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First Test Fire of an Airborne Laser
BBC ^ | 17:52 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008 | staff

Posted on 12/04/2008 11:54:17 PM PST by gandalftb

The US military has carried out the first test-firing of a laser weapon system housed aboard a 747 plane.

The Airborne Laser (ABL) was conceived to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles in the early stages of their flight.

An airborne intercept of an in-flight ballistic missile is planned for 2009.

Scientists are reported to be working out other uses for the flying weapon - which could help secure continued funding. These extra missions include shooting down surface-to-air missiles, cruise missiles and even enemy aircraft.

A laser beam travelled the length of the aircraft at 670 million miles per hour.

It raced from the aft section, through the beam control and fire control system, and out through the nose-mounted turret.

After acquiring and locking on to the target, a second, high-power laser fires a three-to-five-second burst from the turret in the 747's nose.

Against solid-fuel ICBMs the useful range would be about 300km.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.bbc.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: aerospace; boeing; laser; ronaldreagan; ronaldusmagnus; sdi; starwars; weapon
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Hmmm, useful range of 180 miles (300km). Airborne in a 747. "Extra" missions may include enemy aircraft......

This could be the game-changer.

The Air Force has no user requirements for laser weapons on bomber platforms, and the technology is “still several generations away” from even integrating it onto strike platforms such as gunships, a service acquisition official told "Inside the Air Force" last month.

Gonna come a day, enemy offensive missiles will be useless.

1 posted on 12/04/2008 11:54:17 PM PST by gandalftb
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To: gandalftb

“Gonna come a day, enemy offensive missiles will be useless.”
It will be easier to sleep then but don’t forget even the best gates don’t protect from the enemies within.


2 posted on 12/04/2008 11:57:19 PM PST by Eyes Unclouded (We won't ever free our guns but be sure we'll let them triggers go....)
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To: gandalftb

Or simply make the missiles highly reflective - just like the mirrors in the laser to begin with...


3 posted on 12/05/2008 12:01:01 AM PST by DB
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To: gandalftb

670 million miles per hour? Why not just say the speed of light?


4 posted on 12/05/2008 12:02:30 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (Barack Obama: In Error and arrogant -- he's errogant!)
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To: gandalftb

5 posted on 12/05/2008 12:02:58 AM PST by ari-freedom (Conservatives solve problems. Libertarians ignore problems. Liberals create problems.)
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To: Eyes Unclouded
Amen, when this is perfected, and it will, all enemies will be done with any and all airborne weapons platforms.

They will have to rely on low tech, infiltration attacks. But this puts the Iranians and Russians and their ilk out of the air threat business.

What ever cheap shots our enemies do, they'll do it walking.

6 posted on 12/05/2008 12:03:31 AM PST by gandalftb (An appeaser feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last......)
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To: gandalftb

yeah but Obama won :(


7 posted on 12/05/2008 12:05:15 AM PST by ari-freedom (Conservatives solve problems. Libertarians ignore problems. Liberals create problems.)
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To: ari-freedom

An airborne laser weapon, now that’s change we can believe in.


8 posted on 12/05/2008 12:07:40 AM PST by gandalftb (An appeaser feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last......)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I think their point was that several megawatts of energy was being delivered at that speed.

No mirroring could protect the target as they would not know the precise direction to create a deflection and no mirror would be aerodynamic. Anything airborne would be defenseless.

9 posted on 12/05/2008 12:12:48 AM PST by gandalftb (An appeaser feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last......)
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To: Eyes Unclouded
It will be easier to sleep then but don’t forget even the best gates don’t protect from the enemies within.

Don't worry. Fearless Leader will cancel the program before it does any harm to our Asian Marxist comrades or those peace loving jihadi's.

10 posted on 12/05/2008 12:16:18 AM PST by Sparticus (Libs, they're so open minded that their brains leaked out.)
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To: gandalftb
Ground-based versions of laser weapons could neutralize advanced air forces. When these become cheap and plentiful, they could shift the balance of power away from today's major powers.
11 posted on 12/05/2008 12:25:10 AM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: gandalftb

So when are they going to test one mounted on a frikkin shark?

