Laser weapons edge toward use in US military

April 8, 2017 by Laurent Barthelemy
The Navy has since 2014 been testing a 30-kilowatt laser on one of its warships, the USS Ponce

A sci-fi staple for decades, laser weapons are finally becoming reality in the US military, albeit with capabilities a little less dramatic than at the movies.

Lightsabers—the favored weapon of the Jedi in "Star Wars" films—will remain in the fictional realm for now, but after decades of development, laser weapons are now here and are being deployed on military vehicles and planes.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon—all the big defense players—are developing prototypes for the Pentagon.

The Navy has since 2014 been testing a 30-kilowatt laser on one of its warships, the USS Ponce.

Lockheed Martin has just announced a 60-kilowatt laser weapon that soon will be installed on an Army truck for operational testing against mortars and small drones.

The weapon can take out a drone from a distance of about 500 yards (457 meters) by keeping its beam locked onto the target for a few seconds, Jim Murdoch, an international business development director at Lockheed, told reporters this week.

But unlike in the movies, the laser beam is invisible to the naked eye.

By focusing the beam onto a target, the technology rapidly heats the inside of an incoming mortar round, causing it to explode mid-air. An impressive feat considering the round is moving at hundreds of miles per hour.

The laser can also pierce the outer skin of a drone, taking out key circuits and making it crash.

For the moment, the lasers being tested are all of about this same power.

Defeating a missile

Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, sees that relatively small output increasing rapidly.

Within just a few years, he expects far more powerful prototypes of more than 150 kilowatts.

Such a laser could knock out a missile sideways on, where it is most vulnerable.

He said special operations forces want to test such a system by 2020 on an AC-130 gunship that specializes in ground support for troops.

And within six to eight years, US forces could begin using laser systems of more than 300 kilowatts, he added.

Unlike conventional canons that need shells, laser canons are limited only by the amount of electricity that can be generated

That degree of power could knock out an incoming missile head-on. Eventually, reality will increasingly catch up with fiction.

The US military is also weighing the possibility of mounting lasers on drones flying at very high altitudes, making them capable of shooting down ballistic missiles shortly after launch.

Another bonus for the military from lasers is the promise of seemingly unending and cheap firepower.

Unlike conventional canons that need shells, laser canons are limited only by the amount of electricity that can be generated.

Gunzinger deems lasers as especially promising on warplanes, which could potentially get an unlimited reservoir of firepower to defend against adversaries' missiles.

"An aircraft doesn't have to return to base to upload more weapons. It could refuel and continue to operate with its nearly unlimited magazine," he said.

Physical constraints

But before laser technology can be integrated into combat planes, it must first be shrunk in size.

Currently engineers are running into physical limitations on how much portable power can be produced and ways of cooling the technology.

Lockheed wants to increase the power of its truck-mounted laser.

"For a vehicle like this, there will be some engineering limits," said Murdoch.

"We will run out of space ... that's the kind of challenge we are working."

But industry reps and military officials say there's only one thing stopping lasers from garnering widespread operational use: government funding.

Congress is cautious. Lawmakers recall a lengthy program that cost more than $5 billion in which a Boeing 747 was retrofitted to carry a laser gun supposedly capable of shooting down enemy missiles.

The program was scrapped in 2012 over concerns it could never be operationally viable.

The laser beam used in that technology was generated by chemicals so was not strong enough to take out a .

Explore further: Lockheed Martin to deliver world record-setting 60kw laser to U.S. Army

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katesisco
1 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2017
"Eventually realty will catch up with fiction." Think not. The car engine? Still 10% efficient and covering the world. Obviously wishful thinking did not catch up with fact. Would we have most of our genetic codes switched off by epigenes if we had not substituted man made CO2 for earth produced CO2? What about the ever rising CO and SO4?
How about a magical man-made enchantment that will disintegrate concrete and allow reuse of the land?
Benni
3 / 5 (12) Apr 08, 2017
This isn't a fair fight. Why should the US Military have such an advantage over it's enemies in preventing them from killing us?

We need geek gkam to lead a delegation to Washington DC to protest what could become unfair advantages the Trump administration could engage in when taking out our enemies that George is so in love with. By the way George, I flew a drone over your house the other day to see if Ed Bradley had been keeping you company............I'll keep it to myself for the time being.
gkam
1.9 / 5 (13) Apr 08, 2017
Poor benni, losing the debate drives him to personal attacks.

