Advent of Laser Weapons

WolfPackOtaku

-chan
Kouhai
The BBC news reported on July 19th that a successful test of a solid-state aser as a weapons platform was demonstrated in Great Britain at an aerospace trade show. The company is U.S. defense contractor Raytheon Corporation. The address for the news article is below:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10682693

The initial application for the new weapons platform is for long-range defense of U.S. naval ships that work in tandem with the 20 mm gatling cannons which are meant to destroy incoming missiles.

There is a great amount of potential for land-based defense systems, which could dwarf any potential sea-based systems. There is also the potential to use the weapons offensively in air, land, and sea by the end of the next decade, possibly by the end of this decade.

With this new type of weapon that has great potential , there are ethical issues involved.

1. Range of firing at a target can be measured in miles when sufficiently powered.

2. Militarization of space a la James Bond in "Diamonds are Forever". All you need is a sufficient capacitor to store the energy and a sufficiently sized solar panel array.

3. Once fired at a target, almost a 100% hit rate and kill rate.

4. The countries with the most technology have a new devastating power over countries that do not have the technological and economic resources to manufacture laser weaponry.If you can hit an enemy anytime, anywhere, fear and paranoia could spread among the third and second world.


But I see a good side to the development of this technology. In order to create any fusion or possibly matter/anti-matter reactors, sufficiently powered lasers are needed to excite the gases into the required temperature range to reach the fourth state of matter, plasma.

A planetary defense system against asteroids could be developed to prevent the human species from becoming extinct by a massive impact on the Earth's surface.

What are your thoughts?
 

khael

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\ being M
Sempai
Well, looks like what's showcased in Command & Conquer Generals is coming true. At least the missile defense system part.

QUOTE
2. Militarization of space a la James Bond in "Diamonds are Forever". All you need is a sufficient capacitor to store the energy and a sufficiently sized solar panel array.

It'll be a long time before this stuff happens. Rods from God is more likely to happen. Or rather, debris from God if they chunk random stuff they find out there that's big and heavy enough down here lol.


QUOTE
A planetary defense system against asteroids could be developed to prevent the human species from becoming extinct by a massive impact on the Earth's surface.

It could prolly cut small asteroids and meteors in half but you'd need a much more powerful beam or at least multiple lasers to pull this off.

What I'm really looking forward to is the carbon-nanotubes technology or something like that. It'll probably be used to replace kevlar though I think it has more potential than just that.
 

monsta666

-the bee's knees
Staff member
Fansub TV Team
If they could overcome the problems of laser power (namely energy dispersal) then it would revolutionise warfare as we know it. The main advantage of laser weapons is that the laser will travel at the speed of light. Since the speed of light is much faster than bullets and missiles it could render such forms of attacks useless as a laser could easily destroy them in mid-flight. This would reduce the threat of a nuclear attack enormously.

An army with such a weapon would gain a huge advantage. Another advantage of lasers would be its increased accuracy as the influence of gravity/wind would be minimal (due to high speed and no mass of laser) so any attack that requires extreme precision would become more feasible. Such a quality is especially useful in today's fight against terrorism were the need to attack specific targets is greater than ever.

But like all previous technological innovations there would most likely be a countermeasure which would lead to another arms-race. So in the end we would probably be in the same position as before only with stronger weapons that can do more damage if given to the wrong hands. Would it be a good thing? I think not. The arms race for nuclear/bio/chemical and nerve weapons shows little can be gained by such advanced weaponry.

QUOTE (WolfPackOtaku @ Jul 22 2010, 03:09 AM)But I see a good side to the development of this technology. In order to create any fusion or possibly matter/anti-matter reactors, sufficiently powered lasers are needed to excite the gases into the required temperature range to reach the fourth state of matter, plasma.
Laser is not the only method of heating a plasma sufficiently to induce a fusion reaction. Indeed the most successful method (a term I use reluctantly since fusion technology has yet to produce a commercially viable reactor) involves using magnetic rings machines called tokamaks. The leading experimental reactors heat the plasma with tokamaks not laser. That said, laser technology is the leading contender to the tokamak so it could well be that laser technology is eventually used in fusion reactors.


