What's stopping people from simply spraying the underside of planes a nice shade of silver?
Don't know what sort of power you'd need for burning into reflective coatings but it would surely be more than this thing?
The US Navy says it has successfully test-fired a ship-mounted laser weapon, and that it plans to deploy the device to an actual maritime staging area beginning in 2014. On Monday, the Navy released video and still images showing the somewhat-unimaginatively named Laser Weapon System (LaWS) firing on an unmanned drone, causing …
These lasers operate in the infrared region where silver paint absorbs, so it's not going to make any difference how shinny the silver paint is in the visible region. A Gold coating may work better but still you would need a surface with a reflectivity of 99.99...% for no real damage to occur.
That may be the case with paint, but how about the 'cat's eyes' type of microprism reflectors found in traffic sigs and such? It should also work at varuous wavelengths, since it is based on total reflection in highly refractive materials...
"...how about the 'cat's eyes'... "?
It'd still depend on the power --- and the intensity --- of the light. It is not difficult to make a laser with an intensity that it ionises air, let alone anything more solid: I know of one chap who had strategically-placed vacuum cells scattered through what he was doing for that very reason.
Anyhow, I don't think that the cat would appreciate it very much.
It is not about the absorption or the reflection rate of the target, it is about the power out put of the solid state laser. It is about 100KW laser canons that US navy uses, it hits both the personnel or the sensitive electronics of the enemy targets and causes detrimental consequences, if not the total destruction of targets.
"It is not about the absorption or the reflection rate of the target, it is about the power out put of the solid state laser."
Even the US Navy can't overcome basic physics. It is about the power output of the laser - minus how much of the beam doesn't hit the target - and minus how much of the beam power is reflected by the target, and the effectiveness is also limited by how effective the target is at conducting / absorbing heat....
"I doubt very much that a $5 tin of silver paint would be an effective countermeasure to a $32m frickin laser."
And you'd probably doubt that the watery atmosphere of Eastern Europe would destroy the Stealth coating which cost $Bn to develop.
Except that on at least 1 occasion that is exactly what happened.
Going back to Vietnam the US Army developed the "people sniffer." This was decoyed by a large well filled latrine bucket, wasting several B52 fulls of bombs. Total system nullified by the results of a couple of bags of rice.
Silver paint might not work, but likely a £1 roll of bright aluminium foil (reflectivity 88%) and can of spray adhesive would likely do the job.
Maybe combined with a ceramic coating from the likes of Zircotec for the ultimate in protection...
A laser like this would be incredibly easy to take counter actions against.
The R&D boys might test it but its sold by salesmen to governments and not armies. Stealth bombers are invisible to modern radar but visible to world war II radar but since we dont sell old radar to our enemies they are blind - unless they're looking for reflections of radio ham transmissions.
Australia uses old fashioned, WWII type low frequencies in its over the horizon radar (because low frequencies bounce of the ionosphere, giving enormous range - provided you can unscramble the reflections). Works a treat on "stealth" aircraft, and the Chinese are doing something similar.
I have read the papers and correspondance of people who know far more about this than me...
Basically if you think sunshine reflecting off mirrors, types of power levels - reflection doesn't work with lasers.
Even a super shiny chrome plated spanner will turn seriously hot in the strong sunshine in minutes.
There is an effect that operates on the surface, that silver reflects heat / energy, outwards, but it also reflects sidewards into it's self, at the atomic level, and under really, really enormous concentrations of power / energy, highly reflective surfaces basically offer no protection against lasers.
"Basically if you think sunshine reflecting off mirrors, types of power levels - reflection doesn't work with lasers.
Even a super shiny chrome plated spanner will turn seriously hot in the strong sunshine in minutes.
There is an effect that operates on the surface, that silver reflects heat / energy, outwards, but it also reflects sidewards into it's self, at the atomic level, and under really, really enormous concentrations of power / energy, highly reflective surfaces basically offer no protection against lasers"
I guess you failed GCSE physics. Reflection certainly does work with lasers. In fact most lasers actually contain mirrors in the laser cavity!
The spanner you mention will likely heat up mostly by conduction. If suspended in the air it will certainly take a lot longer to warm up than they same spanner but painted black.
