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Navy To Deploy Lasers On Ship In 2014

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the point-and-click dept.

The Military 402

Velcroman1 writes "The Pentagon has plans to deploy its first ever ship-mounted laser next year, a disruptive, cutting-edge weapon capable of obliterating small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles with a blast of infrared energy. Navy officials announced Monday that in early 2014, a solid-state laser prototype will be mounted to the fantail of the USS Ponce and sent to the 5th fleet region in the Middle East for real-world experience. 'It operates much like a blowtorch ... with an unlimited magazine,' one official said."

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with frickin' lasers! (4, Funny)

ChipMonk (711367) | about a year ago | (#43395231)

Next up, sharks.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43395245)

Next up, sharks.

What makes you think they won't name the series of Laser gunboats after sharks?

Re:with frickin' lasers! (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43395571)

What makes you think they won't name the series of Laser gunboats after sharks?

Because the only cool names in the military are on the unit patches the soldiers wear. Everything else is an acronym for something that sounds like a Terminator T-1000 accessory.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43395717)

What makes you think they won't name the series of Laser gunboats after sharks?

Because the only cool names in the military are on the unit patches the soldiers wear. Everything else is an acronym for something that sounds like a Terminator T-1000 accessory.

Not so. During WW II the submarines were named for fish. That was fairly cool.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (4, Funny)

Dins (2538550) | about a year ago | (#43395783)

Not so. During WW II the submarines were named for fish. That was fairly cool.

Until you get deployed to the SS Flounder...

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395751)

Uh.

F-14 "Tomcat"
F-15 "Eagle"
F-16 "Fighting Falcon"
F-18 "Hornet"

"Seawolf" class submarines
"Aegis" missile cruisers
Etc., etc., etc. .... so .... really?

Re:with frickin' lasers! (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | about a year ago | (#43395765)

They made sure no one would confuse the F-16 with those other Falcons that don't fight.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2)

rockout (1039072) | about a year ago | (#43395855)

The pilots of those actual Falcons never called their fighters by the AF-approved name. They called it the Viper.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395821)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Shark

Re:with frickin' lasers! (1)

RoboRay (735839) | about a year ago | (#43395823)

Because the only cool names in the military are on the unit patches the soldiers wear. Everything else is an acronym for something that sounds like a Terminator T-1000 accessory.

You mean like HMS Cockchafer?

Re:with frickin' lasers! (1)

dunng808 (448849) | about a year ago | (#43395265)

What, no photon torpedoes?

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43395283)

navy isn't interested in those... they don't work on the borg

Re:with frickin' lasers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395425)

Amateur. Sharks are just stupid fish. The US Navy uses dolphins [wikipedia.org] .

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2, Interesting)

JavaTHut (9877) | about a year ago | (#43395599)

Next up, sharks.

Erm, nope. Next up, Somali Pirates with mirrors

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43395797)

Next up, sharks.

Erm, nope. Next up, Somali Pirates with mirrors

Really BIG and thick mirrors that are tuned to the IR spectrum.... coating the boat in aluminum foil or holding up a shaving mirror's not going to do the trick here. Calling this thing a flame thrower is actually pretty apt; you'd need an equivalent heat shield to deflect it.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43395839)

In reality, a 99.9% effective glass mirror hit with 10,000 Watts will "absorb" 10W of heat in a very thin film not designed for withstanding direct heating . It'll quickly char and become useless as a mirror.

More effective of a system would be a water-cooled hull of shiny metal. And what happens if you spray a fire-hose directly at the laser? You'll heat water, but not get much heat to the intended target. I don't see the laser being very effective against ships. It talks mainly about aerial targets, but also ships. No idea how effective it would be against countermeasures.

Re:with frickin' lasers! (1)

GaratNW (978516) | about a year ago | (#43395809)

I just can't get over the "USS Ponce" [urbandictionary.com] .

Not unexpected (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43395233)

A fleet of these and all the missiles North Korea wants to waggle at the US will mean nothing.

Re:Not unexpected (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#43395279)

>> A fleet of these and all the missiles North Korea wants to waggle at the US will mean nothing.

