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Northrop Grumman Given Contract for Laser Beam Director for Fighters, Prototype Expected 2019

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posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 10:21 PM
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Northrop Grumman will help the U.S. Air Force to develop a directed energy laser system that will offer self-protection for the service's next-generation jets, the company announced Wednesday.

The work, under an Air Force Research Laboratory contract, will see Northrop Grumman develop and produce the beam control piece of an airborne laser weapon demonstration array that the laboratory is developing as part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator, or SHiELD, program, Northrop said in a statement.

The laser would reside in a pod that could be attached to fighter-sized aircraft, with the system tested on aircraft flying at supersonic speed.

Air Force officials expect to begin testing the system by 2019.


www.upi.com...

This is the external pod version. That means this is primarily targeted at the 4th gen planes.

Getting power out to the pod is more a concern than anything, I'd think.

I have to wonder if you could hang one off of an AWACS for self defense.




posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 10:23 PM
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a reply to: anzha

There was always talk about the F-35B being ideal for directed energy weapons. You would remove the fan used for STOVL, and instead use the driveshaft to generate the electrical energy needed for the weapons system



posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 10:48 PM
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a reply to: FredT

This is the baseline for the F-35D, or so I am told, except they;d swap in the new engine with the better fuel efficiency so as to not lose the range.



posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 11:22 PM
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Getting power out to the pod is more a concern than anything, I'd think.


A good chunk of the power produced by jet engines is often wasted.

At least 75% is for self sustainment. The rest goes to powering systems and another good chunk is just wasted. At least this is true for the Blackhawk and the T700 engines it has.

Maybe the numbers are similar in jet engines like these.

Either way I'm certain current engines could run these laser cannons quite easily.



posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 11:26 PM
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a reply to: projectvxn

The engines probably produce more than enough, but I was thinking of power distribution from the engines to the Pod. You're talking 30 to 100 kw at least.



posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 11:31 PM
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maybe some body could get creative and use the exhaust to power the laser.

certainly some thermoelectric power can be harnessed. maybe something more creative and exotic to harness power.



posted on Nov, 3 2016 @ 11:40 PM
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a reply to: grey580

thermovoltaics have an efficiency of around 6%. The other stuff gets too heavy.

The hook up where the lift fan would be is about ideal for power generation for an F-35.

My concerns are mostly for the 4th gen.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 12:05 AM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: projectvxn

The engines probably produce more than enough, but I was thinking of power distribution from the engines to the Pod. You're talking 30 to 100 kw at least.


Not sure why that would be an issue.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 01:14 AM
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originally posted by: grey580
maybe some body could get creative and use the exhaust to power the laser.

certainly some thermoelectric power can be harnessed. maybe something more creative and exotic to harness power.


You can lase the exhaust directly, or use it to power an MHD generator. Both have been done in field tests, the MHD thing is very useful in other ways, I hear.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 04:58 AM
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I'd imagine it would be better to charge them up on the ground before slapping them to the plane so they have lets say 3-4 fires before running dry and the plane probably could keep the pod running just by trickle charging assuming it doesn't have to empty its cells in one sudden session. The question is how much spare power is there and how quickly you would want the recharge cycle to be able to fire a shot.

But a pod on the wing won't be able to provide 360 coverage so surely it would be better on larger planes where a few can be mounted internally to provide a better amount of coverage like on a b-52 as i bet one of those will have the power to run the 5 or 6 needed to provide coverage.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 05:34 AM
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originally posted by: projectvxn

originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: projectvxn

The engines probably produce more than enough, but I was thinking of power distribution from the engines to the Pod. You're talking 30 to 100 kw at least.


Not sure why that would be an issue.


It's a lot of power and there's likely no connection on the hardpoint that's remotely up to it. You'd want something that could tote a pretty high voltage in order to keep the weight down, and so there'd likely have to be some retrofitting.

Plus I'm not sure how much extra electrical power you've got on a common fighter but I'd have to guess it's nowhere near 50kW continuous, I certainly wouldn't design in that much extra because it would weigh more. I'd probably look at the design's extrapolated total max, engineer in 10% over and lie that it's 5%. If I could sneak in more without paying for it a lot in terms of bulk, weight or expense I'd give it what I could get and still lie that it's 5% over. But 2-300% over, that's not going to happen without it being obvious.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 06:17 AM
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I'm afraid such a fan would never be able to generate such electricity. As an example, a Boeing 737 carries 2 90kVA generators. That's 180kVA combined. A laser that has enough power to destroy would require at least 50MW - that's Mega as opposed to kilo. Unrealistic. a reply to: FredT



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 06:22 AM
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originally posted by: Mitmein
I'm afraid such a fan would never be able to generate such electricity. As an example, a Boeing 737 carries 2 90kVA generators. That's 180kVA combined. A laser that has enough power to destroy would require at least 50MW - that's Mega as opposed to kilo. Unrealistic. a reply to: FredT



100kW CW electric lasers can render incoming missiles (and pilots) useless. It's not like you have to melt them into slag. Even THEL only radiated something like a MW, although the classified output of the final tankage-reduced version was a bit higher.

