posted on Aug, 30 2005 @ 08:34 AM
Looks like the recent US base closures (BRaCC) would signify a new era of weapons technology is coming into the light...pun intended
DARPA's HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) will be light enough to fit on a fighter jet or drone aircraft, and yet powerful
enough to fire a 150 kilowatt beam of energy. Star Wars laser cannon may be closer than you think.
High energy laser weapons already in development are powerful enough to bring down missiles (see MTHEL -
Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser
However, their very large size has precluded placement on any but the largest planes. The main weight problem comes from the cooling systems
HELLADS makes use of a unique cooling technique. The high-energy laser uses a liquid that has the same angle of refraction as the mirrors inside the
blaster. That way, the "ray gun" can fire away, even while it's being cooled. Currently in the third of five phases of development, a 15 kilowatt
subscale prototype is being tested in the laboratory. In the next phase, the demonstrator device will be scaled up to 150 kW, and will specifically be
targeted to achieve the low specific weight (5 kg/kW) and compact size need to be mounted in a smaller airborne vehicle. The final phase is
engineering, fabricating, integrating and demonstrating the complete HELLADS weapon system on a tactical platform. The device will be built by General
Atomics and the tracking system will be built by Lockheed.
This kind of compact system is getting very close to what science fiction writers since H.G. Wells have envisioned when writing about the
in War of
. More recently, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote about laser cannon in their 1974 novel
Mote in God's Eye
..."The intruder came from here. Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon, or a set of laser cannon - probably a whole mess of them on asteroids,
with mirrors to focus them - for about forty-five years, so the intruder would have a beam to travel on... (Read more about
Playing with Liquid Fire:
High Energy Lasers Cool Down,
HELLADS (at DARPA)
Best hope they don't get anti-matter production figured out....