Reflective surfaces offer protection against lasers based on how reflective they are. As an example, aluminium foil would reflect ~ 88% of the energy received, and costs almost nothing, and reflectivity over 99% is relatively easy to achieve. Reflective surfaces are therefore a potentially effective countermeasure against this sort of attack.
As an Aussie and occasional backyard mechanic I can verify that a silver spanner left in the sun gets burningly hot very quickly regardless of the surface it is on. Nope, I don't think conduction through a wooden stool is doing it particularly when the stool is only getting a bit toasty to sit on but the spanner will cause an unwary mechanic to achieve orbital velocities when parking said mechanic's posterior on top.
The sort of stuff you'd make a re-entry heat shield out of would do a splendid job to defending against laser fire. Spinning a missile on its long axis would also work okay, but it does mean that you can no longer use fins to steer.
Thin coatings of highly reflective material would be useless, as they'd be rendered non-reflective in a fairly small fraction of a second. Box reflectors would not remain intact long enough to reflect a destructive amount of energy back at the emitter (though any spectators without laser filtering goggles might not fare so well... see icon).
Anything that uses thermal or laser designation guidance can be blinded trivially, as would any TV-guided devices. Possibly radar guided missiles might work, but I don't know a whole lot about the physical properties of radar transparent materials and whether they can be made usefully laser proof.
Best stuff to use against a target with a practical battlefield laser? Big old-school cannon rounds, or railguns. It'll be weird if battleships come back into fashion, but not implausible. The key word though is practical... most battlefield lasers to date simply aren't powerful enough, and maybe dumb countermeasures will be enough to defend against them in the short term. Maybe. But retrofitting your arsenal with laser shielding is not cheap or straightfoward.
I expect more from my fellow commentards. I would have you know that your average household mirror reflects only 40-60% of light. To achieve 99% you need special coatings and materials which tend to be fragile (think telescope mirrors) and short-lived (think anti-glare coating on glasses). They tend to be very narrowly tailored for the wavelength and so would be easily defeated by a multi-wavelength laser. Even with smoke defense, the energies involved are such that the laser would potentially clear its own path. In short, lasers are much cheaper to build than to defend against.
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Presumably, the enemy's intent is for their missile or plane to reach the ship, which ought to be a matter of minutes or seconds. For such a limited-time need, ablative coatings (such as the heat shields on space capsules like Apollo or Dragon) will likely be more effective than reflective coatings.
Paris, because she's hot and doesn't reflect much.
Don't forget the good old rotation. A missile is computer guided (duh), so it has no problems with rotation.
Put it at, say, 30RPM, and all the heat will be spread over its diameter. Not enough to grant immunity - but perhaps enough to hit the target...
"They named a ship for a *pimp*?!"
No I think it's named after some famous military Merkin.
OTOH Calling it the USN "Pimpstick" would send a whole different message to foreign states.
Perhaps with some nice shiny chrome exhaust pipes on either side of the superstructure.
My coat is a floor length Astrakhan which goes with my Leopard skin pork pie hat.
> "They named a ship for a *pimp*?!"
> No I think it's named after some famous military Merkin.
The USS Ponce is named after the city in Puerto Rico (I've been there, it's very nice -- they have a very impressive art museum). The city was named after the the Spaniard who "discovered" Florida: Ponce de Leone.
" No I think it's named after some famous military Merkin."
Well that was my rather obvious guess. US warship, some famous (to Americans) naval figure who no one else has ever heard of.
"(I've been there, it's very nice -- they have a very impressive art museum)."
I did not know this.
AFAIK most people went to PR (or the 51st state as I like to think of it) for booze-and-screw holidays. Like Cuba before Castro.
Not really. The real target for these are not drones. It is non-lethal mode against cameras on drones and eyes of physical personnel on small boats. One pulse and blind forever. It does not take a lot - a few watts (tens of watts at most) @ 1m range are enough to detach your retina or damage a CCD. By the way, navy PR is doing a stellar job in avoiding any further explanations of the "non-lethal mode".
That will not be the engagement mode if NK goes sour. Targets are not going to be small boats with bearded nutters onboard. While some of NK fleet and army is photoshop (tm) it has quite a big stockpile of real weapons including a massive stock of checmical and biological warheads. So there it will be a free for all including proper weapons. Such a toy will have little use there.