QUOTE (khael @ Jul 22 2010, 03:10 PM)What I'm really looking forward to is the carbon-nanotubes technology or something like that. It'll probably be used to replace kevlar though I think it has more potential than just that.
I did hear carbon-nanotubes have sufficient tensile strength to make a space elevator feasible. If such an elevator were made it would dramatically reduce the cost of transporting payloads into space. However to yield such benefits one would require a huge initial outlay to build the elevator in the first place. Like fusion technology, I wouldn't expect any space elevators in the foreseeable future.
 

khael

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\ being M
Sempai
QUOTE
But like all previous technological innovations there would most likely be a countermeasure which would lead to another arms-race

The only most likely counter-measure I can think of right now would be adding a coating or using material that can reflect the laser.

Anyway, WMDs still pose a bigger threat, so I won't fret over it just yet. As of right now, the system's designed for defensive purposes, so I don't expect anything major. Plus it's not YET AI controlled/automated from what I've read, so the response time and accuracy depends upon the gunman.

On carbon nanotubes, the stuff might probably be usable to a lot more stuff than just armor. For instance, if mass production of the stuff becomes possible, it may be used in bodies of various vehicles or in making a lot of stuff very durable.

Also, it's supposedly capable of conducting electricity which isn't something carbon couldn't normally do. IIRC saw it on Sci-Fi Science, a show on Discovery. The host's Michio Kaku. Anyway the stuff and this uber strong spring was what he was going to use to make a "power suit", sort of like Iron Man's [fun stuff indeed], and plans to use its conductivity to make an uber battery [since a superconductor at room temperature hasn't even been found yet].

All in all, pretty interesting stuff. Too bad I'd prolly be dead once these things are used to their full potential ;_;. Anyway, why not just turn this into an advanced military technology thread? Or at least let us discuss stuff like that here. Just post here if you guys find more interesting stuff.
 

obsan

-chan
Kouhai
I think this is a first good step for practical warfare and deterrence through laser technology, however I think a more wide spread use of it is still far off.

From what I understand about lasers, they're line of sight so any use for national defense of a country would be defensive, like shooting down missiles. I don't believe it's possible for a laser to follow the curvature of the earth and be shot from one country to the next unless it's reflected via satellite. Now installing them in orbit; that was the original announcement of the Star Wars project back during the Regan years to shoot down any nuclear missiles that may be launched. The problem I see there though would be the power source and lack of renewable energy. (We won't have a manned space program in the US thanks to Obama)

I know they've been conducting experiments with matter/antimatter through proton beams with the Large Hadron Collider. The problem though from what I've read and seen is the amount of antimatter produced is so small and often hard to detect. So unfortunately I think the prospect of harnessing it and utilizing it as a power source will be future endeavor, perhaps 50 years in my guesstimation.

I also think large scale deployment of any type of laser system will be, at best problematic since defense budgets are constantly under attack by bureaucracy and politics. Any hint that a country begins arming their military and borders with laser weapons would immediately cause a backlash globally and would start another cold war type build off. Plus, I think for a laser system to be viable against armed units like planes, they would need to be fully automated in order to counter the speed at which they travel. And, I seriously doubt at the moment anyway, they would be able to counter stealth technology to be able to intercept an aerial attack until it's too late.

I do think this is a great first step in developing the technology (hell I still hope for lightsabers before I die
laugh.gif
) and I am impressed they've been able to take a once sci-fi special effect and make it into a reality. I just think if it took 50 years from when lasers were invented, it will probably take at least half that before they are feasible in large scale deployment.
 

monsta666

-the bee's knees
Staff member
Fansub TV Team
QUOTE (obsan @ Jul 26 2010, 04:42 PM)From what I understand about lasers, they're line of sight so any use for national defense of a country would be defensive, like shooting down missiles. I don't believe it's possible for a laser to follow the curvature of the earth and be shot from one country to the next unless it's reflected via satellite.
That would be one of the limitations of laser technology. It can only follow a straight path so if the terrain contains a lot of hills you cannot shoot a target from the other side of the hill like you would with conventional artillery (short of using mirrors).


