Lasers can be powerful weapons — they can take down an aircraft at long ranges and in unstable conditions, for instance. But they are hampered by power and size limits, so they're not widely used by the military (yet).
Lockheed Martin has a solution: a fiber laser that basically works like a backward prism.
Lockheed is among three firms recently awarded contracts to develop a laser for the military's Robust Electric Laser Initiative, which seeks to improve the power of electric lasers. Fiber lasers are efficient and compact, but until now they have been weaker than other types, like chemical lasers. The RELI program seeks to improve laser strength while reducing power and cooling, so systems can be small enough to install on ships or airplanes.
A Lockheed subsidiary developed a first-of-its-kind high-powered fiber laser capable of producing 100 kilowatts or more, according to Lockheed. It uses fiber optics to produce near-perfect beams. The method also confines the laser light to the fiber's glass structure without using mirrors or other optics.
John Wojnar, director of business development for the laser systems business, said in a September issue of Aviation Week that it works like a inverse prism: lasers with slightly different wavelengths enter a combiner, and the result is a single, focused beam. It's called Spectral Beam Combining.
Lockheed won an initial $14 million contract from the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command to develop the system. Along with General Atomics and Raytheon, the firm must demonstrate a 25 kW system that can be scaled up to 100 kW within five years.
General Atomics will improve its Hellads distributed-gain laser approach to improve efficiency, while Raytheon will pursue a planar waveguide laser, according to Aviation Week.
Northrop Grumman is also expected to obtain a RELI contract.
"according to Lockheed. It uses fiber optics to produce near-perfect beams. The method also confines the laser light to the fiber’s glass structure without using mirrors or other optics"
To use the different frequency of light to combine them into a laser is a big achievement because most laser are monochromic, one light wave. The more we learn to combine light waves from different spectrums into a coherent beam of light the less energy needed resulting in a huge increase in efficiency.
This also has commercial applications in Earth Based Beam Energy where instead of the huge uncontrolled solar arrays in space that will cost trillions of dollars just to launch, we simply beam the energy from anywhere in the world off a reflector in space to the customer. Any energy, renewable or nonrenewable, can be transmitted this way making the huge cost of transmission lines and pipelines a non-issue.
See "Proposal to Beam Untapped and Hard to Transport Energy to Any Location on Earth" here:
Army rolls a $14 million dollar laser weapon only to be thwarted by an enemy holding $10 mirror. LOL. When will these millitary apes ever learn. Use brains over brawn.
Just like holding up a ballistics plate will stop you from getting shot.
Just like holding up a ballistics plate will stop you from getting shot"
was just about to say that, and besides no mirror is perfect, it will heat up, lose its reflectivity, and the laser will break through. likely all within a fraction of a second
I concur. No mirror has 100% reflectivity.
it looks like something out of Half Life.
SOME BODY GRAB MY DAMN PHASER ALREADY please!
damn military always has the best toys.
well, the 10 dollar mirror would probably vaporize in a matter or seconds with a high powered laser, due to the plasma generated around the laser beam
I wonder if they are using an array of nichia 445nm diodes?
I corrected your statement.
Just like holding up a ballistics plate will stop you from getting shot by a tank"
This laser-if it is as good as they say it is- would make modern warfare even more difficult. Imagine half a dozen aircrafts equiped with these lasers in a dogfight. I wonder how it would end.
Next in the news: Scientists discover 16 new ways to kill someone – all created in the name of “peace” for “enlightenment” and the “advancement of man-kind.”
Until all of man-kind is united with a common enemy, we will continue to simply point these weapons at ourselves.
Where are the alien invaders already?! We need an intergalactic war so that we as a species can put away our petty differences and can finally be united in peace. Oh the irony.
I think the prerequisite for every scientific discovery is that is has military application.
modern warfare is already difficult thats why i play halo
Hummmm. Inverse combiner prism thingy? Dilithium crystal anyone?
It's a chemical laser but in solid, not gaseous, form. Put simply, in deference to you, Kent, it's like lasing a stick of dynamite. As soon as we apply a field, we couple to a state, it is radiatively coupled to the ground state. I figure we can extract at least ten to the twenty-first photons per cubic centimeter which will give one kilojoule per cubic centimeter at 600 nanometers, or, one megajoule per liter.
How will an enemy jet fighter know exactly when and from which direction the beam will come?
What does the enemy pilot do? Pop the canopy and hold out a handmirror? But covering which part of the aircraft? Shall he run around the exterior of the vehicle for the duration of the flight, never knowing when that 3 second burst will arrive and which part of the craft it will impact?
Questions for those with knowledge on lasers.
Assuming a 100kW laser of this type, what are you looking at as far as beam duration? And how quickly would you estimate that kind of beam could destroy, say, a B-52, assuming you could lock it on to the cockpit or fuel tank?
not even a intergalactic war would bring peace, all sides would still be fighting for power. the only way to find peace is for the human race to give up its need for power and control.
the problem is peace means everyone is equal and that's something alot of people don't like at all and as long as there are people who want to be better then others you'll never have peace.
I believe that extensive military simulations have already answered this question. Eventually, the dogfight would boil down to a single, plucky pilot being chased down a narrow trench by a powerful military leader and his two wingmen.
At the last possible second, a surprisingly fast cargo freighter would swoop in from behind to provide cover fire, allowing the plucky pilot to complete his mission.
Waitasec... that would make a GREAT movie!
So you spend a hundered bucks, and have 10 layers of mirrors at different angles. The laser is bound to lose some hitting power. But I guess the suprise is what gives it the advantage.
They stole my idea!
I hope I can watch the YouTube video of some kook standing there holding a $10 mirror when this ray hits it. Actually, I'd pay "tree fiddy" to see it.
If in space, the mirrors can be made of a superconductive material that can be connected via superconductive cable to a large heat sink. This will help dissipate the heat. BTW... this was loosely taken from the third book in the Ringworld series.
Also, covering something in highly reflective surfaces makes it A GIANT SHINEY TARGET for conventional weapons.
For every measure a counter measure will be developed. I predict this will come in the area of electromagnetic fields to deflect the incoming energy beam insted of trying to absorb it. In space a dampening field may work to absorb the energy but in our atmosphere it will need to be redirected away from its intended target. Maybe even back to the original source.
Ideally, the aircraft-that-may-be-a-target should be covered in a retro-reflective skin overlayed by radar-absorbing material.
When struck by a damaging laser, the radar-absorbing material will burn off nearly immediately, exposing the retroreflector second-layer immediately underneath which will send enough of the laser energy back to the originating aircraft or facility to probably damage the emitter's focusing optics, aiming or atmospheric-distortion-compensators.
The retroreflector-skin won't last long, but long enough to send most of the energy it receives exactly back to the origin, which is extremely unlikely to be armored to withstand a hit from some significant fraction of its own energy level.
The net result is that the aircraft will have lost a few cm2 of radar-absorbing material, exposing a now-damaged retroreflector underneath, which hopefully is built to be transparent to radar or your slightly-scratched aircraft will show up like a harbor radar beacon to any radar system that is looking at the side of the aircraft with the scratch.
At these beam energies, any small fraction reflected back can blind friend and foe alike. This is the primary reason high energy laser weapons have limited battlefield applications. Synchronized switch-off googles might protect the operating crew but other friendlies would be exposed. Even if the laser operates outside the visible wavelengths, eye damage, as well as damage to instrumentation, would be widespread.
reminds me of a james bond movie with a giant ABL clearing a minefield.