They'll just say that the laser is there to dazzle the weapons optics, and that any dazzling or blinding of pilots is just an unavoidable side effect. They already argue that plastic in landmines is to make them hard to find in the ground (legal) and that making the shrapnel hard to find in the body (illegal) is just an unavoidable side effect.
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Maybe because blinder weapons are massively illegal, and the only other people who use them are North Korean.
I don't see why the US has any right to shoot ANYTHING at other nation's drones in International Water, even if they are 'harassing' US ships. One could argue that the US should STFU considering the 'harassment' caused by US drones in Pakistan.
It does not take a lot - a few watts (tens of watts at most) @ 1m range are enough to detach your retina or damage a CCD
It'll take a lot less than that. Tens of watts of reasonably focussed infrared laser shone into your eyeballs will cook them. Permanent damage to eyesight can be done with less than a watt. Lasers capable of pumping out hundreds of kilowatts are incredibly nasty things to be anywhere near at all even if they're not pointed at you.
"Permanent damage to eyesight can be done with less than a watt"
Which makes me wonder what happens when this new fangled laser hits a cloud of old fashioned chaff. Whilst I''d expect it to burn its way through in almost no time, I wouldn't want to watch.
Nope. That only works if you imagine a perfectly spherical cow. In the real world, if you build an airframe that's capable of this, it would be useless for any other task. Moreover, the further it is from the laser, the less effective this would be, as for huge aircraft movements, the laser would only need to make tiny adjustments in positioning its mirror, orders of magnitude smaller than it makes to compensate for waves and ship movement.
My understanding from the video here and from what else I've seen (here on Reg in some BAE rant? :) is that the laser needs to maintain an amount of time on the same, or at least proximate, spot. The area at target is probably less than an inch, so I imagine that the accuracy of which you speak of at the turret's end could also apply to the drone, which has a lot more control over its immediate domain.
Once these lasers can burn a hole within a second or so, of course what I'm saying is moot - but these current systems aren't *that* powerful, no?
For every degree that the laser moves, a drone would have to move 17.454 meters if it's 1 km away and proportionally more with distance. If it does so in a predicable pattern, then its of no use, so you need enormous g-forces and fuel burn. It's true that currently the laser requires relative long on-target time, but with adaptive optics and motion tracking (think Hubble taking pictures of the same patch for minutes while hurtling around earth - and it's hundreds of times slower in tracking than military spy satellites are) that's not a problem. Frankly it doesn't matter even if it took 10 minutes to destroy a target, it simply cannot be evaded through rapid motion. Once this is scaled up, China may find their anti-carrier missiles to be somewhat less threatening.
"Once this is scaled up, China may find their anti-carrier missiles to be somewhat less threatening."
Only if there are more lasers than missiles.
It only takes one to get through in order to give you a bad day. Most don't even need to be particularly well "guided" in order to tie up the defense sytstems.
Yes, yes, phalanx for up close work, but even so, the chinese have more than enough capability to launch a large number of missiles if they want to.
Only if there are more lasers than missiles. It only takes one to get through in order to give you a bad day. Most don't even need to be particularly well "guided" in order to tie up the defense sytstems.
To be pedantic: only if you can put more missiles into the air than the laser can disable in the time it takes a missile to travel from the laser's effective horizon to impacting the ship it is mounted upon (which is ~30 seconds for a Mach 3 missile). That's potentially quite a lot of missiles... missiles that are quite expensive and not exactly commonplace (the Chinese and Russians probably have hundreds, but not thousands, and they'll not all be in one place).
China and Russia may well be equipped for such an attack... folk like Iran almost certainly are not, and they'll be the ones most likely to come to blows with the US in the near future.
Another point is: will they ever be able to do it with semiconductor lasers? They are not particularly efficient and have to be properly cooled so the cooling pack for a MW class laser is truly huge; hence that big lump on the stern of the ship. This for demonstration purposes against a vulnerable target. Demonstration? Yes. War zone? Not yet, if ever.
"semiconductor lasers... are not particularly efficient and have to be properly cooled so the cooling pack for a MW class laser is truly huge; hence that big lump on the stern of the ship. "
If only there was some sort of heat sink such as a large supply of water available...
Sorry. Had to be done. You are correct in that semiconductor lasers would be highly preferable, assuming resolution of all potential kinks, if for no other reason than simplicity and robustness of design.
