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Boeing Completes Design of Shipboard Superlaser

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Soylent Brice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-19-10 01:21 PM
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Boeing Completes Design of Shipboard Superlaser
The U.S. military is bankrolling all kinds of projects to harness the power of directed energy, from laser-equipped aircraft that can shoot down ballistic missiles to smaller beam weapons mounted on Humvees that could zap mortars or artillery shells. The Navy is no exception: It wants a shipboard laser that is powerful enough to destroy anti-ship missiles.

Defense giant Boeing now says it has completed the preliminary design of one such weapon, the Free Electron Laser, or FEL. In a news release today, the company said it had presented its FEL design, which will operate by forcing a stream of high-energy electrons through a series of magnetic fields, creating a weapons-grade blast of laser light.

If it works, it would be the holy grail of military lasers. For starters, it would able to blast though the atmosphere without losing too much strength (see explanation here). And it would have an unlimited magazine: As long as the ship provided enough electrical power, it could keep on zapping.

Boeing isnt the only company working on such a project. Last year, the Office of Naval Research awarded contracts to both Raytheon and Boeing for preliminary design work on FEL. As we reported, this laser would be capable of reaching up to 100 kilowatts. In theory, it would be a potential long-range replacement for the radar-guided Phalanx gun, the Navys current system for close-in defense from cruise missiles and other threats.

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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-19-10 01:32 PM
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1. can I have one? My neighbor has been a real pain.
wow. This makes more sense. An airborne chemical laser did not, at least not with today's technology.
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Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-19-10 01:33 PM
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2. This is part of why the Navy is funding research into the Polywell fusion reactor design
A working fusion reactor would supply more than enough power for the ship and all its weapons and other systems, and the Polywell design- if it works as Dr. Bussard was certain it would- would easily fit on an aircraft carrier.

Then there's that little detail of getting us away from using petroleum products for propulsion purposes, but that's just a side-note. :silly:
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haele Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-19-10 01:36 PM
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3. Real Genius, anyone?
Edited on Fri Mar-19-10 01:36 PM by haele
It's all in theory. I 'spose if you had a nuclear-powered ship or battery, you might be able to sustain a beam long enough to "shoot" more than once at long range (20+ miles) before it runs out of energy or starts burning itself out, but if you have multiple incoming targets, err, contacts, over a sustained period of time, "theoretically", you'll run into some degradation issues.
I've worked radar and directional systems, and participated in some serious theoretical engineering discussions on how a lazar beam could be useful in combat situations, other than for blinding a pilot. I'm not saying it can't be done, it's just that there's a lot of sustainability issues involved, which is why the various iteration of Star Wars have been such a bust.

And I certainly don't think it could replace the ship's favorite li'l R2D2 gatling gun (i.e., Phalynx); not all incoming can be detected early enough that the shrapnel or a pop-up missile or even torpedo couldn't do some serious damage, (it was a Mirage surface skimmer pop-up that took out the Stark in 1987) nor might one expect just one incoming contact at a time.

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guitar man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-19-10 02:21 PM
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4. Is it the USS Sea Bass
I'd be really dissapointed if it was...all I wanted was fricken sharks with laser beams on their heads!

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