlimited ammunition.

You also ignore the obvious, projectile weapons are going to be easier to maintain. A laser? Who the hell knows? This is not Star Wars it is just fantasy crap.

Re:Numerous advantages (2, Informative)

electron sponge (1758814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968680)

A laser would require energy, how much energy, I don't know how much but I doubt it is a pair of double AA are powering the thing so lets not pretend it has unlimited ammunition.

32 kW according to the fine article, and if the laser is mounted on a carrier it will be a pair of Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors powering it. The number of shots one of these things could fire won't be limited by the power plant, that's for sure. On a cruiser or destroyer it will be powered by the ship's service diesel generators. Sure, the ship could run out of JP5, but at that point it's dead in the water anyway because that's what the gas turbines that turn the screws run on as well. Long story short the power source is the last thing we'd need to worry about.

Re:Numerous advantages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968726)

Actually, lasers are much easier to target things with - because light moves near instantly, and bullets have travel time. With UA rounds vs Missiles you have to lead the missile, and missiles are smart enough to do wierd shit to make that difficult. With a laser - so long as you aim at it, even just for a fraction of a second, it's a hit.

Also and much more importantly, actually using lasers rather than just talking about it forever is a massive mind game - it's like bringing a gatling gun to a 17th century line infantry battle - it says "we are centuries past your technology, resistance is futile"

32 megawatt lasers definitely don't have unlimited ammunition though, not currently - we need some big developments in DC storage mediums before that occurs. That doesn't happen though without funding - and one of the big first steps to that is saying "ok we have a laser, it's awesome, it fucks shit up, but it can only shoot 10 times before it recharges - we don't have room for a bigger battery on the boat - now make us a better battery.

And then finally we have military funding for something we (humanity) should have been hard at work on after the space race, because right now batteries are the weakest link in all of our technology moving forward - our batteries haven't significantly changed since

Re:Numerous advantages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968826)

There are numerous advantages to using lasers instead of traditional weapons:

*) Longer range

Inquiring minds like to know: Is longer range really an advantage for Close-In Defense?

Man whatnow? (3, Funny)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968294)

Man the laser-harpoons!

Paint the Target (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968298)

Seems like they had to hold the laser on the target for a long time until it worked. If you can keep a laser beam on target that long, you might as well use the laser to guide an effective, high explosive round to it.

Re:Paint the Target (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968464)

Seems like they had to hold the laser on the target for a long time until it worked. If you can keep a laser beam on target that long, you might as well use the laser to guide an effective, high explosive round to it.

Depending on the duty cycle of the parts in the weapon laser vs. a painting laser, it could well be far more efficient, from a logistical point of view, to use this system than to expend some consumable weapon guided by a painting laser. Never underestimate the importance of logistics.

It also could be more reliable, as you just have to keep the laser operating and on target, rather than keep a laser operating and on target and avoid a failure in the launching, propulsion, guidance, or warhead system of the separate passive-laser homing missile. Given the consequence of failure with you point defense system, even small differences in reliability can be a big deal.

Re:Paint the Target (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968482)

If you can keep a laser beam on target that long, you might as well use the laser to guide an effective, high explosive round to it.

Sounds like faulty reasoning to me. For one thing, there are many values for "a long time." If you have to hold the guidance laser on the target for 30 seconds, but the defense laser for 20 seconds, those are both non-instantaneous, but when you're talking about an enemy aircraft trying to bomb you, I'd assume that's a world of difference. Also seems like we might not want missiles certain situations, like maybe when the enemy aircraft are in close proximity to friendly aircraft. I'd also expect the effective distance would be different Maybe the lasers have a wider effective range, closer, farther, or both? Are the sea sparrows they're replacing laser guided?

Lastly, I don't know much about laser guidance systems, but couldn't there be countermeasures for laser guidance that wouldn't be possible for a laser boring through the plane? Seems like a plane shining a laser off of itself might be able to redirect the missile, wheras the plane would need to be coated in a very good mirror to deflect the laser?