Listen up, Little Benni: I served. Yup, in the real military and against them old Commies themselves.

Where were you hiding?
winthrom
Apr 08, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 08, 2017
Poor benni, losing the debate drives him to personal attacks.

Listen up, Little Benni: I served. Yup, in the real military and against them old Commies themselves.

Where were you hiding?
Well probally not in thailand or you might have runned him over with your little scooter.

Bhanging and driving dont mix.
RealityCheck
3.8 / 5 (10) Apr 08, 2017
@Benni.

Mate, why do that? Personally motivated ego-tripping cheap-shots are beneath anyone claiming (as you do) to be better than those whom you attack in other threads/topics. So please be/do better than just being yet another troll-shiting irerelevance on PO; we have enough of them in the form of bot-voting/trolling ignoramus 'insult-gang' already, we don't need any more. Thanks in advance for refraining from such unhelpful personal feud posts in future here and elsewhere, Benni.
adam_russell_9615
not rated yet Apr 08, 2017
Just so long as the enemy doesnt attack when it's raining.
Whydening Gyre
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2017
@Benni.

Mate, why do that? Personally motivated ego-tripping cheap-shots are beneath anyone claiming (as you do) to be better than those whom you attack in other threads/topics. So please be/do better than just being yet another troll-shiting irerelevance on PO; we have enough of them in the form of bot-voting/trolling ignoramus 'insult-gang' already, we don't need any more. Thanks in advance for refraining from such unhelpful personal feud posts in future here and elsewhere, Benni.

I'm sure Benni thanks you for that subtle, but personally motivated, ego-tripping cheap shot...
RealityCheck
2.1 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2017
@Whyde.

Which cheap shot, Whyde? Yours. Your vacuous and fatuous 'one-liner' post above is a 'cheap shot' at my calibrated response/appeal to Benni to NOT be like you and 'the troll/insults gang' you have chosen run with. Seems you just proved the point I made to Benni: there are more than enough troll-shiting 'gangmembers' here at PO, without him (or anyone else) adding to that surfeit of PO troll-shiters dumping their crap onto the threads/floors; we don't need any more. Wise up, Whyde.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 09, 2017
As long as sickos like gkam and rc insist on exploiting these threads for dumping superego bombs and talking about themselves, theyre going to be insulted and laughed at.

This is the natural response of normal people to psychopaths and narcissists and egomaniacs. Its why george has been picked on his whole life.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
In their minds george and rc twist this derision into some sort of jealosy by inferior wannabes. Theyre attention whores after all.

This is also funny.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
Why do we have "otto" here when we have moderators?

I know his fixations cannot be treated by us, but somebody has to tell him/her they are not going to get the treatment they need until they consult a real doctor.

It is the sign of piss-poor moderation that lets others get away with libel.
winthrom
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2017
I retract this item "Against snipers (beyond kill range but within blinding range)" because it is against our rules of warfare now. However, within the kill range, it could destroy sniper weapons by exploding ammo in the weapon's magazine. If, perchance, the sniper gets killed (within the kill range) because the weapon fried the snipers headgear, or the rifle's exploding magazine caused deadly damage, so be it. The distinction is that the sniper is engaged in deadly force against friendly personnel, so the defensive use of such weapons is acceptable. Consider this: In the article below we learn that US forces tested a laser that could detect "the glass" of an enemies' binoculars. Now if we had a 50 cal. with computer range/fire control that then used the laser information to remove the threat. 50 cal sound real bad, then how about a 30/30? Warfare is about doing unto others before they do unto you.

https://www.icrc....jmcz.htm

What do you think?
gkam
2 / 5 (8) Apr 09, 2017
I think we spend too much time and effort and resources trying to find ways to kill others.

It is time we grew up.
winthrom
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
@gkam
I agree with your sentiment, and caution you that those that do not share these sentiments and are willing to use deadly force to force (and enforce) their beliefs on peacemakers and their friends, forfeit growing up in favor of childish bullying with grown up weapons (e.g., ISIS). Such people seem to prefer the bully's non-humane solutions to problems where they cannot prevail otherwise. In the mean time, preserving our own skins depends on spending "... too much time and effort and resources trying to find ways to kill others."
mrlewish
5 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2017
Intentionally blinding an enemy is a war crime. Lazerzzzzz should can only be used directly against equipment.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
If, perchance, the sniper gets killed (within the kill range) because the weapon fried the snipers headgear, or the rifle's exploding magazine caused deadly damage, so be it
Yeah you can put a bullet right through a snipers scope and into his eye but you cant blind him with light.
https://www.youtu...poXVt31k

Morality is so relative.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
"caution you that those that do not share these sentiments and are willing to use deadly force to force (and enforce) their beliefs on peacemakers and their friends"
-------------------------------------

In mid 1968 I could no longer rationalize my participation in the killing of people in their own country. Having spoken up about it while actively in it, I got the ire of the anonymous vandals, like we have here. None of them had the guts to face me, but all were vandals.