Until they outfit aircraft with lasers. May take a few years but they will get there.
When they can mount aircraft with a nuclear reactor capable of pumping out megawatts, and a heatsink capable of absorbing that much heat, I'll believe you. But by that point, ocean-going based kit with huge reactors the ocean as a heatsink will be orders of magnitude more powerful again.
Drones bearing big reflectors that let you bounce your battleship's lasers and focus them on targets over the horizon are the likely future of air power.
"Bye bye aircraft carrier ..hello again battleship"
Utter tosh: The whole point of an aircraft carrier is to project power. You can't project power with anything that is only effective to line-of-sight. Especially when it's foggy.
Laser-armed battleships are useless at supporting large-scale operations, unless your entire swathe of targets happens to be lined up on the shore.
Many of you seem to miss the point: this isn't a chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL), or a fluorine laser, or any of the other chemical lasers that have been used in the past for this sort of thing, all of which have limits on the amount of ammunition you can carry, and all of which make some really NASTY exhausts.
This is a solid state laser at weapon-grade power levels. That is significant! That means that a nuclear powered ship can basically fire this for YEARS - the limiting factor being any wear-and-tear on the laser itself. Certainly a ship could operate for a great deal of time without resupply.
This also means that defense systems like you would want in, oh, I don't know, picking a place at random, say, South Korea against artillery barrage is just that much closer to being reality.
I tend to disagree.
Imagine a laser anti-artillery battery in South Korea. Since its power requirements are likely to be colossal, it would have to be fixed, at least the power source would. Even with North Korea's dismal economic state, artillery is relatively cheap. All they need to do is triangulate the position of the power plant, which is relatively simple, wait for a bit of fog to creep in (not that it would defeat the laser, but it would most definitely impair its function) and launch a barrage with n+1 shells, where n is the number that saturates the defences.
For the cost of a 100 artillery shells, a very expensive piece of equipment would be gone.
Now of course, this doesn't take into account air supremacy, which would very likely make mincemeat from the artillery about 20 seconds after its location was known, and so on.
Not that I disagree with you completely - I believe this truly is a massive development. I just don't consider it to be quite the silver bullet you seem to think it is.
This is a solid state laser..........Yup and perhaps this would lead to the development of specific HEMP weapons to combat them. Nuclear of course.
Oh yes I forget, the anti missile missile would combat the HEMP weapon.
That would probably start a development of an early seperation MIRV weapon where the warheads, dummy and real, seperate on acceleration not on re-entry.
Which would probably start the development.......
"This is a solid state laser at weapon-grade power levels. That is significant! That means that a nuclear powered ship can basically fire this for YEARS "
In principle, yes. At the reported "less than a dollar a pop" figure, we can guess that the energy cost to fire the weapon "for a sustained burst" is about the same as a gallon of petrol. So that's around 10^8 joules, 30 kWh before losses. In a short time period that's quite a lot of juice to transfer electrically, which implies that cooling it could be an issue if used repeatedly, although the overall efficiency isn't mentioned.
There's also the issue that bring down a drone is a bit different to bring down missiles or combat aircraft, Positing a 30% efficiency, that's 3*10^7, how would that fare against a missile moving at the speed of sound or faster?
Early days, and interesting progress, but I'll be impressed when this can shoot down an incoming supersonic sea skimmer.
Whilst this currently can't take down missiles and real sized aircraft due to lack of power, what would stop them from installing 10 of these on a suitably sized and powered ship?
Then you could point all 10, or however many was needed, onto the same point on the same target.
And cooling shouldn't be an issue, it's a ship. plenty of cold water under it.
I think the idea would be that this replaces the anti aircraft gun, not the missile defence system. Of course as the power on the lasers ramps up they may well replace the missile defence system too, but that's for the future.
Right now, this is saving the cost of the ammo and maintenance of the mechanical/chemical weapons
"We'll send scouting parties to collect books and stuff, and men like you'll teach the kids. Not poems and rubbish - science, so we can get everything working. We'll build villages and towns and... and... we'll play each other at cricket! Listen, maybe one day we'll capture a Fighting Machine, eh? Learn how to make 'em ourselves and then wallop! Our turn to do some wiping out! Whoosh with our Heat Ray - Whoosh! And them running and dying, beaten at their own game..."