12 posted on 12/05/2008 12:28:51 AM PST by uglybiker (1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d 2 g3t l41d)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
True, but ground based lasers will likely be only defensive, line of sight limited.

Airborne, that is where we'll dominate, offensive or defensive weapon platforms, aircraft, satellites, whatever. Delivering this kind of power by laser will be technology that others couldn't afford to duplicate, much less airborne.

13 posted on 12/05/2008 12:55:50 AM PST by gandalftb (An appeaser feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last......)
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To: gandalftb

Obama will kill this program. It is provocative and destabilizing.

Better, yet, he will give the technology to the Chicoms because the world should not have only one superpower.

I wish I was joking. Billy Bob did it first.


14 posted on 12/05/2008 1:04:30 AM PST by BigBobber
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To: gandalftb
No mirroring could protect the target as they would not know the precise direction to create a deflection and no mirror would be aerodynamic. Anything airborne would be defenseless.

I don't believe that anyone was proposing equipping the attacking missiles with (flat) mirrors which would bounce the beam directly back to the airplane from which the laser was shot.

I think that, instead, the proposal was simply to coat the outside of the missile with the same reflective substance as is used on the mirrors of the laser so that any incoming beam would be bounced away and thus rendered harmless.

A flat mirror would, of course, be aerodynamically problematic, but simply "dipping" the outside of the missile in silvery stuff would reduce its absorption of light and thus would reduce its vulnerability to laser beams.

You're welcome.

Regards,

15 posted on 12/05/2008 1:12:58 AM PST by alexander_busek
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
>>670 million miles per hour? Why not just say the speed of light?

Because Brits always like to sensationalize everything. Its in their genes for some reason and its wholly annoying. Do this little test - find a column written in the UK that DOESN'T use any strange metaphors, similes, or creative writing to express a common thought - it will be hard to find one.
16 posted on 12/05/2008 1:29:24 AM PST by lefty-lie-spy (Stay metal. For the Horde \m/("_")\m/)
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To: alexander_busek

As it turns out, a mirrored surface is no protection against a high-energy laser. It has been demonstrated in lab tests that the energy transfer is enough to destroy a target.


17 posted on 12/05/2008 2:19:00 AM PST by jimtorr
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To: jimtorr
[...] a mirrored surface is no protection against a high-energy laser [...]

It was not my intent to make any "blanket statements." Notice that I said merely that a mirrored surface would reduce the missile's vulnerability - perhaps even enough to allow it to survive, e.g., a "near miss."

It has been demonstrated in lab tests that the energy transfer is enough to destroy a target.

As long as those lab tests included such real-world factors as the atmosphere's intrinsic opacity, possible interposing clouds, the gradual widening of the collimated beam, etc., I will accept that.

Regards,

18 posted on 12/05/2008 2:31:44 AM PST by alexander_busek
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To: buckrodgers

Ping


19 posted on 12/05/2008 3:15:54 AM PST by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: gandalftb

“Hmmm, useful range of 180 miles (300km).”

Yes, and that’s against targets in the atmosphere. There should also be a significant anti-satellite capability with the 747 at altitude. Not much atmosphere above 60,000 or so feet.

They should work on a modified 747 that’d cruise at more like 80,000 feet.

“Gonna come a day, enemy offensive missiles will be useless.”

Perhaps. Lasers tend to overheat, and of course could be swamped by too many targets. No denying that battlefield lasers will be a game changer though.


20 posted on 12/05/2008 3:44:36 AM PST by PreciousLiberty
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To: BigBobber

“...he will give the technology to the Chicoms because the world should not have only one superpower.”

Precisely the first thought in my head reflecting on the “Socialist” Government just elected.


21 posted on 12/05/2008 3:59:56 AM PST by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, Call 'em what you will, they ALL have Fairies livin' in their Trees.)
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To: gandalftb

Can they be tested on Somali pirate skiffs?


22 posted on 12/05/2008 4:42:54 AM PST by brushcop (We remember SSG Harrison Brown, PVT Andrew Simmons B CO 2/69 3ID KIA Iraq OIF IV)
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To: brushcop

In my mind’s eye, I picture an Iranian president at an open air lecture (in a stadium) and disappearing in a puff of smoke.

An alternate target worth considering.


