Do you guys mind if a "girl" chimes into the conversation?
Admittedly I am no expert on rail guns but I do know just a little about laser applications in the battlefield.
Originally posted by longbow
Lasers cannot go through the clouds and smoke so they are not especially big deal except shooting down enemy misiles. They can be also used against
the soft target but there is nothing that laser can do and 20 mm gatling cannot.
Regarding lasers not being able to go through clouds and smoke on the battlefield...
The chemical lasers currently being developed by Northrop-Grumman and Raytheon for battlefield use are COIL & CO2 infrared short-pulse lasers that
emit an amplified energy on the far
-infrared spectrum, in the 8-14 micron range. Because of this wavelength the energy of these lasers is only
minimally diminished in certain vapors (fogs) and smoke generated by hydrocarbon fuel.
In other words if you hide behind the smoke of an oil fire and think you're safe from a megawatt CO2 laser you will likely become nothing more than
a wisp of vapor very quickly.
Obscurants that are most effective in blocking battlefield lasers are dust (thick clouds of dust) and smoke produced by white and red phosphorous.
Obscurants that are mildly effective at thwarting the energy of a high power laser are water vapor clouds and fog. Again, don't think you have it
made hiding in a fog bank when there is a megawatt laser a few kilometers away as you will get cooked like a holiday turkey.
Can a laser be used for more than shooting down enemy missiles and artillery rounds?
a 4,000 watt CO2 pulse laser can cut through a 12 inch block of steel in a little over 60 seconds.
What would a laser in the megawatt (1 million watts) range do?
What could a 4-10 million watt laser do to an M-1 Abrams or even a T-90 tank?
The phrase "hot knife through butter" comes to mind...
I said all that just to give you something to consider - the actual application of these lasers are for the foreseeable future defense against
missiles and artillery rounds.
Also regarding Longbow's gatling gun comment..."there is nothing that laser can do and 20 mm gatling cannot." ...
I don't see any gatling guns with a 300+ mile range of effectiveness...
[Edited on 13-5-2004 by intelgurl]