I came home in a delirium, but with my integrity intact.

It is what is missing in the three snipers who dog me here.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
3 snipers
-More like everyone whos ever interacted with you here for any length of time.
I went to nam and came back all screwed up boohoo
Yeah like I say we know who and what you are.

"Manipulation is the key to the psychopath's conquests. Initially, the psychopath will feign false emotions to create empathy, and many of them study the tricks that can be employed by the empathy technique. Psychopaths are often able to incite pity from people because they seem like "lost souls" as Guggenbuhl-Craig writes. So the pity factor is one reason why victims often fall for these "poor" people"

"Oh, indeed, they can imitate feelings, but the only real feelings they seem to have - the thing that drives them and causes them to act out different dramas for effect - is a sort of "predatorial hunger" for what they want..."

-As always, thanks again for the opportunity to educate the general public.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2017
Most interesting here are the responses from the stay-at-home "patriots" who stoop to harass war vets.

It's not just measure character, of decency, it is a measure of Humanity.

"otto" hides his identity because he has none of the above.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2017
Lightsabers—the favored weapon of the Jedi in "Star Wars" films—will remain in the fictional realm for now, but after decades of development, laser weapons...

Just a niggle - Lightsabers aren't laser weapons.

As for taking out drones. I wonder when the first drone-with-cat-eye-reflector will turn up. That'll be fun to watch.

The weapon can take out a drone from a distance of about 500 yards (meters) by keeping its beam locked onto the target for a few seconds,

From what I gather on wikipedia about the speed of mortar rounds that's cutting it close to the point where it doesn't matter if the sheel hits you or explodes right next to you (and hardening a shell against this is probably as easy as a spray-on coat of reflective material)
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2017
Most interesting here are the responses from the stay-at-home "patriots" who stoop to harass war vets
Note how the lying cheating stolen valor psychopath seeks to hide behind his service?

This is why you got thrown out of the VFW isnt it?
Just a niggle - Lightsabers aren't laser weapons
-?? How do you know theyre not laser weapons? Maybe the tech was different long ago and far away? Maybe they could make coherent light do things back then that we cant yet do?
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2017
? How do you know theyre not laser weapons?

Because the tech is described ion variouscanon media (they're plasma weapons).
SCVGoodToGo
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2017
(they're plasma weapons).


Be careful AA or we'll have to hear how light sabres operate on Z pinched birkeland currents using alfven waves or somesuch nonsense.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2017
Because the tech is described ion variouscanon media (they're plasma weapons)
And did this media originate on tatooine or somewhere in this galaxy?

The jedi call them light savers not plasma sabers. As this is our only evidence as to their nature, besides their ability to cut off hands and slice through girders, and that vvvvVVVVVvv noise they make, I will have to take it on faith.
Benni
1 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2017
Poor benni, losing the debate drives him to personal attacks.

Listen up, Little Benni: I served. Yup, in the real military and against them old Commies themselves.

Where were you hiding?
.......at Engineering school studying Nuclear & Electrical Engineering for 6 years.

I'm sure Benni thanks you for that subtle, but personally motivated, ego-tripping cheap shot...
.........Okay WhyGuy, if you insist.........THANK YOU geek.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Apr 10, 2017
We do not need more weapons.

We need more psychologists.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2017
And did this media originate on tatooine or somewhere in this galaxy?

It originated with the same people that Tatooine originated from. And if we're dealing with a fictional weapon then I'd say the people who came up with it have the final say on how they supposedly work.
The jedi call them light savers not plasma sabers.

Note that they didn't call them laser sabres, either.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2017
It originated with the same people that Tatooine originated from. And if we're dealing with a fictional weapon then I'd say the people who came up with it have the final say on how they supposedly work
Just to be sure I think I would need a link to confirm that the fictional explanation for this fictional weapon originated from the people who originally conceived it.

Hope its not a bother.

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