Unless the missles work. Or the lasers don't.

Re: Not unexpected (3, Informative)

waimate (147056) | about a year ago | (#43395317)

From TFA: "close in" and "slow moving". So as long as the North Koreans can arrange to have their rockets hover over US ships on clear days, yeah, nothing to worry about at all.

Re: Not unexpected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395559)

From TFA: "close in" and "slow moving". So as long as the North Koreans can arrange to have their rockets hover over US ships on clear days, yeah, nothing to worry about at all.

"close in" in the context of modern naval warfare probably means "you need line of sight to the target". Slow moving likely means that it can't be used as an effective replacement for things like Phalanx or to shoot down fighter planes, which currently use guns (though point defense like that is one of the theoretical uses of a ship-based laser).

On the other hand it would solve one of the main problems facing modern warships by resolving the debate over "firing a million dollar missile at a hundred dollar pirate craft".

Re: Not unexpected (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43395669)

Exactly, lasers just can't deliver enough energy fast enough to take out missiles or anything but the slowest aircraft. Range is also a major problem because the light is refracted and dissipated in the atmosphere. It's a demonstration of the technology, with the hope that it can be developed into something more useful.

As for NK's missiles, if they have the range to hit the US then they are virtually impossible to stop. Shooting down ICBMs is pretty much impossible to do reliably, unless you are able to somehow hit them all during the boost phase. Even then you wouldn't want to rely on that capability to protect your cities.

Re:Not unexpected (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year ago | (#43395489)

There is a world of difference between a close, slow small boat and a ballistic missile. Even if NK have made the worst possible missiles they won't be close enough or slow enough for this to have any effect whatsoever.

Re:Not unexpected (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43395505)

TFA(although horribly light on details) specifically mentions that these devices are too feeble and short ranged to pose any threat to such larger missiles. TFA also expresses uncertainty about hitting fast moving targets(I'd hope that the tracking capabilities are at least not-worse than existing CIWS hardware; but if it takes several seconds to set the target on fire, that would entail a greater delay...)

In fact, short of being a tech demo for something that might eventually be mature, it isn't entirely clear what this system can do that any of the better regarded WWII-era light cannon(retrofitted with modern targeting systems) couldn't...

Re:Not unexpected (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#43395601)

In fact, short of being a tech demo for something that might eventually be mature, it isn't entirely clear what this system can do that any of the better regarded WWII-era light cannon(retrofitted with modern targeting systems) couldn't...

What it can do is not run out of ammo.

CIWS has 1550 rounds in its magazine - about 20 seconds of fire. At which point you'd better be praying that the other side doesn't have anymore missiles to toss at you, since you can't reload a CIWS quickly....

Re:Not unexpected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395893)

And how much juice does this thing's capacitor banks store? How long does it take to recharge them? How long can it be fired before overheating?

Ponce is an amphibious transport dock. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Ponce_(LPD-15)

Maybe this thing does just divert a nominal amount of power from the engines and have water cooling, so it can fire forever. Maybe not.

Re:Not unexpected (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about a year ago | (#43395653)

Sharks jealous, news at 11

Re:Not unexpected (0, Troll)

Catbeller (118204) | about a year ago | (#43395529)

Easier to deliver a bomb on a U-Haul. We need to let the Sixties go. Da Missiles aren't the big threat every was told to fear, never were. Bombs are small. You can put them anywhere. Don't need Rocket Boy to deliver them.

The world didn't die by fire because the world isn't suicidal. And frankly, only the US was determined to end all life on Earth, to insure Karl Marx would never win. Death before decapitalization, I guess.

Re:Not unexpected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395657)

Apparently not determined enough, right? Maybe they just forgot where the launch codes are for 60 years.

Re:Not unexpected (1)

RoboRay (735839) | about a year ago | (#43395861)

Clinton only lost the launch codes for a few months.

They got it all wrong. (1)

filmorris (2466940) | about a year ago | (#43395247)

The suggested way to deploy a laser is this [deviantart.net] .

Re:They got it all wrong. (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43395307)

Well, I brought my dinosaur who eats laser sharks!