Re:Paint the Target (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968556)

Re-pointing a laser: not so much work
Re-pointing a missile traveling at mach 3, especially after passing the target: hard

Re:Paint the Target (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968738)

For airplanes, the chance of a plain old normal bullet hitting the target is near zero, so you'll need a missile. Now pick: a missile that costs $5000 - $50000 or electricity that costs, let's see... 32 kilowatts / 10% efficiency (some of these numbers are guesses, but it's probably within an order of magnitude) * 20 seconds * $1 per kilowatt hour = $1.78.

Well, that's exciting (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968302)

As a military contractor, I encourage the addition of new systems onto NATO ships.

As a Mechwarrior fan, I say bring on the Clan-LAMS. 1d6 heat?

er? (1)

ceraphis (1611217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968314)

How long was I asleep? TFS sounds like it could be properly used to discuss weapons systems of interstellar fighters.

Only a few orders of magnitude off... (5, Informative)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968320)

From the summary:

...shows the 32-megawatt solid-state laser...

From TFA:

...which is made up of six solid-state lasers with an output of 32 kilowatts that simultaneously focus on a target.

As my stat mech professor once said, "but hey, what's a few orders of magnitude between friends?"

Re:Only a few orders of magnitude off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968520)

Was your stat mech professor A. J. Shaka?

What if it's foggy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32968334)

Wouldn't fog refract the laser beam and make this useless? It's foggy often at sea.

Re:What if it's foggy? (2, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968436)

It would if the power involved wouldn't instantly cause any suspended water molecules to careen off to some other place than that occupied by the laser. When you're dealing with things that are powerful enough to bring down aircraft and missiles, some water vapor isn't a big problem. It's not the same as the headlights on your car.

broadside (1)

iveygman (1303733) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968340)

All I can picture is one of the only good parts of Star Wars Episode 3: the opening battle where star destroyers and CIS ships are broadsiding each other with lasers.

Re:broadside (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968562)

I know I saw that movie but I really have no memory of it.

COOL!

Priorities (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968368)

Nice. So, we don't have money for the unemployed, for the ill, or even for veterans benefits, but we can afford laser systems to shoot down planes for imaginary invasions.

Seventy percent of the defense industry is a private set of corporations whose economic incentive is to discover (or invent) threats, and then sell the government the contract to fight this imaginary enemy. Sounds like a nice recipe for solutions that exacerbate the underlying problems, and not by accident [go.com] .

Re:Priorities (0, Troll)

gatzby3jr (809590) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968446)

So - we should just give the money to the people without jobs?

These kind of projects also employ people (such as the people at Raytheon working on it), giving them healthcare benefits, which in turn they then get taxed on as well.

Ehhh... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968720)

Mods, do you so easily fall for broken window fallacy?

Hey, I've got an idea, let's just give money to groups who say that what they do will get rid of the probem of unemployed / undesirables. One calling their product "Soylent Green" seems legit.

Re:Priorities (1, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968782)

So - we should just give the money to the people without jobs?

      Only if you want a line millions of people long once they hear you are handing out free money. No, I think the point is the government shouldn't have the money in the first place. Perhaps if the people who create the jobs had a little more money (in the form of paying a little less taxes), they'd be able to create more jobs.

      But then again what do I care. It's not as if I pay income tax anyway. Thank god I'm not a US citizen - no matter where you guys live you have to pay for crap like this, it's the law.

Re:Priorities (-1, Troll)

TCPhotography (1245814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968486)

With the proliferation of large Anti-ship cruise missiles to non-state actors (see Hezbollah). The threat to American forces deployed around the globe is rising. Then again, I'm going to guess that you are some lefty pacifist, and thus only worthy of derision and scorn.

Re:Priorities (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968532)

A corrupt defense industry is one thing, but opponents who would like to destroy warships date back thousands of years.

Ships are (very) high value targets, which obviously merit beam weapons to defend against attack, and particularly so as UAV systems proliferate.