The goal is to render useless. So you can blind the thing, burn off radar antennae, or deflagrate the warhead. None of which take 50MW radiated power.

Still, 50-100kW input power is going to be tough to pony up and deliver to the pod. The more you can manage, though, the faster your cyclic rate will be until you hit the limit of cooling for the pod.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 06:53 AM
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The use of lasers to blind people is forbidden as much as chemical or biological warfare.

a reply to: Bedlam



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 06:56 AM
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a reply to: Mitmein

This isn't for blinding. Lasers have moved on from that power level ages ago.

These lasers are for killing. Specifically missiles and aircraft, but also people potentially.

And its far from illegal to do so.



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 07:07 AM
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originally posted by: Mitmein
The use of lasers to blind people is forbidden as much as chemical or biological warfare.

a reply to: Bedlam



Sure...but you're permitted unintended blinding.

So if you're trying to, let's say, opaque the other guy's canopy, then if he gets it in the face and is blinded, que lastima!

You're also not supposed to use IR target designators to intentionally blind potential snipers, but you never know when you might need that thing to work, so you occasionally have to test them, and we always found windows with what might have been scope or binocs glinting to be a valid test target.

In the same vein, you're technically not supposed to use 50BMG or a Mark 19 as anti-personnel weapons. And you should never ever use gaffer/100mph tape to stick an M34 WP marker grenade to the front of a claymore, as 'smoke marking' groups of people as a contact breaker is expressly forbidden, as it would be using WP on personnel.

But you never know when you might need to put up a big poof of smoke all at once to let you know a group of people pursuing you aren't anymore, and the only way to do that is with a claymore/M34 combo. (although after GW1, this wasn't an option anymore. Alas)

I agree that by-design laser blinders are out, the tech is there at the warfighters' discretion though and no-one's going to call them on it. After all, I was checking his uniform for reflectivity.
edit on 4-11-2016 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 08:45 AM
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originally posted by: Bedlam

originally posted by: grey580
maybe some body could get creative and use the exhaust to power the laser.

certainly some thermoelectric power can be harnessed. maybe something more creative and exotic to harness power.


You can lase the exhaust directly, or use it to power an MHD generator. Both have been done in field tests, the MHD thing is very useful in other ways, I hear.


Are you talking about MHD plasma or recirculating cloud of ionized air surrounding the aircraft to reduce sonic boom ?



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 09:45 AM
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originally posted by: nelloh62
Are you talking about MHD plasma or recirculating cloud of ionized air surrounding the aircraft to reduce sonic boom ?


Well, both are fun, but in this case, you can directly derive electrical power from the jet exhaust using an MHD collector and a superconducting magnet around the nozzle, sort of. It sounds clunky but it works pretty well in practice.

There are a lot more tricks you can play with that up front and in back. Whilst I'm enjoined against connecting that set of dots, one might consider various arrangements of that sort of thing.

eta: in fact, if you took electrical energy from the exhaust, it actually reduces the exhaust energy, makes it easier to disperse, gives you less heat signature, less exhaust turbulence to pick up on, and lots of excess power for, say, running thousands of tiny plasma emitters buried in little golf ball pits in strategic places, as well.
edit on 4-11-2016 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 10:23 AM
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a reply to: Bedlam

So, in theory, might a multi poled magnet/mhd generator up front, tbbc engine in middle followed by another mhd accelerator maybe get us to a mach 6/7 ?



posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 03:01 PM
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originally posted by: Mitmein
I'm afraid such a fan would never be able to generate such electricity. As an example, a Boeing 737 carries 2 90kVA generators. That's 180kVA combined.


I'm no electrical engineer but:

The F-135 engine in the B model is capable of generating 30000 SHP to the fan in baseline form. Many land based electrical generators are basically ground based get engines (for example the General Electric LM2500 used in marine operations is basically a modified CF-6). Many ground based generators can put out 20-30 MW's of power. In that context, its not inconceivable that if you replaced the lift fan with a generator (thus eliminating its STOVL) you could then use that electrical power to fire the directed energy weapon. Two pods would allow a higher rate of fire because you could alternate use etc. Or some sort of pod arrangement that can then be retracted back into the bay to preserve stealth and fuel performance.



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