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U.S. Develops Laser Weapon For Fighter Aircraft

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posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 12:32 PM
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This is not the laser for shooting down missles from a 747. It is a refrigerator-sized weapon that can be installed in a fighter sized aircraft.

laser weapon article

The article says it will be used against missiles fired from other aircraft, but what would keep a pilot from also using it against other planes or ground targets?

This will take air warfare to a new "star wars" level. An enemy plane might be able to escape from a missile, but it won't be able to dodge a laser beam travelling at the speed of light no matter what kind of cobra or other maneuvers the enemy aircraft can make.


[edit on 8/24/2005 by centurion1211]




posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 01:07 PM
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The Point Air Laser Defence i think is used just to shoot down incoming enemy missiles. Like in the game C&C Generals Zero Hour, the USA Air Force General's Aircrafts have Point Air Laser Defence which to shoot down missiles.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 01:16 PM
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"We've combined the high energy density of the solid state laser with the thermal management of the liquid laser," New Scientist quoted project manager Don Woodbury as saying.
Dubbed the "HEL weapon" by its developers, a prototype capable of firing a mild one kilowatt (kW) beam has already been produced and there are plans to build a stronger 15-kW version by the end of the year.
If everything goes according to plan, an even more powerful weapon producing a 150-kW beam and capable of knocking down a missile will be ready by 2007 for fitting onto aircraft.



Nice and ready for the JSF, sorry I don’t know much about lasers but is 150KW enough to burn a hole in a jets fuselage?



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 06:36 PM
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I wonder how many shots it could fire. If I recall correctly, these lasers in the past also had a problem where the required power was so great that you get like one or two shots.

They need to think more outside the box. Having them on fighter jets is nice, but why stop there? On top of hummers and tanks. Mounted around the perimeter of a base with some targeting software that automatically recognizes unapproved visitors and fires at them. On ships... one incoming missile will ruin your whole day if you're on an aircraft carrier.

And my favorite: position them along the US border and have them fire at anything that moves too close. Sure, some coyotes will be cooked too, but hey what can you do. Not knowing the range of the laser, I can't readily calculate how many you'd need to secure the border. If it can reach a mile, and the border is 3000 miles (right?), then just 1500 would do it. Try doing that with just 1500 border patrol agents.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 07:13 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Nice and ready for the JSF, sorry I don’t know much about lasers but is 150KW enough to burn a hole in a jets fuselage?


We'll put it this way. Laser pointers are the maximum wattage allowed for unlicensed use. They are only 4.9mW (mW = milliwatt = 1/1000 of a watt) lasers. Anything stronger than this increases the risk of eye damage. The largest lasers in use in the live music/theatre/nightclub industry (such as a large outdoor concert) are around 60,000mW (60 watts).

(reference this article)

A typical cutting laser, at 2000 watts (2 Kilowatts, or KW) will cut, on average, about 100 linear inches of 1/4" steel per minute. It should be noted, however, that a typical 3KW cutting laser is slightly less effective, cutting about the same amount of material per minute, using more power. This is because lower wattage lasers are easier to achieve a higher beam quality with, therefore concentrating more heat into a smaller area.

(reference this article)

Also, the overall cutting power of a laser depends on a lot more than the wattage of the beam. The wavelength of the light emitted is important, as some wavelengths cut better, and certain wavelengths can be invisible to other materials (and therefore won't cut it). Also, as previously noted, beam quality is an important factor. Beam quality refers to the overall roundness of the beam (a more round, smoother edge beam will be more efficient than a rough edged beam) as well as the number of "hot spots" in the face of the beam. A good high quality beam should only have one hot spot in the middle, and have the light taper off towards the edges, much like a bell curve. Finally, the spot size is important as well. A smaller spot mean that more energy is focused into a smaller area, thereby increasing the efficiency of the beam.

(reference this article)

This said, a 150KW laser should be enough to completely destroy an aircraft fuselage, assuming it's built to maximum efficiency (which, if it's being developed for the military, you can bet it'll be highly efficient). Once these weapons are implemented, it should be pretty interesting to see field tests.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 07:15 PM
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I think it might be because of the short range of the laser that limits it to shot down only incoming missiles.

To attack other aircrafts, missiles and guns might be better because of longer range...unless the enemy aircraft also has lasers....in that case maybe only gun would be effective, or maybe aircrafts need to fire dozen of missiles at once to take down each others.

And yea, this kind of stuff would also be very useful on armor vehicles and ships.