23 posted on 12/05/2008 5:11:33 AM PST by biggerten (Love you, Mom.)
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To: gandalftb
This is all irrelevant. Within two years this program will be scrapped and the 747 will be sitting in the boneyard in AZ.
24 posted on 12/05/2008 5:17:10 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (Nemo me impune lacessit.)
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To: PreciousLiberty
747 wing design fades long before that altitude.
25 posted on 12/05/2008 5:19:14 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (Nemo me impune lacessit.)
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To: gandalftb
The first airborne test:

and the result


26 posted on 12/05/2008 5:36:20 AM PST by JRios1968 (Sarah Palin is what Willis was talkin' about!)
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To: alexander_busek

You should probably also factor in any contamination of the mirrored surface such as dust, dirt, oils and anything else that could absorb the energy.


27 posted on 12/05/2008 5:42:36 AM PST by AFreeBird
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To: brushcop
This particular type of laser is quickly attenuated by the atmosphere. i.e. Most of the energy would be absorbed by the atmosphere before it reached the ground / water.

That's why it would do little good as a cruise missile shooter.

28 posted on 12/05/2008 5:43:38 AM PST by Freeport (The proper application of high explosives will remove all obstacles.)
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To: gandalftb

The laser requires 4 tons of chemicals per shot fired.
until they replace it with a solid state laser, it will be not be all that useful.


29 posted on 12/05/2008 5:46:36 AM PST by NavyBandit
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To: jimtorr
As it turns out, a mirrored surface is no protection against a high-energy laser. It has been demonstrated in lab tests that the energy transfer is enough to destroy a target.

What about chaff?

30 posted on 12/05/2008 5:59:41 AM PST by Theophilus (Abortion: #1 National Security Issue, #1 Economic Issue, #1 Moral Issue)
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To: gandalftb

Don’t worry, 0bama will defund it because it will be “weaponization of space”.


31 posted on 12/05/2008 6:04:14 AM PST by MrB (The 0bamanation: Marxism, Infanticide, Appeasement, Depression, Thuggery, and Censorship)
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To: gandalftb

Gee. Where are all of the knuckleheads who say that this is a waste of money because all we need for anything is a .50 cal?


32 posted on 12/05/2008 6:06:55 AM PST by PurpleMan
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To: gandalftb

33 posted on 12/05/2008 6:14:16 AM PST by GalaxieFiveHundred
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To: alexander_busek
Notice that I said merely that a mirrored surface would reduce the missile's vulnerability - perhaps even enough to allow it to survive, e.g., a "near miss."

What happens is that no reflective is perfectly reflective. Absorption of even a small amount of the laser's energy damages its reflectivity, which causes it to absorb more energy, etc.

34 posted on 12/05/2008 6:14:19 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (Question O-thority)
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To: PreciousLiberty

A combined AWACS/laser platform would be interesting. It could detect targets and terminate them at the same time, and be out of range of conventional air-to-air missiles while doing so.


35 posted on 12/05/2008 6:16:10 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (Question O-thority)
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To: alexander_busek

I suppose you could “spin” the missile as well as reflective coating the skin, so that no single targeted spot gets overheated. I really don’t know the physics of these particular lasers well enough to know if that would work.


36 posted on 12/05/2008 6:17:23 AM PST by Tallguy ("The sh- t's chess, it ain't checkers!" -- Alonzo (Denzel Washington) in "Training Day")
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To: Tallguy

You’d still have to dissipate more energy than the laser was applying in order to keep the whole missile from eventually overheating and destructing. It’s all a matter of (Energy in the Laser Minus Energy Dissipated).


37 posted on 12/05/2008 6:19:13 AM PST by MrB (The 0bamanation: Marxism, Infanticide, Appeasement, Depression, Thuggery, and Censorship)
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To: NavyBandit
The laser requires 4 tons of chemicals per shot fired.

Maybe that's why they put it on a 747. It has the cargo capacity to carry several shots worth of chemicals.

38 posted on 12/05/2008 6:28:31 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (Question O-thority)
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To: MrB

Yeah. Like I said, I don’t really understand the underlying physics enough.

