Can I nominate this as the headline/tagline of the year?
Plans by the US military-industrial complex to mount a laser cannon on an enormous lorry are moving forward. The enormous lorry in question has now been received by the firm providing the laser cannon, famed arms'n'aerospace globocorp Boeing. Boeing says it received a mighty Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) …
Given that the most successful things often start from scraping together things on a shoestring budget (AMRAAM, anyone?) they could've increased their chances of success tenfold by acquiring a surplus SCUD truck, dump the SCUD, and run with what's left. Much like many a burning oil well got blown out by a couple of reversed jet engines on top of a tank chassis. Of course they can't do that, because as noted that would actually increase their chances of delivering anything functional, nevermind for a reasonable price.
Mortars and RPGs seem to be popular choices for insurgents everywhere. Certainly everywhere this *might* be deployed.
If you *really* want this to be useful it's got to be ready to re-fire in less than that time. the optical pointing system performance will have to be quite sporty as well.
I reckon a well drilled team could fire 1 round every 3 secs, but that's just a guess.
Now how many teams could an insurgant force bring to bear at any one time?
Outside of civilian areas? I have two words for you: "counterbattery artillery". Any targetting system that can track and disable a ballistic projectile like a mortar or conventional artillery round can tell you where said round came from. Its then only a short leap to liquidating the enemy artillery with your own. At which point it becomes "how many trained and equipped soldiers are you willing to sacrifice to win this attack?"... such people are a little harder to come by than suicide bombers. Not much good if the attackers are firing from inside towns or whatever, but...
In civilian areas, the attacks tend to be small scale, hit-and-run types. It isn't trivial to raise a significantly sized and armed force for a strong, co-ordinated strike in an occupied town without someone noticing. This is why it hasn't been done, yet. And even then, you'll want to be very careful about what you do next, when your position is known by someone who could field a bunch of little aerial attack helicopter robots in short order.
If battlefield laser weapons become the norm, won't munitions manufacturers simply make their products with a mirror finish? I know that some people seem to think the laser will simply burn through the mirror finish, but if this is so then why have anti-missile systems been proposed that use spaceborne mirrors to reflect ground-based lasers onto their targets?
Maybe I'm out of the loop, but there aren't any serious anti-missile systems in the works, last I recall, that involve sending a beam up into space and reflecting it back down. That would be needlessly complicated, and is generally a horrible idea. Perhaps you are misremembering the SBL program, whose aim was to put powerful gas-dynamic deuterium fluoride lasers in orbit. (Those only have to go through the atmosphere *once*.)
The mirrors, by the way, that find use in the manipulation of weapon-class infrared lasers are not the kind you can just buy at the hardware store, unless your hardware store has mirrors that cost upwards of a hundred thousand dollars and are actively cooled. Even if you had the money, it's not reasonable to put that kind of thing on shells or missiles.
I will not dismiss the possibility that some reflective coating could be useful for hardening a weapon against laser weaponry, but the aim could not reasonably be to make it invulnerable--noting first the cost of mirrors that are actually good at dealing with beams like that, and second the problems inherent to using sensitive optics on a thing that is handled as ordnance--but rather to make the beam that destroys it take a second or two longer to do the job and/or require more power to do so. That could buy a lot of time, which could be significant if there were a whole barrage of these things in flight. Of course, you must also consider how much cost this adds to the ordnance, provided that the coating is good enough that it still works correctly after having been shot out of a gun. (Who's going to pay for that? Hamas?)
Oh, and either the coating can't ablate (as this would screw up the trajectory) or the weapon would have to steer to correct for this, which would (like fancy reflective coatings) make the ordnance a lot more expensive.
It's probably better just to buy more of the normal kind.
"Right boys, switch on the laser... just wave it about a bit in front of the missiles - we're sure to hit one. Think of it like a big lightsaber... Crikey - what was that flash?"
"Err, sir I think it might have been the International Space Station..."
"...and there goes another one..."
"Can anyone get Sky One?"
"%$£!" - switch it OFF, switch it OFF!!"
Does this laser focus specifically at the target's range? I'm just wondering what happens if a civilian vehicle happened to be flying a few thousand feet above any rogue missile, directly in the laser path. PEWPEWPEW baked Boeing 747 passenger for breakfast?
I know, it's a million-to-one chance, but any Discworld reader knows what that means...
Might I suggest a quick viewing this weekend of the fantastic cinematic offering "Megashark vs Giant Octopus"? Drag yon eyes from young(ish) Deborah Gibson (Deborah is her grown up name for serious acting... Debbie was just a good time girl apparently) and feast them 'pon Megashark. Not only can he handle a lorry strapped to his head, but if memory serves me right, at one point he swims at 500 knots, which is a significant percentage of the speed of sound at sea level.
Now, if only we can be sure the darn t'errists haven't got themselves a Giant Octopus...
Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else think that if you're developing a mobile laser, it'd be a good idea to actually *have* a working laser first, before you acquire the "mobile" bit? Not least bcos until it's built, you might not know how big the "mobile" bit needs to be. The lead time on a truck isn't going to be that great compared to development of an entire laser and its guidance system.
i remember reading somewhere that the company Oshkosh was developing a truck to replace hummers in terrain like afghanastan, it was to be signifigantly more durrable and built from the ground up to defend against insurgent tactics (IEDs and RPGs and such.)
my guess is that this is the same truck modified to carry a raygun.
"So, how is the raygun coming along?"
"Weeellllll..... we're in a bit of a lull with that. We haven't actually got a RAY gun yet. More of a directional tanning device."
"But you're getting there with the ray bit though?"
"Not exactly... we were'nt making muich progress with it so we've put it on the back-burner for a bit - y'know we'll mull it over for a while. In the meantime we decided to tackle something a bit easier."
"What do you mean?"
"The whole laser ray thingy was giving us a headache, so we decided to go look at trucks instead... we did think about a monster truck at one point... I had a go in one... boy was that cool or what..."
"But what about the laser!?"
"You've got to appreciate that it's our annual performance review coming up too... wouldn't do to come up and say we've got diddly-squat - might mean the end of the project. So now we can confidently say we're right on track, with 50% of the project completed, and all that research money can carry on rolling in... don't worry, we'll definitely get back to the ray gun bit - right after we've done the other vital research on just the right in-cabin air freshener."
"Outside of civilian areas? I have two words for you: "counterbattery artillery".
Excellent point. However I *think* the aim here is to destroy any rounds that have been launched already. Hence my point about how many that might realistically be.
My guess would be that an insurgent group would fire a certain number of rounds, break camp and run. My question was directed toward *what* that number might be.
A backu pquestion might be how many rounds would normally be fired before such a team was on target. If it takes a mortar team 5 rounds to get the rangeand CB fire is likely to start after less then it's likely they will all miss anyway.
Given the rather slow progress towards lasers that can be mounted on sharks I decided to look into a sea dweller that is more capable of carrying todays tech.
Unfortunately the quote for a new blue whale pool was hideously expensive and even my volcano lair would struggle to fit it in so plans are on hold for the moment.
Anyone want to buy two blue whales, sold as seen?
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