[edit on 24-8-2005 by twchang]



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 08:05 PM
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Obsidian,

Thanks for adding all the technical info.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 08:38 PM
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From a couple of 2002 articles:


One of the biggest challenges facing Lockheed Martin in its efforts to install a high-energy laser on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the question of what to do with all the excess heat generated by the system, according to the company's lead for directed energy programs.
Laser systems use electricity to produce highly focused beams of light, as well as considerable amounts of waste heat that must be dissipated. Lockheed Martin believes that a 100-kilowatt laser is the minimum power level needed to be an effective weapon for a fighter.

However, "to get 100 kilowatts of light out, you've got to put a megawatt of electrical power in, so somewhere along the way you've got to deal with 900 kilowatts of cooling," Tom Burris, lead for directed energy at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, told The DAILY. "That's a ton, for a fighter that normally does tens of kilowatts of cooling."

......

This process won't compromise the JSF's stealth, Burris said, because it will have no appreciable effect on its infrared signature.

Laser on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter




American defence contractors are developing a laser weapon for fighter aircraft that may be powerful enough to blind people on the ground, even if they are relatively far from the target, New Scientist can reveal.

The 100-kilowatt infrared laser, which is being developed for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter by defence companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, is far more powerful than any laser ever used in war. But because it is designed to attack targets such as other fighter aircraft, ground vehicles and anti-aircraft batteries, it is exempt from the Geneva Convention's ban on blinding weapons.

Fighter plane's laser may blind civilians




While at South Base, Jumper toured the Airborne Laser systems integration laboratory, where the ABL Integrated Test Force will integrate and test the laser on the ground prior to testing the system in the air. During the stop the chief showed his support for the program.

Chief of Staff gets up close look at future weapon systems

Other notables:
Air Force, industry sign fighter laser feasibility agreement
Air Force labs to help Lockheed develop fighter jet lasers
Attack at the Speed of Light
The Promise and Problem of Laser Weapons

From 2003:
Directed Energy

From 2004:
F-16 Pilots Join in Laser Games
Whither high-energy lasers?






seekerof



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 08:39 PM
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A refrigerator size laser systems is small enough so that you could fir several on a carrier, you could even fit one on smaller ships like destroyers and cruisers.

[edit on 24-8-2005 by WestPoint23]



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 08:43 PM
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The one advantage of living in scotland, ultimate defence against lasers.
Oh and the irn bru and haggis and the kilts..
Got to love water.
Though as OB said, it will be interesting to see the field results.
Mind you, on ships It could be useful but with the sea swells it could cause problems.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 08:46 PM
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Could be, but I think anything that would affect the laser would also affect the sea skimming missiles.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 09:34 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Could be, but I think anything that would affect the laser would also affect the sea skimming missiles.

Hmm I duno, remember missiles fly close to it but not too close, those sea swells dont need to hit the laser beam, just send a spray into it, or even hit the laser itself.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 10:14 PM
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asawa - I thought the same thing as you...Borders. But they will do much more then a mile, If you could build a 150kw laser, that has its own powersupply, and cools down as fast as it gets hot, which would keep it equal, you could just turn them on, and keep them on 24/7. and basically, the only thing limiting there range is the curvature of the earth. But it would still have its flaws...people would just tunnel under it.

and having lasers on ships, and a couple on carriers would be great, and long as tou put them near the top of the ship, waves wont be a big problem.

and asawa, they have a 10 KW laser called Zues, its currently in Iraq.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 10:18 PM
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I first read about this in 2003.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 10:20 PM
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Originally posted by devilwasp
The one advantage of living in scotland, ultimate defence against lasers.
Oh and the irn bru and haggis and the kilts..
Got to love water.
Though as OB said, it will be interesting to see the field results.
Mind you, on ships It could be useful but with the sea swells it could cause problems.


What do you mean, scotland is the ultimate defense against lasers? Fog, defensive navy, something else?

On ships, I don't think the sea swells would cause problems since it moves at the speed of light (basically goes where you pointed instantly).

BTW, how common are bagpipes up there? Just curious since you said something about kilts, and whenever I hear kilt I think bagpipes for some reason. Probably because that is what my brother wears whenever he plays them. Obnoxious things indoors, but it sounds cool outside.



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 10:24 PM
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Originally posted by PBscientist
What do you mean, scotland is the ultimate defense against lasers? Fog, defensive navy, something else?

The one thing it always does here is rain, its the primary weather.
We get it like 12 months a year.


On ships, I don't think the sea swells would cause problems since it moves at the speed of light (basically goes where you pointed instantly).

Water can refract light.
Sea swells just need to make the air more humid to screw up the laser.