QUOTE (obsan)Now installing them in orbit; that was the original announcement of the Star Wars project back during the Regan years to shoot down any nuclear missiles that may be launched. The problem I see there though would be the power source and lack of renewable energy.
Wasn't that project canceled due to excessive costs?


QUOTE (obsan)We won't have a manned space program in the US thanks to Obama
That, in my eyes, is a good thing. Manned spaceflight to Mars and the Moon will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The scientific benefits of such a expedition will be minimal and will certainly not justify the level of spending required to make such an ambitious project possible. If the goal is to develop greater scientific understanding of our solar system then it is more cost effective to invest in unmanned spacecraft. I feel such long manned expeditions are not done for scientific purposes but merely issues of pride.


QUOTE (obsan)I know they've been conducting experiments with matter/antimatter through proton beams with the Large Hadron Collider. The problem though from what I've read and seen is the amount of antimatter produced is so small and often hard to detect. So unfortunately I think the prospect of harnessing it and utilizing it as a power source will be future endeavor, perhaps 50 years in my guesstimation.
Yes that is very true. I heard that anti-matter is the most expensive material in the world on account it is so difficult to produce. I even think your estimation of 50 years is too optimistic. They can only produce tiny amounts of antimatter today and it will be many years before we can make enough antimatter to develop worthwhile applications never-mind utilizing it as an energy source. It is highly likely (barring a remarkable breakthrough) that fusion technology will come before anti-matter's power is fully realised.

That said, if antimatter were harassed it will produce a enormous amount of energy. It is better than fusion technology as the amount of energy gained is the full mass of the annihilated object whereas fusion will only gain energy between the difference in mass between the fused and un-fused masses.


QUOTE (obsan)I also think large scale deployment of any type of laser system will be, at best problematic since defense budgets are constantly under attack by bureaucracy and politics. Any hint that a country begins arming their military and borders with laser weapons would immediately cause a backlash globally and would start another cold war type build off. Plus, I think for a laser system to be viable against armed units like planes, they would need to be fully automated in order to counter the speed at which they travel. And, I seriously doubt at the moment anyway, they would be able to counter stealth technology to be able to intercept an aerial attack until it's too late.
That is a very likely outcome. Although since lasers will not be as destructive as nuclear weapons the amount of political tension caused by deploying such weapons wouldn't be nearly as high. It would revolutionize modern warfare though.
 

obsan

-chan
Kouhai
The SDI (or Star Wars program) was basically dissolved into and renamed to Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). Space defense research is still heavily funded and hasn't really gone away, though there are significant changes (at least publicly) in what they're researching. The actual defense of ICBMs and liked rocketry has for the most part stayed on the ground in favor of "defense umbrellas" that encompass areas of lands to defend against likely attacks.

As for manned space flight, one of the points I would make is without the US having manned space flight and relying upon other countries to usher our men into space, the country runs to risk of not being able to repair any satellites in orbit or deployed in the future without exposing other countries to classified technology. The likelihood that the US would allow any exposure to technology that's classified is little to zero, especially since countries like Russia and China still have nukes pointed at each other and the US. That leads only to the possibilities of downing them and replacing the satellite (which would cost millions of dollars) to keep that technology from falling into other hands.

If, by chance, those satellites do have laser technology on them, (or for that matter nukes) other countries would love to get their hands on them. And for that matter, if the US ends up trying to negotiate with a power like Russia or China (or Japan for that matter) to allow them to fix such technology that's in deployment, it could spark an international incident.

Imagine the impact on the global community if it were discovered a country has a satellite in orbit that could potentially target any city, any person or building and take them out with a focused laser shot. No launch, no way to track the shot by radar; a beam raining down that can take out another political leader of a country, wipe out the base of another army, or destroy entire cities. If such a device was placed in orbit by a country who can't even maintain it by sending men into space, that lack of a fail safe in maintenance and deployment sets the country up for future problems and likely discovery by those who can send a shuttle mission up and inspect what's been placed in orbit.
 
Playasia - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more
Top