Skip to comments.Laser Horizons
Posted on 04/01/2012 8:34:03 PM PDT by U-238
Functional laser weapons are just five years away. Advocates hope that wont always be the case. The Air Force has been working on airborne laser weapons for more than 40 years, but a fielded system remains elusive. Experts also warn that the US does not enjoy a commanding lead in laser research. And the Air Forces flagship laser weapon program, the Airborne Laser (later called the Airborne Laser Testbed) was terminated late last year and is now being dismantled.
Still, service and industry experts predict there is plenty of reason for realistic optimism. Operational laser systems that can perform a variety of destructive missions are not too far off, these experts insist, but they will likely be complementary to USAFs kinetic weapon inventory, not a substitute for it.
The Airborne Laser was to be the prototype for a small fleet of aircraft that would fly outside enemy borders, ready to shoot down any boosting ballistic missiles.
The ABL project lasted 16 years and cost more than $5 billion. In the end, a series of tests proved the 747-based system could, in fact, spot, track, lase, and destroy a ballistic missile target at beyond visual range, but it was deemed by Pentagon leaders too expensive and impractical to progress to an operational system.
Another program, the Advanced Tactical Laser, mounted on a C-130 transport, proved a laser system could be effective against certain ground targets, such as antennae and light vehicles. It too has been shelved.
Both the ABL and ATL used chemical lasers, which, though able to produce high power in the megawatt class, proved cumbersome to operate because of the large quantities of chemicals consumed and the extensive and heavy plumbing they required.
(Excerpt) Read more at airforce-magazine.com ...
Just don’t shoot your lasgun at a shield.
Would love to know where the Sov/Russians are with this today, or if they abandoned it as well. There was a time when it was thought they were way ahead in laser technology.
In an earlier life (mid-80s), I read a summary that thought they would have MW class lasers on ships within a few years. Ships are such a good candidate, as power to run them is not an issue. Poor bastards hardly even have a navy now.
Well, their hopes are come true. It won't "always be the case" they can only be "5 years away" one time.
I think that its in service not 5 years away.