Video: Military tech slowly approaching awesomeness of Death Star weaponry

posted at 9:29 pm on July 20, 2010 by Allahpundit

Something we can all unite behind after a long day of contentiousness: Battleships with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

‘This is more real than Star Wars,’ said Mike Booen, president of Directed Energy Weapons at Raytheon…

Although the idea of laser guns has been around since laser was invented in 1960, the old method of producing a beam from a chemical reaction was far too cumbersome and impractical for military use.

Solid state lasers, such as the ones used in the tests, are much smaller and more compact and generated through glass or ceramic material. It is only recently, however, that the solid state lasers were able to generate as much power as the chemical equivalent…

‘Airbases in Afghanistan, the Green Zone in Baghdad or the border with Gaza and Israel could all potentially use something like this,’ he added.

Problems dogging laser weapons in the past have been that damp weather conditions tend to slow down the beam before it reaches its target and reflective surfaces can throw it off course.

They’ve used lasers to hit targets before; the fact that this one hit a moving target over water is what’s cause for celebration. How glorious it’ll be to have weapons this insanely awesome in development when the Pentagon’s budget inevitably is cut waaaay back as part our grand national austerity plan a few years down the road. Good luck with it, China!


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I have little doubt someone in the Obama admin will scale this back in the name of making our enemies feel more secure.

rob verdi on July 20, 2010 at 9:35 PM

As I said when this was on Headlines last night: Ahhh yeahh!!

thomasaur on July 20, 2010 at 9:35 PM

good thing we’re cutting back on our space program & stuff these days. Maybe some young Muslim boy, inspired by the NASA chief who’s mission it is to bolster his self-esteem, can go get a DARPA grant and build hisself a laser too./

ted c on July 20, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Something we can all unite behind after a long day of contentiousness: Battleships with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Well, at least until Obama and the Dems cancel it for being ‘imperialist’ tools.

AUINSC on July 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Works great. So long as the target is moving slowly and level. It seems like it’s effects could be diminished quickly just by flying erratically and breaking contact.

Guardian on July 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM

I believe that the laser is actually a CO2 laser. Very powerful and emits heat (Infrared). It essentially burns a hole in its target.

Electrongod on July 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM

How glorious it’ll be to have weapons this insanely awesome in development when the Pentagon’s budget inevitably is cut waaaay back as part our grand national austerity plan a few years down the road. Good luck with it, China!

Yup. And that’s pretty depressing.

On a more optimistic note:

Honey ! I know what I want for deer season !!!

BowHuntingTexas on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Another Reason the Jihadis wont win. Our light burns away their darkness.

William Amos on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Works great. So long as the target is moving slowly and level. It seems like it’s effects could be diminished quickly just by flying erratically and breaking contact.

Baby steps. First we hit the slow, level target, then we hit the fast, shifting target, and then we destroy Alderaan.

Allahpundit on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

How glorious it’ll be to have weapons this insanely awesome in development when the Pentagon’s budget inevitably is cut waaaay back as part our grand national austerity plan a few years down the road.

There almost certainly isn’t going to be a national austerity plan; and if there is one it will be implemented far too weak, too late, and not enforced enough. The backlash from such a strong plan along such lines would make Greece’s current unrest look like a domestic disturbance.\

Tech like this is fairly likely to be abandoned either when the libtards do another round of their ‘budget balancing’, or when the nation just plain runs out of money.

I can’t even get excited about stuff like this anymore…all I can think is “Awesome. So my chances of ever seeing it put into action are, what, about the same as winning the lottery?”

Dark-Star on July 20, 2010 at 9:38 PM

It looked like the laser light was emitted from the drone. Visually not very impressive. What we need is a laser canon.

keep the change on July 20, 2010 at 9:38 PM

BTW, if Putin and China and Iran don’t like it…well, you know Obama will hit the rest switch on this baby.

AUINSC on July 20, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Ok, just read AP’s link. They say it is a solid state laser. I am out-of-date on my laser knowledge.

Electrongod on July 20, 2010 at 9:39 PM

BTW, if Putin and China and Iran don’t like it…well, you know Obama will hit the rest switch on this baby.

AUINSC on July 20, 2010 at 9:38 PM

BTW, don’t you know we are out of money…we can’t afford defense anymore…it’s a luxury.

AUINSC on July 20, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Please. Piss my wife off enough that plane would have disintegrated seconds earlier.

lorien1973 on July 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM

…and I just noticed the company behind it all. I’m going to apply to them as soon as I get home from the family reunion. Truly is a small world.

Dark-Star on July 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Good stuff.

Zorro on July 20, 2010 at 9:41 PM

I saw this on FutureWeapons on the Hist channel.

