back to article Russia's Cold War raygun air fleet back in operation - reports

Reports suggest that Russia has re-started work on a Cold War project intended to produce a laser cannon mounted on an enormous military transport aircraft in the style of the USA's Airborne Laser Testbed 747. The Beriev A-60 laser aircraft in flight Ha ha, imperialists - it is not only you who can build expensive crazy …


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  1. JaitcH
    Thumb Down

    "Clearly, all our aircrafts will be shot down.”

    that is of these old Ilyushin can actually fly that far without crashing ... there have been a few mysterious accidents.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      I thought that was the airline staff selling off the fuel.

  2. John 62

    USAF not deploying Lasguns, but still _developing_ them

    I would think that for any weapons system, even if it wasn't going to be deployed, it would be a good idea to prepare countermeasures

  3. Domus

    That's all well and good...

    ... but when will we get sharks with frickin lasers?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahhh... good old arms races

    Looks like it's all back on after a brief hiatus, and this time Russia has capitalism to help fund it all and China is coming to the party as well.

  5. Chris Miller

    В Правде нет известий, в Известиях нет правды

    Old Russian proverb.

    1. Jess

      I thought that was..

      ..a comment on their newspapers.

    2. kwikbreaks

      В Правде нет известий, в Известиях нет правды

      Я впечатлен тем, что Google Translator обрабатываются, что 1

  6. DavCrav

    Clearly, all our aircrafts will be shot down.

    All your base are belong to us?

  7. Steve 13

    blind satellites

    Whilst it's undoubtedly true that flying your laser above most of the atmosphere will reduce the power requirements involved in hitting a satellite. The act of powering it from within a plane and the necessary tracking apparatus surely means that it would be more effective to construct a more powerful laser on the ground.

    As a bit of analysis, satellite blinding doesn't strike me as a highly likely use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Blind satellites

      Indeed, it's much easier to do this from the ground. For starters the cost of keeping the laser on the ground is much less than the cost of keeping it in the air :) Of course if you are interested in selling them to other nations, the fact that it doesn't live at a fixed address makes it much harder for uncle sam to blow it up, and is a good selling point.

      Since the US complain that the weedy lasers that astronomers use to create "artificial stars" for adaptive optics can damage their sats, it seems that you don't have to fly your laser to blind them.

      At least one nation has boasted in the past that it temporarily blinded an overflying sat operated by a different (unfriendly) nation, although how they know that they temporarily blinded it is a good question!

    2. Ru
      Black Helicopters

      Target visibility

      "it would be more effective to construct a more powerful laser on the ground."

      Oh, absolutely: but bear in mind that you might want to zap sattelites that don't fly over your particular motherland, and so having ground-based laser facilities would be useless. Having the facility to deploy a sat-blinder anywhere in the world could, eg, ensure that no-one else has orbital surveillance capabilities in a foreign combat theatre.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Peace vs War, or maybe just the WoGT?

        I can also see the Ruskies being interested in blinding sats rather than blowing them up as simply dazzling them cannot be construed as an act of war, whereas blasting them out of the sky most definately could be.

        On the other hand, no-one has mentioned that the US ABL program has also been tested against ground targets. Just think how useful it would be in the Afghan if you could fly your laser Jumbo at 30,000ft, just waiting for a satellite or drone to send you the co-ords for a Taleban bomb team or gunpit, and you fry them almost instantly without having to call in an airstrike and risk collateral damage. I'm sure the Ruskies would also like the idea of an "invisible deathray" to fry their enemies with in a deniable manner, maybe in places like Chechnya.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    sometimes don't need a gigawatt laser

    some studies on Laser Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) technology show that with practise, you can ionise a conducting path thru the atmosphere for several klicks, then dump lots of EMF/RF through the duct for much lower than free space path loss (inverse square). The wackypedia article on LIPC claims you can trigger a remote lightning discharge - onto a desired object - by the appropriate painting with lasers!

    the 'only defences' are magnetic... shields... Mr Sulu?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "ome studies on Laser Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) technology show that with practise, you can ionise a conducting path thru the atmosphere for several klicks, then dump lots of EMF/RF through the duct for much lower than free space path loss (inverse square)"

      The first part sounds like some NASA attempts in the early 80's for a laser lightning rod to discharge clouds over launch sites (The Shuttle stack was notoriously sensitive. Possible something to do with wiring 300 pyrotechnics all over the vehicle linked to the 5 processors in the nose via 23 interface boxes through *lots* of electric cable)

      The latter might be useful if you wanted to increase the range of a given microwave system without a large aerial (although for high value functions phased array systems might be as good).

      Might be useful as the basis for a sort of laser taser, without wires to transmit the charge.

      Weather it would be portable is another matter.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      When I read an article, in Scientific American [early '80's as I recall], on the optical transistor, I thought of this application back then. Use a laser (probably a diode laser) which ionizes the nitrogen that makes up the overwhelming majority of our atmosphere and then dump a heck of a lot of joules at high voltage down the ionized pathway. There are a hell of a lot of applications, military and non-military, when you can create a directed lightning bolt to order. Actually, using material and fabrication techniques developed by a certain company [who shall remain nameless] would give you a heck of a laser. I have a feeling when they actually get all the pieces that I've envisioned together it will radically change the battlefield.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        As it happens you *can* make a Nitrogen laser.

        It has *very* high gain but only operates in a pulse mode (*very* short pulses). Nitrogen atoms with an electron in the excited stae are very unstable (upper stae lifetime is c5ns). they have been used to pump various organic dyes for use in the visible spectrum.

        Emission is at 337.1nm. That's in the UV.

        Making a solid state UV laser is (AFAIK) still in the research stage.

        Mine has a copy of "In introduction to lasers and their applications (O'Shea, Callen and Rhodes ) in the pocket.

  9. Danny 14


    I thought the US had shelved the chemical ABL but not necessarily the principle? I.e. get a proper electric MW laser and its back on course.

  10. Ted Treen
    Thumb Down

    "Started work on a project..." not quite the same as "Monster laser-planes ready to blind US satellites".

    Looking for a job writting headlines for that nice Mr Murdoch?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Ernesto

    Powerful laser

    Question from physics exam in Russia: Powerful laser intercepts an enemy plane. Calculate the initial speed of the laser

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Speed of light

  13. Bilby

    В Правде нет известий, в Известиях нет правды

    => There is no information in Pravda, and no truth in Izvestia.

    (Pravda and Izvestia are well known Russian newspapers; Pravda means 'Truth' and Izvestia means 'Information').

    For those who don't read Russian.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    But wait!

    aren't those goddam Ruskies supposed to be our friends now. Maybe Reagan was right.

    1. John Sturdy

      In which case...

      Could they please revive the Caspian Sea Monster? (Ekranoplan.) Now that looks like an interesting craft.

  15. Tim #3


    The yanks can't get theirs working...

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The Caspian Sea Monster

    Didn't he win "Best Newcomer" in last years Erotic Oscars?*

    *I've been dying to do that one for years. I shall now make a dignified exit.

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