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Laser Weapons
February 17, 2002 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Laser Weapons like in Real Genius, but for real! Combine them with GPS and you get Death Rays!! The technology is there, but how will it change warfare? (via drudge :)
posted by kliuless (11 comments total)

 
Lasers should (and probably will) have relatively limited use on the battlefield because of humanitarian issues. Much like land mines and acoustic weapons, lasers tend to wound, not kill. It's generally acceptible to kill your opponent in a conflict, but not torture and maim him.
posted by tcobretti at 7:26 AM on February 17, 2002


I was under the impression that the use of laser systems was heavily constrained by weather conditions. Due to the nature of light, even very high-powered beams of coherent light, a laser weapon's effectiveness is adversely affected by diffusion when passing through atmospheric obstructions like clouds and fog. Maybe this was only true of systems that use light in the visible spectrum, not X-rays?
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:07 AM on February 17, 2002


"Can you nail a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?"
"Not right now."
"A girl's gotta have her standards."
posted by bingo at 9:41 AM on February 17, 2002


What's interesting in this announcement isn't so much the deployment of laser weapons, but that they're going to be carried on a mobile offensive platform like the Spectre. These AC-130 gunships were one of the stars of the Afghan war, with the close air support to special operations teams, and while it's not surprising that there is a next-generation version in the works -- the Hercules is a 40-year-old aircraft, and except for advanced fire control, so is most of the gunnery it carries -- but that it's getting such a "cool" weapon. It must be like the AC-130 Spectre program manager just got moved from the office in the basement under the leaky steam pipe to a window office with a perky secretary and -- get this -- coffee. That doesn't come from a vending machine. Anyway, the interesting part is that they feel they can successfully fit the power plant into the airplane at all.
posted by dhartung at 9:57 AM on February 17, 2002


Due to the nature of light, even very high-powered beams of coherent light, a laser weapon's effectiveness is adversely affected by diffusion when passing through atmospheric obstructions like clouds and fog.

I discovered this the hard way after spending years of my life and untold millions of dollars to construct and deploy my own doomsday weapon.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:25 AM on February 17, 2002


The best usage of laser weapons has always been, and will always remain, a weapon with which to temporarily or permenantly blind enemy soldiers. I particularly like the Soviet system that used an advanced camera to locate the glint of binoculars, and a high power laser to give the offending interloper an eyefull. As I recall, their DSP technology wasn't advanced enough to pull it off.

Our technology is definitely advanced enough, and has been for years.
posted by Ptrin at 10:32 AM on February 17, 2002


I discovered this the hard way after spending years of my life and untold millions of dollars to construct and deploy my own doomsday weapon.

Ha! Dr. StrangeWebb, we meet again...
posted by MrBaliHai at 11:19 AM on February 17, 2002


Anyway, the interesting part is that they feel they can successfully fit the power plant into the airplane at all.

Well, they've been working on the Airborne Laser (a bigger laser in a 747 to shoot down ballistic missiles) for a couple of years now, and seem to be chugging along reasonably well. Chemical lasers are comparatively compact and lightweight when compared with electrically-powered lasers.

I'm more suprised by the assertion that they're considering laser weapons for an AC-130 class platform. It doesn't seem like a good match for the capabilities of a laser (very high accuracy at the expense of energy on target). At the ranges the AC-130 engages targets from, and for the type of targets in question, laser-guided rockets would make much more sense.

I'd bet ten bucks that the reporter for the Guardian is confused.
posted by jaek at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2002


would you classify that as a launch problem or a design problem?
posted by pxe2000 at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2002


Anyway, the interesting part is that they feel they can successfully fit the power plant into the airplane at all.

That airframe has got a lot of space. A few years ago I sat down and worked out, with help from a fuel-technician friend, that it would be just possible to persuade one filled with steam-boilers and powdered coal to lift off the ground and fly slightly above stalling speed for about 150 miles. (This was for a book about a post-apocalypse world where the oil had run out. They used goose-fat to lubricate the engine.)

The story's not from the Guardian, Jaek, it's from the Telegraph.
posted by Hogshead at 6:05 PM on February 17, 2002


Hogshead, do you mind me meddling my nose in your affairs by asking the book's name?
posted by Why at 9:05 PM on February 17, 2002


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