It’s called the THEL.

fossten on July 20, 2010 at 9:42 PM

What’s the over/under on Obama et all canceling this?

aikidoka on July 20, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Works great. So long as the target is moving slowly and level. It seems like it’s effects could be diminished quickly just by flying erratically and breaking contact.

Guardian on July 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM

That`s what the tractor beam is for.

ThePrez on July 20, 2010 at 9:44 PM

Another Reason the Jihadis wont win. Our light burns away their darkness.

William Amos on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

And hopefully their heads.

Oldnuke on July 20, 2010 at 9:44 PM

How well does it make popcorn? Elections are coming up.

GnuBreed on July 20, 2010 at 9:44 PM

I will patent the first anti-laser counter measure;

A mirror.

Electrongod on July 20, 2010 at 9:45 PM

…as part our grand national austerity plan a few years down the road.

This is our grand national austerity plan. It’s just in stealth mode at the moment.

SlaveDog on July 20, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Can it be reflected by a mirror in space back to Earth on a black box? Say…the Ka’baa?

Inanemergencydial on July 20, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Something we can all unite behind after a long day of contentiousness: Battleships with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Um, in nautical terminology a “head” refers to a bathroom.

FloatingRock on July 20, 2010 at 9:46 PM

just give me that shoulder mounted plasma cannon the Predator uses. That should be protected under the second amendment.

Daemonocracy on July 20, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Baby steps. First we hit the slow, level target, then we hit the fast, shifting target, and then we destroy Alderaan.

Allahpundit on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Yeah. But Alderaan is a huge dumb sitting target….sort of like Meggie Mac.

*ducks*

Guardian on July 20, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Real Genius

Inanemergencydial on July 20, 2010 at 9:47 PM

The power of this laser is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Bishop on July 20, 2010 at 9:48 PM

Electrongod on July 20, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Doesn’t quite work like that.

lorien1973 on July 20, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Baby steps. First we hit the slow, level target, then we hit the fast, shifting target, and then we destroy Alderaan.

Allahpundit on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Witness the power of this fully-operational battle station!

steveegg on July 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Extremely O/T Allah
But you gotta see this
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=7565979&rss=rss-kgo-video-7565979
the spin has started here and its getting ugly

macncheez on July 20, 2010 at 9:54 PM

So if it’s working does that mean Barney Frank will have the project killed so that he and Barry have more money to spend on ‘social justice’?

GarandFan on July 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Um, in nautical terminology a “head” refers to a bathroom.

FloatingRock on July 20, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Even better (I’ll let the imagination work on that one :-)

steveegg on July 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Future budgetary issues aside…how long until they can replicate the SPARTAN Laser? ;-}

Dark-Star on July 20, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Does anyone know where to send flowers to the family of the pilot…?

/

Seven Percent Solution on July 20, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Seven Percent Solution on July 20, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Humpbot’s wife is still in mourning.

lorien1973 on July 20, 2010 at 10:01 PM

Seems that this would be a good terrorist tool. Skyscrapers and passenger jets are less safe.

PrezHussein on July 20, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Problems dogging laser weapons in the past have been that damp weather conditions tend to slow down the beam before it reaches its target and reflective surfaces can throw it off course.

Damp weather conditions and general water vapor that is. Come on…say it! This fricken’ laser is a global warming machine!

Electrongod on July 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM

I’m sorry, but this is useless. We already have ground-to-air (in this case, ship-to-air) missiles perfectly capable of destroying aircraft, including drones. Look how long it took the laser to kill the drone. A missile would have killed it a second.

I love energy weapons, but the sad truth is that they require immense amounts of energy to function competitively with mature kinetic technology, i.e., bullets/bombs/missiles. That amount of energy is expensive, difficult to handle, and hard to provide, especially in the limited confines of a ship, which can’t carry a hydroelectric dam with it.

Research must continue. But we’re making baby steps so far.

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Witness the power of this fully-operational battle station!

steveegg on July 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM

I just have to believe that after the Captain gave the order to “Fire”…

… that his XO said those exact same words to the delight of the bridge crew.

Seven Percent Solution on July 20, 2010 at 10:09 PM

Battleships with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

And it was not a “battleship”, of that I can assure you. Sheesh.

drunyan8315 on July 20, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Seems that this would be a good terrorist tool. Skyscrapers and passenger jets are less safe.

PrezHussein on July 20, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Not when it requires tools, skills and parts far beyond the average terror group’s ability to steal/buy/copy.

I do admit that some day we may have to worry about this kind of weapon, when it becomes smaller and cheaper and simpler to make. But for now we ought to be more concerned about terrorists threatening innocent aircraft with modern shoulder-launched SAMs.

Dark-Star on July 20, 2010 at 10:12 PM

Let not Allahpundit sway thee.

His REAL aim?