Small Boats (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#43395255)

Somali pirates begin to feel the heat. Original recipe or extra crispy.

Re:Small Boats (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43395319)

if a stealth jet can be brought down with mobile phone technology, it will be interesting to see what kind of countermeasures get used against this ...such as a mirror maybe?

Re:Small Boats (2)

BSAtHome (455370) | about a year ago | (#43395415)

A spray of water will probably do just fine to capture the bulk of the energy and convert it to vapor. The on-board fire-extinguisher can be used, simply pointing it at the attacker.

Re:Small Boats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395807)

When working on lasers at that power, it is difficult to not break mirrors during development with unfocused laser light. If focusing the laser at all, or even just uneven hot spots once it reaches the target, and shiny surface will quickly become damaged in fraction of a second even with only a tiny amount of reflection. And typically the damaged spots have much higher absorption than undamaged, so if you maintain exposure for more than a second, a shiny surface won't make much of a difference. Heat conduction/sinking and thermal mass would get you further.

Re:Small Boats (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43395897)

Given how thin the reflective layer on a mirror is, I suspect the less-than-100% reflectivity would translate into minimal protection in very short order. On the other hand, given the relatively low rate of energy delivery(this isn't a sci-fi laser that just slices effortlessly through stuff, it needs to be focused for several seconds), I wouldn't be entirely surprised if some pretty dodgy water-cooling arrangements would (between direct cooling, and generating a cloud of vapor and droplets that would scatter and attenuate the incoming beam before it strikes the target surface) work embarrassingly well at protecting something like an outboard motor: An outer covering of multiple layers of sackcloth or the like, with a little pump dumping water on top such that it flows more or less evenly over the surface. With water's rather high specific heat, and adequate enthalpy of vaporization, a pretty weedy pump with access to seawater could neutralize a nontrivial amount of surface heating.

Aircraft, of course, would have to use a different strategy, since water would be excessively heavy; but they have the advantage of both moving faster, and of opting for a trajectory where losing power means gliding/falling onto their assailant...

Re:Small Boats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395373)

Begin? They already felt the heat from the toxic and radioactive waste dumped on their shores.

Re:Small Boats (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43395541)

A 50 cal (and analogous weapons in metric) is sufficient heat for pirates. So why are there still pirates?

Re:Small Boats (2)

Catbeller (118204) | about a year ago | (#43395583)

The ocean is big, and pirates are very small. Hard to spot. Sort of like muggers; not many, but they pop up anywhere. Also, Somali businessmen are financing theses operations for profit - ransom is lucrative. This isn't about kids on a boat. This is big business (while it lasts).

Re:Small Boats (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43395793)

Exactly. As I see it, this isn't a technology problem else we would have solved it long ago. I don't see lasers making much of a difference over current technology in fighting (or as the case may be, not fighting) pirates.

My guess is that this is merely a technology demonstration stepping stone. The lasers will probably be upgraded at some point so that they can take out aircraft and missiles.

Re:Small Boats (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43395587)

Unless they carry mirrors.

An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

lcam (848192) | about a year ago | (#43395261)

I wonder why they went with Infra-red frequency light.

Seems to me that some higher-energy, shorter wavelength frequency would be more efficient. Something like a blue or violet laser, as they use in certain industrial apps. Better yet would be a laser in the UV frequencies.

Maybe the it's an inaccuracy in the article?

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (2)

onkelonkel (560274) | about a year ago | (#43395323)

Defense contractor - "Which laser should we install?"

Navy "What do they do?"

Defense contractor - "The first one will light your enemies on fire and incinerate them. The second one one will give your enemies a nasty sunburn"

Navy - "The first one"

Actually, I'd be curious to know why they use IR.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (2)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about a year ago | (#43395459)

CO2 Laser technology @t 10 microns is well-known and already massively used for cutting machines in the range of 6-12KW, or even more, for the industry.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395619)

Except the article mentions that the laser is solid-state.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395705)

Solid state Nd:YAG and similar lasing media have a huge industrial backing and use. IR lasers are a rather mature technology, compared to some of the shorter wavelength lasers.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395517)

The reasons are simple - it is easy to build solid state IR lasers and hard to build solid state lasers at other wavelengths. The bandgaps of most of the convenient materials, which are easy to work with fall into the infrared region. This is also one of the reasons why do we use IR for fiber optic systems (850 nm, 1300 nm and 1550 nm).