It is named after Ponce in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which in turn was named after the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico and European discoverer of Florida.
Still does not explain why you would want to end up with a ship named USS Ponce!
Firstly, in the US, "ponce" doesn't mean anything in particular. Secondly, the US Navy probably doesn't really worry about about a handful of sniggering Brits. [Did I use the word "sniggering" correcly?]
Actually, I'm not sure if it's the Navy that picks names for ships or if Congress has it's finger in that pie. I wouldn't be surprised if letting a key US Senator pick a ship's name was a nice bit of pork to be doled out come appropriations time. The Navy would probably name a ship the USS Mangrove-Throatwarbler if it meant they'd get enough extra money to build another ship. [Yes, I know that's not how it's spelled.] But that doesn't really explain "Ponce" since the congressional delgation from Puerto Rico don't actually get to vote. Maybe it was in reparation for that one Puerto Rican island that the USN likes to pound the shit out of for practice.
That is all.
Ok, so they need to concentrate on a 1 inch or less spot.
That won't work for a rolling missile.
And I really really have doubts about aluminium frame cruise missiles painted white except under the missile (painted black). My guess: it won't do a thing.
So you would have to hit the nose cone, as it is going to be made of non conductive polymers...
Because if this is a single frequency device then fabricating interference mirrors which are 99.99% reflective at the target wave length is very possible.
It's efficiency is good (for a laser) in the high 20%s and it sound like it's power budget is actually quite reasonable.
Probably it's greatest benefit will be to move the tech of laser lightcraft a step closer to reality.
The dazzle issue against enemy pilots does sound like UN Convention on the Rules of War violation however.
The resurgence of the battleship is already predicted due to rail gun tech.
A battleship with lasers and rail guns would again rule the waves as it could sink anything, including other aircraft carriers well before the aircraft carrier could launch and try to sink the battleship, and it could down any aircraft or missiles that came into range. (Small rail guns for anti aircraft use, larger rail guns for anti ship and land bombardment).
"A battleship with lasers and rail guns would again rule the waves as it could sink anything"
The US can already do that, having the only real Navy on the planet.
The job of carrier battle groups is to project power. That means more than 50m away.
Granted, a rail-gun that is accurate enough *might* be able to displace strike aircraft in SOME circumstances, but Aircraft carriers are NOT going to die because of lasers.
And why would you use small railguns for AAA when missiles still work and are guided. Just because you can throw a slug at mach 10, it doesn't mean it automatically hits aircraft 30nm away.
cost of projectiles
high rate of fire
when I can shoot hundreds of rail gun projectiles for less than the cost of a single missile.
guided munitions from rail guns are within the realm of possibility. but a frangible projectile that became hundreds of hypersonic pellets after being fired would do massive damage on an air craft - sort of a super phallanx. or CiWS
"cost of projectiles
high rate of fire"
Neither of those things allows you to swat aircraft at Standard Missile type ranges, though. And the new weapon development cost alone will far exceed the cost of the number of Standard Missiles the USN is likely to blaze through in the next 20 years.
The rate of fire thing is still a huge issue too, I believe.
"when I can shoot hundreds of rail gun projectiles for less than the cost of a single missile."
Shame they take up so much more room and weigh more.
"guided munitions from rail guns are within the realm of possibility. but a frangible projectile that became hundreds of hypersonic pellets after being fired would do massive damage on an air craft - sort of a super phallanx. or CiWS"
We've yet to build guidance that can handle that kind of acceleration, AFAIK. And frangible projectiles aren't going to have a 10nm range due simply to basic ballistics.
I like railguns, but they aren't a magic wand or super-weapon. They aren't really anything yet, especially a rival to guided munitions - either air or surface launched.
And here, Lord Vader, is the newest mark 5 Death Star, capable of FTL speed to any point in the galaxy, able to destroy an entire planet in half a second, and has an absolutely Rebel-proof grille over the vulnerable cooling port. It also has an impenetrable force field around it, and it is thought controlled by you, personally. It carries more firepower than the rest of the known universe combined, by a factor of five.
The ship is named the "Flaming, Prancing Queer" but since it is thought controlled by you, and you are NOT noted for your sense of humor, I seriously doubt anyone, anywhere is going to make much fun of it, even if it does smell like elderberries.
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