To make you go to HotAir..

from space!

In the meantime, amuse yourselves with one of these:

BemusedMalkinite on July 20, 2010 at 10:16 PM

How will this help with nation building? Doesn’t seem very COIN friendly at all. How will it serve the Afghan people?

Luka on July 20, 2010 at 10:21 PM

I love energy weapons, but the sad truth is that they require immense amounts of energy to function competitively with mature kinetic technology, i.e., bullets/bombs/missiles. That amount of energy is expensive, difficult to handle, and hard to provide, especially in the limited confines of a ship, which can’t carry a hydroelectric dam with it.

Research must continue. But we’re making baby steps so far.

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM

So basically you seem to be saying that these laser weapons are to video rangers like solar panels and windmills are to global warmists.

Luka on July 20, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM

The Navy IS building the DDG-1000, which uses a hybrid electric drive. It’s designed with enough power overhead to potentially replace the main 155mm guns with electromagnetic railguns (in development, too, but not nearly as mature as even this) so this small application shouldn’t be a problem.

Hey I gotta cheerlead it a little bit. I just got hired on to help develop training and maintenance solutions for the entire combat system on that class.

JeffWeimer on July 20, 2010 at 10:28 PM

Railguns!?! I’ll be in my bunk.

Seriously, I’d love to see a railgun that can fire more than one shot without destroying its own rails in the process.

Anyway, JeffWeimer, congrats on getting the job (especially in this economic climate), and best of luck with it.

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Well, all the publicity means the moonbats will be outside the Tucson plant protesting Monday morning. Usually about 1/2 dozen of them, sadsack looking bunch with signs that say things like, “Money for schools, not war”, etc. Every once in a while they have something unintentionally ironically delicious such as “Raytheon missiles cause harm from far away” — BINGO!, that’s kind of the point. Another good one was, “Your livelihood, their lives” — Again, another great slogan if you apply the “their lives” to American soldiers.

AZfederalist on July 20, 2010 at 10:58 PM

Battleships with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

You mean warships, not battleships. The world’s last battleship was launched in 1944, and the last serving battleship (in mothballs at the time) was sticken from the US Navy registry in 2006.

bgoldman on July 20, 2010 at 11:15 PM

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:57 PM

That’s one of the things they’re working on, I believe. But they have successfully tested it.

JeffWeimer on July 20, 2010 at 11:31 PM

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:57 PM

It was pure serendipity finding that position. I’m retiring from the Navy next month, this position needed my military skill set, and networking paid off big time – a recently hired friend tipped me and my boss off to each other.

JeffWeimer on July 20, 2010 at 11:36 PM

Not quite laser awesome, but still pretty awesome.

BallisticBob on July 20, 2010 at 11:38 PM

“It’s Day 74 and President Barack Obama is laser-focused on the gulf oil spill”

I sure hope this military laser doesn’t learn from example.

Electrongod on July 20, 2010 at 11:45 PM

I know lasers and the problems with high energy densities are HUGE. If that’s been conquered, great things can come of it.

These things can never be small or light, thus not a great tool for terrorists.

But coordinated arrays of them could stop anything. And mirrors don’t help much unless you know the exact frequency of the laser.

All that said, this is way to classified for anything in this piece to be trustworthy.

Pythagoras on July 21, 2010 at 12:04 AM

How glorious it’ll be to have weapons this insanely awesome in development when the Pentagon’s budget inevitably is cut waaaay back as part our grand national austerity plan a few years down the road. Good luck with it, China!

Gah! To watch something so awesome only to have my heart torn out.

You are a cruel man! LOL!!!

Yakko77 on July 21, 2010 at 12:05 AM

Baby steps. First we hit the slow, level target, then we hit the fast, shifting target, and then we destroy Alderaan.

Allahpundit on July 20, 2010 at 9:37 PM

We already have the evil emperor… why not?

dominigan on July 21, 2010 at 12:10 AM

I always temper my excitement over new US Anti-Aircraft devices with one word.

Fratricide!

The motto of my SIL Air Defense Artilleryman. “If it flies, it dies!”

Seriously cool though.

hawkdriver on July 21, 2010 at 12:18 AM

Get back to me when they mount it on my flying car and sex-bot.

AaronGuzman on July 21, 2010 at 1:03 AM

Get back to me when they start building a Stargate to explore the galaxy…:lol

Cool laser weapon though….can’t wait for the Robotech Mechs,particle beam weapons,magnetic shields and Space fold drives too…;)

dec5 on July 21, 2010 at 1:15 AM

I’m sorry, but this is useless. We already have ground-to-air (in this case, ship-to-air) missiles perfectly capable of destroying aircraft, including drones. Look how long it took the laser to kill the drone. A missile would have killed it a second.