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43395651)

I'd assume that the wavelength chosen represented a compromise between what team engineering could get to operate without catching fire and the wavelength that theory would expect to be transmitted most efficiently in the atmosphere(and, in a naval context, that probably means generous doses of water vapor and possibly aerosol droplets in addition to the usual oxygen/nitrogen).

Anybody more familiar than I with variations in transmission efficiency by frequency have a guess as to whether IR was chosen for good behavior, or because that is what they could get a solid state laser to do at sufficiently high power?

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395867)

I'm not familiar with transmission in air. Although, I am familiar with IR lasers, and the efficiency of existing IR laser technology would probably make it such that my guess is that transmission through air probably doesn't even factor into the decision as long as you avoid a couple bands where there is significant absorption. A 10% difference in transmission won't matter when the technology has an order of magnitude difference in power.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395377)

Fox News. My bet is on inaccuracy in the article.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395439)

AC. My bet is that no one gives shit what you think.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#43395395)

I'd guess that the ability to generate laser pulses with sufficient energy to destroy a boat while being small enough to not sink its transport would be a sufficiently difficult problem, that they decided not to make it harder by requiring wavelengths that they were currently not technically prepared for,

That, or the sharks refused to handle the other colors.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#43395397)

A bigger why, as far as I'm concerned, is why this is mounted in the fantail - the aft end of the boat - rather than in the front? Is a captain supposed to order the crew to "Turn tail and fire!"

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395413)

Higher frequencies get absorbed by the atmosphere more easily. By using IR they can reach a little further at the same power. If military lasers have followed consumer laser development IR is also a little more mature technology wise.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#43395429)

It's more complex than that. You want a laser in a frequency you can generate easily, focus well with optics, and that will not be absorbed by water vapor, gas, or dust. Higher frequencies don't necessarily net you any kind of energy efficiency yield (while per-photon energy is higher in higher frequency, you can just produce more photons for the same energy cost, so there is not efficiency gains from the physics). This [fas.org] [PDF warning] report gives quite a lot more technical details (including, yes, they do use IR), but not all of them.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | about a year ago | (#43395441)

It's probably due to scaling problems. Every type of Laser scales differently with regard to the power of the beam. Then there's the cooling and power supply.

Not to mention that the frequency doesn't really matter when you're pumping Kilowatts of energy towards the target - you want to melt the target, after all. And IR can do that just as well as UV.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395483)

Look for what wavelengths that solid state laser diodes have the most efficiency and you'll have your answer.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395519)

Probably using a DPSS [wikipedia.org] laser. Conversion to a different wavelength would mean inefficiency.

and, from (random googling to find it)

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-infrared-laser-diode.htm

"Wavelengths around 1,330 nanometers (nm) provide the least dispersion, while 1,550 nm allow the best transmissions [through the atmosphere]."

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (1)

nomel (244635) | about a year ago | (#43395629)

Maybe being invisible is a good thing, especially when you could try to reflect/douse the area in water if you saw where it was hitting.

You'd think all of this would be illegal under The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [wikipedia.org] .

I imagine everyone on board will be blinded. I also imagine blinding a whole crowd of spectators would only take one piece of shiny metal.

Re:An Infra-red laser? Why? (2)

Americano (920576) | about a year ago | (#43395923)

The convention you linked to specifically deals with laser weapons designed to blind - they're prohibited - and specifically omits other laser weapons which are not specifically designed to blind the target.

Yes, if your face happens to be in the path of this beam, you will probably be blinded - but that's really of minimal concern, because your head will probably also be incinerated in the process - this beam's purpose is to burn a hole in your aircraft/ship, and cause you to lose control and sink/crash.

How effective is it? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43395367)

TFA says:

Video released by the Navy shows the laser lock onto a slow-moving target, in this case an unmanned drone, which bursts aflame in mid-flight. The drone soon catches fire and crashes into the sea below.

