There's no fricking laser beams attached to sharks, but Dr. Evil might still be jealous. The U.S. Navy wants to test a high-powered laser against the threat of small boats or even jet skis carrying RPG-wielding riders.
Northrop Grumman came away with the $98-million contract for the Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) in early July. Next up: installing a prototype of the laser on a ship and testing it on a remote-controlled small boat within the next 18 months.
This may sound like overkill, but the Navy's excitement over the weapon comes from its "graduated response" capability. The same laser can first identify potentially threatening watercraft, and then use illumination to warn the intruder away from Navy warships. As a last resort, the laser can dial up to high-power mode and strike either the craft's motor or hull.
Such small craft have already proven a threat during the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole. Hostile groups such as Somali pirates also commonly prey on shipping by using fast-attack boats, despite a wide variety of low and high tech tactics being used against them.
MLD has already achieved an output of 105 kw during early testing, but there's a ways to go before it's ready for sea trials. Northrop Grumman told Aviation Week's DTI that aerosolized ocean spray and other factors could scatter the solid-state laser beam.
Still, the U.S. Air Force has its flying laser cannon, and the Army also wants to deploy a defensive laser. So perhaps it was inevitable that the Navy would want to give the futuristic weapon a try.
[via Aviation Week]
Boeing recently did a successful 'in flight' test of their ATL, not to mention the Army's tests of both a mobile and static system [the fixed system has been around for quite awhile...].
The next BIG thing: Princeton's 'quantum cascade laser'.
Interesting... But i'm wondering : what happen to the engine ? Does it explode ? Does it melt down ? Or does it broke ?
More than likely the engine would melt, and then the fuel would reach flash point then catch fire. Because there is no compression I doubt there would be an explosion but it would certainly destroy the engine. It would be lethal if pointed at a human... which... I'm ok with...
Good idea. They should use this on all jet skiers.
..."aerosolized ocean spray and other factors could scatter the solid-state laser beam"...thanks for the hint about ways of defending against this!
Couldn't defraction be used (mirrors or glass) to counter this weapon also? Or are they just going to make it powerful enough to disintegrate anything the laser is set on...?
giant lasers could be used against invading aliens easily.
i thought lasers were ridiculously expensive. Sorry but isnt a sniper rifle in the hands of a skilled gunman cheaper and better?
for countermeasures mirrors could only be used it the heat was deliverd purly throu light
it would not however work if the heat was conveyed trou air or any other medium
teh lasers would only work agenst incoming aliens if it was throu the medium of light giving them an easy defense and posibly a counter attqack agenst the earth
I absolutely want our military forces to have everything they need to do their jobs and to protect themselves.
But this . . . well, let's think about "graduated response."
1. It can help identify the boat. Uh -- whatever happened to eyeballs and binoculars, at least during daylight? And at night, how will a laser be better than radar?
2. It can be used to illuminate the suspect boat to warn it off. Don't naval ships have deck guns, at least many of them? And if one doesn't, what about whatever automatic rifles are available to sailors and any marines aboard? Ignorant pirates might not even understand a lasar as a warning; what's wrong with a couple shots across the bow??? -- they damn sure understand THAT, especially if the shots come from a warship.
3. Then the laser can be used as a weapon. See Number 2.
I just doesn't see $98,000,000 for a laser -- no, excuse me, a *demonstration* of said laser.
According to a search engine I just used, there are about 490,000 people in the Navy and 174,000 in the Marines, though I couldn't find out how many of those were officers. Anyway, excluding officers (let's say they number about 10%), leaving 597,600 enlisted personnel. Give the enlisted ranks a straight-up equal bonus, regardless of rank, job, length of service, etc. etc. etc. Works out to right at 164 bucks a head for every single enlisted sailor. THAT would make them happy (for at least one, um, "festive" shore leave!!!). The CNO could just announce the Navy had bought a Power Ball Lotto ticket on behalf of the entire enlisted corps and it had hit the jackpot. (And tell the IRS to keep their cottonpickin' hands off it.)
Sigh. . . .