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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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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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To: mad_as_he$$

“There are already large aircraft flying at much higher altitudes that have qualified wings etc.”

Really? Which ones?

Then there’s the question of whether it’d be cheaper to redesign the entire laser system for a new, smaller aircraft, or just design a new wing. Requalification either way.

Larger tail surfaces are far more trivial than the wing. With CAD and simulation it can all be tested before being built.


51 posted on 12/05/2008 7:24:06 AM PST by PreciousLiberty
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To: gandalftb
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.

Wow, that's really haulin' **s!

They wouldn't even have time to say "here it comes"... "there it is"... "there it goes"... /g

52 posted on 12/05/2008 7:42:40 AM PST by tarheelswamprat
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
>>>Why not just say the speed of light?<<<

a] not dramatic enough for car chase fans

b] speed of light is irrevelant and unknown to average GED educated American

c] "warp speed" was vetoed by the editorial staff

d] they wanted to see if I had a calculator....

...SOL is actually 669.6 MM MPH.

53 posted on 12/05/2008 3:01:47 PM PST by HardStarboard ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule - Mencken knew Obama)
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To: Theophilus

Yes, chaff has been used in lots of science fiction stories as a defense against lasers. It would probably be effective as long as the asset being protected isn’t moving too fast.


54 posted on 12/05/2008 3:03:24 PM PST by jimtorr
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