But how well does it work against a fast moving target that's actively trying to evade a laser lock or even spinning to prevent a continued lock on any particular part of the target? Would a polished/mirrored skin work as a countermesure? How long does it need to be locked on the surface of the target to cause damage?

Re:How effective is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395477)

TFA says:

Video released by the Navy shows the laser lock onto a slow-moving target, in this case an unmanned drone, which bursts aflame in mid-flight. The drone soon catches fire and crashes into the sea below.

But how well does it work against a fast moving target that's actively trying to evade a laser lock or even spinning to prevent a continued lock on any particular part of the target? Would a polished/mirrored skin work as a countermesure? How long does it need to be locked on the surface of the target to cause damage?

I would guess that that information is classified.

Re:How effective is it? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43395545)

TFA says:

Video released by the Navy shows the laser lock onto a slow-moving target, in this case an unmanned drone, which bursts aflame in mid-flight. The drone soon catches fire and crashes into the sea below.

But how well does it work against a fast moving target that's actively trying to evade a laser lock or even spinning to prevent a continued lock on any particular part of the target? Would a polished/mirrored skin work as a countermesure? How long does it need to be locked on the surface of the target to cause damage?

I would guess that that information is classified.

Classified information, or is this a boondoggle "weapon system" that's deployed only because the military wants to claim that they are deploying a high tech weapon even if it's not effective against real threats under real combat conditions?

Re:How effective is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395687)

Is hawguy informative or is hawguy a boondoggle waste of time? Inquiring minds what to know!

Re:How effective is it? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43395763)

Is hawguy informative or is hawguy a boondoggle waste of time? Inquiring minds what to know!

How could I be "informative", all I did was ask questions - I provided no information.

If you're going to insult (?) someone, at least show that you've put some thought into it.

At best I could be tagged "insightful", but even that is dubious. Too bad there's no "skeptical" moderation flag. I was hoping that someone could point to some laser weapons tests that show that the obvious counter meaures are ineffective.

Re:How effective is it? (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#43395585)

Have they figured out how to stop a cohesive beam of light once it has missed the target? Didn't think so.

Re:How effective is it? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43395665)

Have they figured out how to stop a cohesive beam of light once it has missed the target? Didn't think so.

That's a good point, but it seems easier to predict what the laser is going to hit when it misses the target than 100 rounds/second of 20mm Phalanx rounds. I don't think the current lasers in the KW range are a danger to spacecraft, so if you can't see anything behind the target, it should be safe to shoot. But if you're close to shore and you fire your Phalanx guns toward shore, you might be raining Phalanx rounds onto a shoreside town.

Re:How effective is it? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#43395637)

or even spinning to prevent a continued lock on any particular part of the target

Well, THAT should be easy enough for the Iranian engineers to accomplish; all they need to do is equip their boats and UAV's with a single engine mounted off-axis... :p

Hmm ... (1)

daveime (1253762) | about a year ago | (#43395369)

Lasers ... cutting edge ... I see what you did there.

"obliterate".....I think not (1)

Chirs (87576) | about a year ago | (#43395461)

disable" or "damage" would be more accurate descriptions based on the article and photos.

Re:"obliterate".....I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395531)

Disable something that is flying while it is 35,000 feet up... most likely will end in obliteration.

Austerity in action (1, Funny)

Catbeller (118204) | about a year ago | (#43395465)

Government spending is bad, unless of course you are mounting infrared lasers on Navy ships to shoot down Zeroes. Banzai!

Austerity my tired buttocks. They just don't like that, what was it, 48%. Spending is good when you fund jobs programs that make layzers.

Next up: lasers on planes, which will make targeted assassinations done so much more quietly.

Re:Austerity in action (4, Interesting)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about a year ago | (#43395597)

Lets see:

CIWS ammo 1 second fire: ~$250
Solid State Laser: ~$1

Yeah, no reason at all for the new system....

