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scientificamerican.com: U.S. Navy Laser Weapon Shoots Down Drones in Test


Destino

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In a grainy, black-and-white video that looks like a home movie of a UFO attack a sleek aircraft streaks through the sky one minute, only to burst into flames the next and plummet into the sea. The silent video, which Raytheon Co. debuts Monday at the U.K.'s Farnborough International Air Show 2010, however, is not science fiction. The defense contractor says it depicts part of a test conducted in May during which the U.S. Navy used a solid-state laser to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles over the Pacific Ocean.

During the test, the Navy's Laser Weapon System (LaWS), guided by Raytheon's Phalanx Close-In Weapon System sensors, engaged and destroyed four UAV targets flying over water near the Navy's weapons and training facility on San Nicolas Island in California's Santa Barbara Channel, about 120 kilometers west of Los Angeles. The Phalanx—a rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun system—used electro-optical tracking and radio frequency sensors to provide range data to the LaWS, which is made up of six solid-state lasers with an output of 32 kilowatts that simultaneously focus on a target.

I imagine beams of light are easier to target than the Gatling guns currently used to defend Navy ships (being that they hit what they are pointed at and are not affected by wind or gravity like bullets are). The article suggest that the lasers also at least DOUBLE the range at which they can engage incoming enemy targets.

More importantly on an internet message board however: How friggin cool is this ****?! Navy ships armed with laser beams! Only a matter of time before lasers are mounted on air vehicles making them impossible to deal with in a dog fight (because if you are in range they can't miss).

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I imagine beams of light are easier to target than the Gatling guns currently used to defend Navy ships (being that they hit what they are pointed at and are not affected by wind or gravity like bullets are). The article suggest that the lasers also at least DOUBLE the range at which they can engage incoming enemy targets.

More importantly on an internet message board however: How friggin cool is this ****?! Navy ships armed with laser beams! Only a matter of time before lasers are mounted on air vehicles making them impossible to deal with in a dog fight (because if you are in range they can't miss).

Pretty awesome stuff, although the Gatling guns are pretty maneuverable. Plus, I think a problem with laser beams is that they likely have difficulty penetrating cloud cover (although I could be wrong).

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I thought we already had aircraft with laser mounts - not for air to air combat, but for shooting down missiles...

Unfortunately for proponents, the achievement is rather bittersweet. Where the Pentagon once had plans to build as many as seven of the one-of-a-kind Airborne Laser aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-400F, the high cost and technical uncertainties of the program prompted Defense Secretary Robert Gates last spring to cancel plans to build a second plane. The Pentagon kept the existing one around as an R&D platform.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10452572-76.html

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I thought we already had aircraft with laser mounts - not for air to air combat, but for shooting down missiles...

Chemical lasers that have a lot of draw backs. This test is a solid state laser and as such major advance in laser weapon technology.

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We have several different versions of asskicking lasers in a plane and on a ship...

None as cool as the Fantasia show in Florida on the water though ;)

A laser hitting your Nuke with a picture of Mickey/Pluto before it comes decending back to your own country would be worth the effort.

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