The New Weapons Grade Laser

| 19 Mar 2009 20:25

Northrop Grumman weapon has finally managed to make a weapons-grade electrical laser, but it's a bit of a beast.

The new laser relies purely on electrically-powered equipment rather than the COIL (chemical oxygen iodine laser) cannon fitted on the nuke-blasting jumbo jet.

The main advantage of this is that while the COIL requires a huge expenditure of toxic fuel and produces equal amounts of toxic waste, the electrical laser is "clean." The problem was that electric lasers haven't been able to reach the rather arbitrary 100kW limit that defines a weapons grade laser. Until now.

In the recent test, the laser was able to output 105kW of power for 5 minutes, with less than a second's power up. This makes it capable of incinerating almost any missiles that come into its path.

Now the bad news: These lasers are extortionately expensive, very bulky (1.5 tonnes), and really hard to keep cool. There's also the problem of how much energy they use up - with only 20% energy conversion, they require half a megawatt of power. Combine the weight of the laser, charging system and beam focuser, and you're going to need one strong cat to lug it around.

Source: The Register

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