It appears to me that the laser pulse was short, at the beginning of the clip. The fire spread and drone crashed. If this is so, it could have acquired and destroyed quite a few additional targets with the “slow step” being moving the turret and software routines. I put my money on that being faster than the boost phase of an interceptor missle. (plus, you aren’t storing or paying for the “smart” interceptor missles.)

I love energy weapons, but the sad truth is that they require immense amounts of energy … hard to provide, especially in the limited confines of a ship, which can’t carry a hydroelectric dam with it.

A nuclear vessel has plenty of electricity.

WWCathodeRay on July 21, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Works great. So long as the target is moving slowly and level. It seems like it’s effects could be diminished quickly just by flying erratically and breaking contact.
Guardian on July 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Don’t think that was part of the test cuz that’s not a real problem.
Gun mounts that can track, lock and shoot planes flying ACM’s have been around for some time now.

The Phalanx CIWS (CIWS is pronounced Sea-whiz) uses a radar-guided 20mm Gatling gun and is very good. The Phalanx is made by Raytheon as is this new laser.

This new laser will use the Phalanx CIWS gun mount.

If this story is real, what the laser offers is “range of engagement”.

The current range of the Phalanx CIWS is a couple of miles. An incoming missile going mach 5 cover 2 miles in a heartbeat.

Currently the Phalanx CIWS is being used on the ground in Iraq and A-stan to shoot down incoming rockets and mortars.

The ground based system is called C-RAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar)

Test showed that C-RAM had a 60 to 70 percent shoot-down capability, which is better than “no” shoot-down capability.

DSchoen on July 21, 2010 at 1:40 AM

Israel had considered this system a few years ago for the Gaza border. They dropped it. According to system proponents, because of political issues.

Phoenician on July 21, 2010 at 1:44 AM

This is waaay better!

Rightwingguy on July 21, 2010 at 2:53 AM

Initially I thought the video had “WOrship Laser” written in the lower left…

I like it.

tree hugging sister on July 21, 2010 at 7:59 AM

Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you have constructed…
Unless I can get a lightsaber out of the deal. Then I am all in….

LTC John on July 21, 2010 at 8:05 AM

So what were they saying about the Star Wars program having been impractical again? LOL

Ryan Anthony on July 21, 2010 at 8:16 AM

PPC’s or Partical Projectile Cannons are next. Yea Baby!!!

mechkiller_k on July 21, 2010 at 8:56 AM

Yea, Obama will hit the reset button on this one for sure.

Captain America on July 21, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Somebody earlier commented that it works great as long as the target is flying straight and slow. He implied tracking is the problem.

I disagree, tracking is merely a computer processing application. The most basic problem is a lack of energy. A ship can not afford to spend 15 seconds disabling a missle,especially when being simultaneously attacked by 5-15 exocet missles and having only a few lasers.

The power needs to increase by at least an order of magnitude.

rspock on July 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM

WHAT IS the target?

Weird looking thing. It looks like a flying wing, delta shape. I see no distinct fuselage or vertical/horizontal stabilizer assembly (tho, it may be buried in the flames). As far as I know, the only vehicles of this nature that are cheap enough to use as targets are in fact, just model aircraft – very small targets and very destructible. No way to discern size or means of propulsion from the vid.

What is shot down is as relevant to the assessment of the efficacy of this weapon as the very fact it shot something down.

Help me, here – anybody recognize this thing?

Cricket624 on July 21, 2010 at 1:34 PM

I’m sorry, but this is useless. We already have ground-to-air (in this case, ship-to-air) missiles perfectly capable of destroying aircraft, including drones. Look how long it took the laser to kill the drone. A missile would have killed it a second.

It was a 32-kilowatt infrared laser. Not being able to see the beam, we do not know how long the target was illuminated.

I love energy weapons, but the sad truth is that they require immense amounts of energy to function competitively with mature kinetic technology, i.e., bullets/bombs/missiles. That amount of energy is expensive, difficult to handle, and hard to provide, especially in the limited confines of a ship, which can’t carry a hydroelectric dam with it.

A late model Ticonderoga class cruiser only carries 122 missiles, and The Block 1A and newer CIWS mounts fire at a rate of 4,500 rounds per minute and have a integral 1,550 round magazine, allowing the gun to fire for only 20 and 2/3 seconds before requiring a reload.
It was only a 32-kilowatt infrared laser. Even assuming only a 50% efficiency a remote, 100 hp generator and 2 gallons of fuel will provide many more shots.

Research must continue.

I agree.

But we’re making baby steps so far.

Bartrams Garden on July 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM

This thing is about to ask to borrow the car.

Also A often forgotten advantage of an air defense laser, is that you do not have to worry where your spent projectiles will come down.

Slowburn on July 21, 2010 at 3:30 PM