Re:Priorities (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968534)

well, the unemployed, veterans and the ill could build, man and be targets for these devices if they had even the slightest motivation to be useful.

Re:Priorities (0, Flamebait)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968634)

Nice. So, we don't have money for the unemployed, for the ill, or even for veterans benefits, but we can afford laser systems to shoot down planes for imaginary invasions.

Valid point. Perhaps Raytheon could instead develop a means to launch the unemployed, ill, and benefit-needing veterans at incoming airborn objects.

I think I'll remain both a non-socialist and proponent of science, and back the laser system.

Re:Priorities (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968730)

Valid point. Perhaps Raytheon could instead develop a means to launch the unemployed, ill, and benefit-needing veterans at incoming airborn objects.

      You missed the point. I believe the argument was: WHAT incoming airborne objects?

Re:Priorities (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968684)

Your description could apply to all kinds of things equally well.

Homeland Defense - First invent an imaginary enemy, then enact all kinds of policies, surveillance, and counter-measures to defend against it.

Consultants - Invent an inefficiency in an industry then sell services, software, and plans to work around it.

Home Cleaning Products Industry - Note that something might be dirty/infested and sell people the product to clean it.

Question... (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968390)

I don't know much about lasers so perhaps someone can answer this:

If I were to make a missile/plane/uav with a chrome coating, something mirror-like and reflective, would the laser still work?

Re:Question... (0)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968442)

No, this extremely expensive laser system can be defeated by shiny surfaces or by smoke, or even fog for that matter. But don't worry - these are being deployed out at sea where there is never any fog...

Re:Question... (2, Informative)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968712)

I'm not a physicist but its effectiveness isn't entirely based on the substance it's shooting at but also the frequency of the laser. In other words just because you have a mirror which reflects visible light doesn't mean it will reflect infrared or another frequency range. Granted a laser only has one frequency.

Re:Question... (3, Informative)

slater.jay (1839748) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968506)

I am not an optical physicist, but my understanding is that it goes something like this: even a very effective mirror isn't reflective enough to avoid absorbing a bunch of energy, which damages your mirrored coating, which leads to a faster rate of heat transfer, and so on.

Re:Question... (5, Funny)

xmousex (661995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968516)

the shark will still bite you though but nice try

Re:Question... (2, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968518)

If I were to make a missile/plane/uav with a chrome coating, something mirror-like and reflective, would the laser still work?

The usual response here on Slashdot is that since most of the mirror surfaces you're likely to get are irregular/imperfect, the heat from the laser would likely ablate (burn off) any mirror coating you have before it would do what you're thinking. In the case of chrome, it's not a perfect mirror, and it wouldn't work.

I think you would need a very perfect mirror surface, and even then I get the impression it wouldn't have the desired effect.

Other options... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968656)

Oh well, so use lightweight ablative coating. With the typical times of flybys / warning before missile hit, that shouldn't be much of a problem. For some bonus points, make the coating release a barrier (in whatever form - aerosol, plasma, who cares as long as it works)

Real bonus points: add retroreflectors; they might work only for a short time and reflect only a small part of incoming radiation...but there's bound to be something delicate on the other end. For that matter - how hard millions of toy balloons with small retro- and ordinary reflectors scattered in the area can be?..."99 Luftabaloons" might have been prophetic, in a way ;)

Mirrored surfaces (1)

Elfich47 (703900) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968714)

I am assuming the sensor package on the missile will be pointed toward the ship it is supposed to attack. So painting a mirrored surface on the missile may not help the missile's sensor package.
In addition the laser doesn't need to destroy the missile. It only needs to destroy enough of the missile so that it falls out of the sky.

Re:Question... (1)

TCPhotography (1245814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968530)

It would buy you maybe another tenth of a second in dwell time. After that, the chrome has broken down due to heat, and then the material just fails. This happens because even astronomical mirrors don't reflect all of the incident light, thus some of the incoming light is converted to heat, which reduces the reflectivity. Now you've got a feedback loop where the heat causes more heat. Not long after that the base material fails - and can fail spectacularly.

