Ship-Mounted Laser Weapon Torches Enemies a Mile Away

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Ship-Mounted Laser Weapon Torches Enemies a Mile Away

U.S. Navy research has paid off with a shipboard solid-state laser powerful and accurate enough to set fire to a boat over a mile away in choppy waters.

How do you improve a massive steel titan that prowls the seas teeming with immense, powerful, and accurate cannon weaponry? Well, the Navy thought long and hard, and determined that you improve them the same way you improve anything else: just add lasers.

In a demonstration of a powerful ship-mounted solid-state laser, crews managed to deal "catastrophic damage" to a target vessel bobbing over a mile away. While plenty of tests have taken place on still, steady land, this is the first test that proves the laser can work in less then ideal conditions, as would most often be the case.

Due to energy and coolant restraints on current ships, the current generation of naval vessels will have to make due with 15 kilowatt lasers, like the one that was just successfully demonstrated, but future ships could have directed energy weapons up in the 100 kilowatt range, enough to burn missiles out of the sky.

The next steps will be to "develop the tactics, the techniques, the procedures, and the safety procedures that sailors are going need to develop" when using laser weapons, said Rear Admiral Nevin Carr.

But the Navy's not done with its laser research; far from it. Work is being done on weaponizing free electron lasers (different from solid-state ones), which can blast through 2000 feet of steel per second with about a megawatt of power. You heard me right. 2000 feet. Of steel. Per second.

It was then that Admiral Carr said perhaps the greatest thing ever said by a living Admiral: "This is an important data point, but I still want the Megawatt death ray."

So say we all, Admiral.

Source: Wired

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Now all they have to do is train some sharks and then fit them with lasers...

Also working on a laser than can get through 2000 feet of steel per second? Isn't that a bit excessive? and dangerous? (Due to light traveling quite long distances)

A mile isn't that far away for normal ship to ship combat, besides lasers won't do that much damage to a several thousand ton ship of the line.

Every day, bit by bit, I'm feeling more and more like I'm living in the future. Lasers mounted on ships? hoooly shit.
Even though this isn't very strong, it's still really awesome. It set the engine on fire from a mile away. A mile. That's quite a long way. Sure, most of the torpedoes or cannons or whatnot could most likely do the job better, but I'm pretty sure this isn't meant to be killing off enemies. Yet.

Still, the whole premise of it reeks of awesomeness.

You heard me right. 2000 feet. Of steel. Per second.

I....

I want one of those. I want to FIRE one of those. I don't care what I'm firing at. Put me on a boat and give me the trigger.

So, about them spaceships...

ryai458:
A mile isn't that far away for normal ship to ship combat, besides lasers won't do that much damage to a several thousand ton ship of the line.

Probably not. But one that can burn through 2000 feet of steel a second on the other hand...

This is still just early proof of concept kind of stuff really.

It has neither the range, nor firepower to replace existing naval weapons just yet.

ryai458:
A mile isn't that far away for normal ship to ship combat, besides lasers won't do that much damage to a several thousand ton ship of the line.

It very much depends on the type of ship. If they are mounting this on a little PT boat, and using it to torch small pirate skiffs, it'll probably work fine, since few ships that small have guns with much better effective ranges (or at least, from what I've heard).

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the laser can be used a lot more accurately than a conventional weapon. It doesn't have the same kind of blast radius, and is easier for a computer to target.

I admit a lot of this is my own projections from what little I know, but I think it is sound.

Is it called the Alan Parsons Project btw?

Anyhow, what I really want to know is if the megawatt version can be that strong at 1000 times the distance. Could I throw a Megawatt laser in low earth orbit, and have it strategically take out my foes?

Wouldn't it be much easier/cheaper to just shoot projectiles at that short of a distance? It's nice as a proof of concept but totally inadequate as a combat weapon. The other mega death ray mentioned however, scares the crap out of me. It's only downside would be the line of sight requirement, and even then they will probably be able to bounce it off satellites to hit targets over the horizon.
Oh and the massive power consumption...but you can always just add another reactor. I wonder what weapon system would weigh less...A 10 inch gun, its ammo, and systems...or that laser and its extra reactor.

We don't need no water let that motherf****r burn!

I guess I'd better go sacrifice a mobius shape to the Lord of Physics in thanks for this invention actually working.

Do people just look at Sci-Fi and say to themselves "You know what? F*** it, that looks like it might work and I've got nothing better to do, let's go round up the tech boys and have at it".

Science fiction becoming science reality before our eyes. I love it.

The laser's tracking capability is impressive. I'm thinking projectiles are still the answer right now though.... atleast for a while.

"Were it me, I'd deck out my troops in armor crafted from lightweight porous refractory ceramic and fiberglass, or other high-R flexible insulation material, with a coating of paint with high reflectivity in the laser energy ranges and high emissivity at longer wavelengths, to reject most of the laser's beam and emit a large fraction of the energy as blackbody radiation."

Quote from: Finite Fourier Alchemy of http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=39;t=000947;p=0

Would that work on the ships laser?

I wouldn't want to be a Polynesian pirate right now.

Welp, we got our laser weapons. You know what's gotta come next...

I'll go practice my evil laughter.

s0m3th1ng:
Wouldn't it be much easier/cheaper to just shoot projectiles at that short of a distance? It's nice as a proof of concept but totally inadequate as a combat weapon. The other mega death ray mentioned however, scares the crap out of me. It's only downside would be the line of sight requirement, and even then they will probably be able to bounce it off satellites to hit targets over the horizon.
Oh and the massive power consumption...but you can always just add another reactor. I wonder what weapon system would weigh less...A 10 inch gun, its ammo, and systems...or that laser and its extra reactor.