BTW, how common are bagpipes up there?

Quite.
They are quite common, whish I could play myself..


Just curious since you said something about kilts, and whenever I hear kilt I think bagpipes for some reason.

Most people do think that.


Probably because that is what my brother wears whenever he plays them. Obnoxious things indoors, but it sounds cool outside.

Yeah indoors is a bad place for them...outside is the best...espeically in a big echoey place....



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 10:41 PM
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Albuquerque Tribune news article from 2003

Zap! Air Force eyes `Jedi'-style weapons

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune Reporter

"Star Wars" laser battles may have happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but for the U.S. Air Force they're just now starting to become a reality.

A new high energy laser weapon and F-16 flight simulator, designed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Theater Aerospace Command Control Simulation Facility at Kirtland Air Force Base, will let pilots test technology that could put the United States far ahead of its enemies.

The F-16 model is a smaller version of the airborne laser weapon already under development for use on a Boeing 747 for shooting down missiles. It could be ready for use in 2012, but before that happens, pilots will test the system in the simulator to see how useful it is and suggest ways it could be improved to help them in combat.

"Essentially what we're looking at is that this laser can hit a target at the speed of light, almost instantly compared with the time of flight of a missile, which can take several seconds," said Jono Tyson, a contract employee from Scientific Research Corp. and assistant project manager at the simulation facility. "The laser is also a much more cost-effective weapon versus firing a missile that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Firing the laser will likely only cost a couple hundred dollars."

This fall, the two Kirtland agencies will attach the system to flight simulators in Arizona at the Fighter Weapons Training Branch. Pilots at the facility will tell the Air Force whether they think the laser is worth further development, said Rudy Martinez, the simulation facility's project manager.

"We're going to see how they like it and how often they use it over conventional weapons," Martinez said. "Right now the system is just a proposal, and the laser is competing with other technologies, such as more advanced missiles."

The laser system is a renewable weapon, another advantage. When missiles fire, they are completely destroyed, but a laser needs only to be recharged before it can fire again, said Rick Garcia, a spokesman at the research lab.

The high energy laser weighs about 5,000 pounds and can fire on targets up to 10 miles away - a short distance compared with the 40-mile reach of air-to-air missiles. If the pilots like the simulation, scientists at the research lab, which developed the technology, will try to make the weapon smaller and more powerful, so it can fire greater distances and take up less space on an F-16.

"What we're also trying to figure out now is how long it takes for our laser to take out a target," Tyson said. "It's not like `Battlestar Galactica,' where you just fire, and they go down. It has to hit the target for a second or two."

The system can also fire at targets on the ground, such as enemy lines or tank columns, Tyson said.

"Of course, if the target doesn't go down, it's never pilot error - ever," Tyson said, joking.

To build the simulator, scientists and technicians at the simulation facility added an extra firing button on the pilot's stick and developed extensive software programs that realistically simulate the targeting instrument panel and visual firing of the system on two video screens.

"The point is, we want to train as closely as possible to the way we really fight," said Capt. Kelley Moore, another program manager at the simulation facility.

The one unrealistic thing about the laser is the sound it makes. When fired, the simulator makes a noise that sounds a lot like a `Star Trek' phaser blast. In real life, the laser makes no noise at all.

"The problem is, pilots don't know when the weapon has fired if it doesn't make a noise," said Suzanne Baker, a software engineer who helped develop the system. "We got the noise for this one from Tactical Air Systems. I think they got it from `Star Trek' or something, but I'm not sure. You'd think a bunch of nerds like us would know that."

The system has been fully developed and tested at Kirtland, but it must be adapted for the much more advanced flight simulators in Arizona. Its developers will spend the next several months tweaking it to work on those systems and hope to finish late this year.

"Once it's in place, we should get some very good feedback," Moore said. "We'll get a wish list from the pilots off of this simulation, and then we'll go back and continue to improve it. Eventually we'll have a very efficient weapons system that gives the pilots exactly what they want, without spending the money to build a bunch of prototypes that they don't like."



[edit on 24-8-2005 by NWguy83]



posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 10:47 PM
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posted on Aug, 25 2005 @ 05:41 AM
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Another article about this laser in New Scientist

Funny how it appears that reuters in london appears to have broke the story first, you would have thought it would have been a US agency reporting this



posted on Aug, 25 2005 @ 06:49 AM
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so having these new lasers, will that have an impact on the style of fighting? i would think that with lasers and a good radar, any incomming missiles from BVR aircraft would be detected and shot down.
so would they need to rely on dogfights in the near future again?



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