Star Wars tobecome reality as US Navy on course to arm ship with laser
The laser directs a beamof energy that can burn through a target or fry sensitive electronics
Some of the US Navy’s futuristic weapons sound like somethingout of Star Wars, with lasers designed to shoot down aerial drones and electricguns that fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds.
The Navy plansto deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test anelectromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
For the Navy,it’s not so much about the whizz-bangtechnology as it is about the economics. Both are cheap comparedwith missiles and smart bombs, and they can be fired continuously.
“It fundamentallychanges the way we fight,” said Captain Mike Ziv,programme manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the NavalSea Systems Command.The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the pointwhere a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can beoperated by a single sailor, he said.
The solid-statelaser weapon system is designed to target “asymmetrical threats”. These include aerial drones, speedboats and swarmboats, all threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, wherethe Ponce, a staging base, will be deployed.
Rail guns fire a projectile at six or seventimes the speed of sound – enough velocity to cause severe damage. The Navy sees them asreplacing or supplementing old-school guns.
But bothsystems have shortcomings. Lasers tend to lose their effectiveness if it’s raining, dusty, or if there is turbulence inthe atmosphere, and the rail gun requires vast amounts ofelectricity to launch the projectile.
Producingenough energy for a rail gun is another problem. The Navy’s new destroyer, the Zumwalt is the onlyship with enough electric power to run one. The stealth ship’s gas turbine-powered generators can produce up to 78megawatts – enough electricity for a medium-sized city.
The Navy’s laser directs a beam of energy that canburn through a target or fry sensitive electronics.
The targeting system locks on to the target,sending a beam of searing heat. “You see the effect on what you are targeting, but you don’t see the actual beam,” Capt Ziv said.
Other countriesare developing their own lasers, but the US Navy is more advanced at thispoint.
“It’sfair to say there are other countries working on this technology,” Capt Ziv said.
“I would also say that a lotof what makes this successful came from the way in which we consolidated all ofthe complexity into something that can be operated by [a single sailor],” he said.
Letter_from_Captain_Swing 1 days agoSo Ronald the Lifeguard'sStar Wars programme is finally finished ? 30 years and well over budget, thiswill definitely give the USSR something to think about.
Marcus_RM 24 hours agoLaser tech has come a long way in the last 30years. accurate guidance & moving target locking tech still is still aproblem that they have to resolve with a "fire and forget" weapon thatwill ever go in a straight line.
Marsinah Jawa 2 days agoWonderful news about productivity. The cost ofkilling people greatly reduced.
Jack Jazz 1 days agoAnd I know just how you rightards love readingabout new ways to kill people. But for now do us all a favour sunshine turn offyour Xbox finish your can special brew and go to bed!
ecocoop1 2 days agoAh well China will have it by next week!
Zzarzax 2 days agoAlready stolen it!
Les. Hayward 2 days agoCome on - they probably supplied the kit!