One very important difference, that 10 inch gun has limited ammo, a laser with a nuclear reactor powering it is virtually limitless shots.

RicoADF:

s0m3th1ng:
Wouldn't it be much easier/cheaper to just shoot projectiles at that short of a distance? It's nice as a proof of concept but totally inadequate as a combat weapon. The other mega death ray mentioned however, scares the crap out of me. It's only downside would be the line of sight requirement, and even then they will probably be able to bounce it off satellites to hit targets over the horizon.
Oh and the massive power consumption...but you can always just add another reactor. I wonder what weapon system would weigh less...A 10 inch gun, its ammo, and systems...or that laser and its extra reactor.

One very important difference, that 10 inch gun has limited ammo, a laser with a nuclear reactor powering it is virtually limitless shots.

Running out of ammo is unheard of in the Navy.

Did anyone else read that as "Marmite Laser Demonstration"?

I'm not sure how this is more useful than traditional artillery but The Navy is always good for the insane research project -- see also: Battleship Mounted Rail-guns

Zechnophobe:
Anyhow, what I really want to know is if the megawatt version can be that strong at 1000 times the distance. Could I throw a Megawatt laser in low earth orbit, and have it strategically take out my foes?

Now we're talking!

Oh, and 2000 feet per second! Thats got to be some sort of typo, or else the thing requires a personal nuclear reactor to power it and is the size of a mountain.

2000 Feet! how is that even possible?

Combination missile defense and offensive weapon?! Sounds good to me!

...I'll just let the yanks perfect it before I agree that Canada should get some too.

YouEatLard:
The laser's tracking capability is impressive. I'm thinking projectiles are still the answer right now though.... atleast for a while.

I think projectiles will still be the solution for a long time, even after the laser is fully effective as a weapon. It would have a hard time competing with a fully functional railgun for sheer destructive capability, and range.

When will the battle station be fully operational?

Best defence against this is a ship made out of mirrors.

s0m3th1ng:
Running out of ammo is unheard of in the Navy.

Ammo is heavy and expensive, as well as being wasteful, since the materials used to create it end up wherever they land. A projectile also travels a lot slower than a laser does, which makes a significant difference against fast-moving targets, like missiles and jets. The weaponized laser project is primarily intended as a missile defense system and anti-aircraft weapon.

Of course, once it can take out a jet there's no reason why it can't target other ships as well, if necessary.

HappyPillz:

YouEatLard:
The laser's tracking capability is impressive. I'm thinking projectiles are still the answer right now though.... atleast for a while.

I think projectiles will still be the solution for a long time, even after the laser is fully effective as a weapon. It would have a hard time competing with a fully functional railgun for sheer destructive capability, and range.

This is a less destructive and more accurate weapon. It would be used for less lethal intents, as demonstrated in the video.

Ah just what I like to see another expensive waste of time from the US DoD. Why spend millions of dollars on weapon that is can only ever be of less use the current weapons. A laser beam can only travel in straight lines but the world is curved so for laser mounted 30m above sea level it can only hit targets 12 1/4 miles away. The current short range USN surface to air missile has range of 27+ miles. Ever wonder why the US budget deficit is so big?

The navy wants death rays? *checks watch* well what-do-ya-know its almost future.

I think it would be kinda cool to have laser weapons on ships but this demonstration doesn't make it look practical. It only started a small fire and when your on a boat surrounded by water putting out a small fire is a minor concern.

Scott Bullock:

It was then that Admiral Carr said perhaps the greatest thing ever said by a living Admiral: "This is an important data point, but I still want the Megawatt death ray."

Awesome quote right there.

Looks pretty cool, I wonder when they'll get around to making bolo.

Scott Bullock:
It was then that Admiral Carr said perhaps the greatest thing ever said by a living Admiral: "This is an important data point, but I still want the Megawatt death ray."

We don't kill people nearly efficiently and effortlessly enough, time to get moving! >:O

Laser weapons terrify me.

Think about it. Weapons have begun requiring progressively less skill to use. Going from the bow-and-arrow to the gun, instead of being something you needed a lot of skill and physical strength to accomplish, killing became pretty much just point and shoot.

Laser weapons are even easier to aim. As long as you have an accurate sight, you can just point the weapon, pull the trigger, and whatever's at the other end dies horribly. No need to account for windage or projectile trajectory. It's like an FPS weapon.

Granted, laser energy does attenuate quickly over a long range, but if a laser is powerful enough to kill within its effective range, it can still probably light things on fire or cause permanent blindness at very long range. Using adaptive optics, a laser could be accurate as far as the eye can see, and any chump can use it with a minimum of training as long as it's a clear day and he has line-of-sight.

I hate weapons. I really do. But, as they say, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, so Megawatt death ray it is. If we're going to be able to kill and maim people at the press of a button, I'm glad that ability will (ostensibly) be on my side.

As long as it's made by the lowest bidder, what can go wrong?

0:18, 0:43, 0:47, 1:00, 1:11, 1:43, 1:48, 2:12, 2:25, 2:33, 3:15,

albino boo:
Ah just what I like to see another expensive waste of time from the US DoD. Why spend millions of dollars on weapon that is can only ever be of less use the current weapons. A laser beam can only travel in straight lines but the world is curved so for laser mounted 30m above sea level it can only hit targets 12 1/4 miles away. The current short range USN surface to air missile has range of 27+ miles. Ever wonder why the US budget deficit is so big?

Missiles? Ah right. I'll just fire one *whoosh*.

That'll be 100 million dollars. And it got shot down half way.
Now you know why we want lasers. They fire for pennies on the megadeath!

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