Re:Austerity in action (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#43395647)

It costs $1 to shoot it. If Captain Ahmed is driving a small boat at your battleship, you can light it up with one of these for a lot cheaper, and with better results, than letting loose with a hundred grand worth of depleted uranium belt-fed minigun ammo from the Phalanx or something similar. You can use these just to smoke the outboard on Captain A's launch and then do with him what you will.

blowtorch has magazines? (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#43395471)

I always thought blowtorches has tanks of fuel, not magazines of fuel. Damn public school education!

Re:blowtorch has magazines? (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | about a year ago | (#43395633)

Well, we have a congresscritter who thinks that magazines are the things that come out of the end of the gun, so you're ahead of the curve.

Re:blowtorch has magazines? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395729)

I always thought blowtorches has tanks of fuel, not magazines of fuel. Damn public school education!

They meant assault blowtorches, which have removable magazines.

Re:blowtorch has magazines? (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year ago | (#43395733)

Well old-timer, when I attended public school in the 1960's and 1970's, we learned about this literary concept called the metaphor.
Funny thing about that metaphor trick, it wasn't new then, and it's still used today.

Damn public school education!

Indeed.

Safety (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43395491)

...capable of obliterating small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles with a blast of infrared energy.

And what will it do to people on those small boats, or if fired at a manned aerial vehicle? What kind of horrific injuries will occur that I won't be seeing on CNN, who's still convinced Tazers are perfectly non-lethal and have no long-term effects? It's like these crowd-control devices that use microwave radiation to create searing heat and pain in protesters -- that's all fine and dandy but it's just like water cannons: You assume that a blob of several thousand people can just up and run away in a few moments. If you've ever seen actual footage of these devices in use, you know that people are hurt and killed by them either due to being unable to get away (and drowning, or getting severe skin burns and blindness), or they get trampled to death.

So... the "unintended" consequences of ship-mounted lasers? You know, the ones the popular media doesn't report on? I'm all ears.

Re:Safety (3, Insightful)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about a year ago | (#43395549)

Yup. Too risky, let's go back to bullets and artillery shells.

Re:Safety (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43395901)

Too risky, let's go back to bullets and artillery shells.

It might be more humane than leaving them alive with all the skin on their face burned off.

Re:Safety (4, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | about a year ago | (#43395621)

War is about murdering the other people and breaking their equipment before they use their equipment to murder you. If you're using a laser, or a bullet, or a missile, or any of a myriad of weapons against a boat or an airplane, then it had damn well better pose enough of a threat to you that you are perfectly okay with everyone on it dying, and perhaps maybe even want to kill them. This isn't a "less-lethal" weapon (and I agree with your assessment of tasers and microwave pain rays); it's a "you, over there, die" weapon.

I'm quite critical of the US military contracting industry and of US military policy, but saying "this weapon is bad because it might kill people" is a little disingenuous. It's a weapon; it's for murdering people. If you don't think something's important enough to kill anyone who gets in the way of it, it's not worth going to war over, since that's what war is.

Re:Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395635)

Concern about a military weapon hurting people? What? ...MIND BLOWN!

Re:Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395845)

All ears but no brains.

The laser isn't intended to be non-lethal. The laser is intended to not require the reloading and mechanical maintenance that a conventional gun would require while killing people just as effectively as the gun. "Horrific injuries" are the desired effect. Like, duh.

Re:Safety (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#43395899)

It's a military laser, and it's being reported as a weapon. Given that the Spyder III was widely reported as a 'lightsaber', I wouldn't worry too much about the power of this thing being grossly underestimated. Gross overestimation is far more likely.

Time to Fund Research on Nonlinear Mathematics (1)

sehlat (180760) | about a year ago | (#43395503)

So we can deploy Particle Impactors ASAP.

Re:Time to Fund Research on Nonlinear Mathematics (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about a year ago | (#43395617)

Nah, you probably want to rush to Doctrine: Air Power. You'll get Synth Fossil Fuels on the way anyway.

Kim Jong Un says: (4, Funny)

nortcele (186941) | about a year ago | (#43395573)

Oh Yeah? We not aflaid of laser. We have bigger better laser. Two of them. Will cut earth in half.

Mirrors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395579)

Nex year all pirate ships will look like floating disco balls.