I wouldn’t think that the Pentagon would have invested money into this project for this long & with this level of testing without the technology being able to delete affordable countermeasures. But then I often don’t understand the underlying logic of government research programs, either. ;)


39 posted on 12/05/2008 6:30:28 AM PST by Tallguy ("The sh- t's chess, it ain't checkers!" -- Alonzo (Denzel Washington) in "Training Day")
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To: mad_as_he$$

“747 wing design fades long before that altitude.”

I guess you missed the word “modified” in my post. ;-)


40 posted on 12/05/2008 6:38:44 AM PST by PreciousLiberty
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To: Tallguy

“I suppose you could “spin” the missile as well as reflective coating the skin, so that no single targeted spot gets overheated. I really don’t know the physics of these particular lasers well enough to know if that would work.”

The pitch has been that under the G forces of boost phase, it doesn’t take much weakening for the structure to fail. Reflective and spinning missiles might well make a difference.

It occurs to me though, that targeting the missile’s nozzles might be highly productive. They are already hot, which increases their absorption and makes them easier to destroy. There are typically other delicate structures in the neighborhood of the nozzles as well.

The article isn’t quite right on one point BTW, the laser runs for (IIRC) about 40 seconds per “shot”. It can engage multiple 3-5 second targets during that period. The system will be able to shoot several times per mission.


41 posted on 12/05/2008 6:48:33 AM PST by PreciousLiberty
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To: PapaBear3625

The military already has a “death ray.” It turns out that the sensor systems for the F-35 (and F-22, I think) are potent enough to fry missile electronics and they are quietly experimenting with them used in that mode...
So what do you bet they can do “Wonderful Things” with an AWACS?


42 posted on 12/05/2008 6:52:40 AM PST by Little Ray (Do we have a Plan B?)
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To: PreciousLiberty
That would be a very expensive and probably not very effective modification - wing design is one of the most critical thing on any aircraft. Better to put the unit on the next generation spy plane. Provided they can shrink it and then it would also be stealth.
43 posted on 12/05/2008 6:55:48 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (Nemo me impune lacessit.)
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To: Little Ray

There was a space game back in the late 80’s called “Elite”.
One of the accessories that you could get for your ship was an ECM for missiles. Basically an energy blast that fried the missile. Took a lot of energy. The info in your post shows that such a thing is indeed possible.


44 posted on 12/05/2008 6:58:35 AM PST by MrB (The 0bamanation: Marxism, Infanticide, Appeasement, Depression, Thuggery, and Censorship)
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To: gandalftb

Hmmm.
*Looks at watch*
Still waiting for lightsabres....


45 posted on 12/05/2008 7:02:07 AM PST by RandallFlagg (Satisfaction was my sin)
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To: mad_as_he$$

It would be a design modification and not very difficult. The 747 isn’t a fused wing/body design, and there’s nothing particularly bad about the body for high-altitude flight.

It just needs more wing area, like a U-2. Modern composites would probably mean no extra weight either.


46 posted on 12/05/2008 7:03:18 AM PST by PreciousLiberty
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To: PreciousLiberty

I have been told by Boeing engineers that the wing form used on their commercial aircraft is optimized for Flight levels between 30,000 ad 40,000 feet. That it will not fly over 60,000. To redesign and qualify an new wing system - which BTW would require a whole new control system of rudder etc - would be a waste. There are already large aircraft flying at much higher altitudes that have qualified wings etc.


47 posted on 12/05/2008 7:08:13 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (Nemo me impune lacessit.)
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To: JRios1968
Ahh! You beat me to it! I LOVE that movie...

"It's an honor to meet you, sir. Telcom... isn't that the satellite that's raining debris all over Europe?"

"Why is that toy on your head?"

"Because if I wear it anywhere else, it chafes."

48 posted on 12/05/2008 7:09:02 AM PST by ponygirl
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To: MrB

I loved Elite! I also played Wing Commander Privateer, and that was pretty good.

I wish there was something like it on the market today, maybe a little more advanced to take advantage today’s processors.


49 posted on 12/05/2008 7:16:23 AM PST by Little Ray (Do we have a Plan B?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

LOL, I actually did the math to check.


50 posted on 12/05/2008 7:19:37 AM PST by Bat_Chemist (Pray for the president. No matter who it is.)
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