Re:Question... (2, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968544)

hoggoth's reply is snarky, but mostly accurate. They say it won't matter, but it depends on how fast you expect the laser to work. The chrome would reduce the effectiveness at first, but if the laser can remain trained on the same part of the target, then any microscopic flaws or dust on the chrome would heat up, causing the chrome to heat up, causing the chrome to become less reflective, and ultimately, doom.

Re:Question... (1)

chronosan (1109639) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968678)

Please sit still while I pelt you with this LASER.

Re:Question... (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968600)

Well, depends on the wavelength of laser light.

Let's keep it orderly... (1)

greengene (165883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968414)

Red lasers on one side, blue lasers on the other. I keep forgetting which is which...

Re:Let's keep it orderly... (4, Funny)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968692)

Red lasers on one side, blue lasers on the other. I keep forgetting which is which...

It's red lasers on the port side, green lasers on the starboard side showing from dead ahead to 2 points abaft of the beam. I thought everyone knew that.

Warships aren't cost effective (1)

sheddd (592499) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968514)

If they have to defend against Anti-Ship Missles [wikipedia.org] ; perhaps lasers can do a better job of defending against 20 missiles coming in at mach 2.5.

Yes but... (4, Funny)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968552)

Can it make popcorn?

I see a great need... (4, Funny)

Megane (129182) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968580)

I see a great need for a UAV-mounted Jiffy Pop module.

It is a moral imperative.

Navy's answer to Chinese Anti-Carrier Missile (2, Interesting)

times05 (1683662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968670)

Chinese have developed and are testing the Dong Feng 21D missile, capable of accurately targeting and hitting a moving navy Aircraft Carrier from 2000 miles away. US experts are scared. Since capabilities of this missile are not fully known to US Navy, their strategy to combat it currently is SM-3 interceptor rockets launched from Aegis destroyers and cruisers that escort Aircraft Carriers.

Problem with that is that the reloading capacity of these Aegis equipped ships isn't fast enough to protect against a volley of Dong Feng 21Ds. So they are pretty much screwed. Currently Aircraft Carriers are the most effective way of projecting current US air superiority anywhere in the world. Imagine the implications of a bunch of US carriers being sunk.

This laser defense system may be Navy's answer to this new missile threat.

Re:Navy's answer to Chinese Anti-Carrier Missile (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968780)

This laser defense system may be Navy's answer to this new missile threat.

And it would likely take a lot less money to develop a laser defense than it would cost to build even one more Aegis ship. Besides, San Diego Bay is already overcrowded with them--you can't even take a day out on the water in a small boat without having to dodge at least a couple of those fuckers.

I see a sudden surge of demand in the Navy... (1)

mercx (316918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968702)

...for protective eyewear.

Also:
"We have enemy contact, everybody put on your shadesss..."

Defense against robots - but how many? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968770)

This might be useful against drone attacks in small numbers, but the recharge rate between firings may limit it to very small numbers on days when the attacking missile, drone, or converted suicide Chinese aircraft (Taiwan says they have many hundreds of thousands aimed at them) are flying in a straight pattern on a clear day where you have clear line of sight.

In other words, most of the time it won't work against a large-scale planned assault mixed in with planes piloted by humans, or even human-operated drones (pretty cheap).

But it might be useful against terrorist attacks and small rogue nations like Burma.

did anyone else count 15 seconds ? (1)

RationalRoot (746945) | more than 4 years ago | (#32968824)

If it takes 15 seconds to knock down an unhardened target in perfect conditions, then nice science project, but you guys have still got work to do.

Off the top of my head,

a) Reflective surfaces
b) dispersing reflective particles from the aircraft as soon as a laser is detected
c) ditto, thick smoke
d) attack when it's raining

Add any of these, and it might take 1 minutes to bring down a bad guy,

How far will a missile travel in 1 minute at (how fast is a ship to ship missile any how ?)

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