Modular systems on Navy ships (5, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | about a year ago | (#43395581)

I've read a few articles about the future directions the US Navy wants to take for ship technology. Basically, they want the ship to have a huge amount of electrical generation capacity onboard, then multiple redundant busses to route the power all over. Propulsion will be giant electric motors driving propellers or waterjets. Power can also fire railguns and now lasers.

If they have multiple generators as well as multiple redundant busses the ships might not have any single spot where damage could put the ship out of commission.

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

Railguns and lasers also have the nice property that they don't explode when hit. A magazine full of gunpowder, or a rack of missiles with liquid fuel, could explode when hit; but railgun projectiles just sit there, and the laser doesn't even have any consumables other than the electricity.

Let's just hope they don't use Windows 8 for the power management computers.

Re:Modular systems on Navy ships (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43395707)

Basically, they want the ship to have a huge amount of electrical generation capacity onboard, then multiple redundant busses to route the power all over.

Only one technology can deliver that: Nuclear power.

If they have multiple generators as well as multiple redundant busses the ships might not have any single spot where damage could put the ship out of commission.

No, but the ship now has a whole lot of places that, if hit, would cause radiation to spew out. Carriers are themselves small floating towns, and in a combat situation may only be a hundred miles or so from a major population center. You're now in a situation where, if one of the reactors was exposed, you may have to scuttle the ship in order to prevent an even greater ecological catastrophe.

Railguns and lasers also have the nice property that they don't explode when hit.

The gun itself, perhaps not. But the equipment it's attached to can go off like a bomb [buzzfeed.com] if it shorts out.

Let's just hope they don't use Windows 8 for the power management computers.

They use Windows NT. No, I'm serious. Many of our nuclear-power facilities on these ships are still running old versions of windows. However, with only one notable exception during a shakedown cruise, its use hasn't caused any operational difficulties.

The reason why they want large amounts of power and energy weapons is not because they're worried about running out of ammo. It's because it makes logistical sense given that the carrier is developing into its own mobile, floating, military base. The aircraft launching systems and amount of electronics equipment requires staggering amounts of electricity. Because of this, it's natural to simply extend that capability and develop laser and railgun systems because there's already a huge need for electricity so from a logistical standpoint, there are benefits.

But these weapons are no less dangerous than a room full of conventional ammunition -- large amounts of electrical equipment failing in a contained area can wreak devastation far in excess of what a torpedo could do.

Re:Modular systems on Navy ships (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about a year ago | (#43395917)

Only one technology can deliver that: Nuclear power.

Which is why I was surprised to see that they're going to deploy this laser on the Ponce, an Austin-class ship with 4 diesel turbines. I figured they'd have chosen a nuclear vessel.

I can't believe there is a "USS Ponce"! (3, Informative)

linatux (63153) | about a year ago | (#43395623)

Definition of ponce
noun

        1: derogatory an effeminate man.

        2: a man who lives off a prostitute’s earnings.

Re:I can't believe there is a "USS Ponce"! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395849)

or Ponce, Puerto Rico the city. named after the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Ponce_(LPD-15)

I believe in Spanish it translates to something close to Prince

USS...? (2)

sp1nl0ck (241836) | about a year ago | (#43395679)

USS Ponce [urbandictionary.com] ? Really...?

Blowtorch? Do they mean flamethrower? (2)

Shag (3737) | about a year ago | (#43395727)

"The very existence of flamethrowers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.'" --George Carlin

Oy vey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395743)

Lasers. Ship. Slashdot....

Release ... THE SHARK-JOKES

Right out of 1985... (1)

vtTom (591066) | about a year ago | (#43395773)

Watching the clip next to the story immediately reminded me of this opening scene from Real Genius... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTx_qTwQqjU [youtube.com]

the joy of killing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395863)

no doubt by 2015, terrorists and mass murderers can mount these lasers on their drones, to prove the value and effectiveness of this technology. Gotto love the "death industry" for turning every technological advance that comes along, into some sort of weapon. So a shout out to all those scientists, engineers and coders, making our world a richer and more powerful place to cower.

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