chinese laser weapon development


Scratch

Captain
Looks like it is a bit late on schedule since the prototype was supposed to be demonstrated in 2010...
I think about one year ago, Boeing succesfully tested a laser firing from a (A)C-130 testbed. That laser also "defeated" a stationary ground target. This advanced tactical laser program uses a chemical oxygen iodine laser wich is supposed to have a range of up to 20km.
It probably needs to be smaller to fit into tacticly more usefull aircraft. I guess it'll be some time unitl it will work on a F-35. It will have to be solid state I would say and the biggest issue is probably time to reload. I would guess that a capacitor operated by the aircraft's electrical system will ultimately have to power the on board laser. For now I could imagine that these IR countermeassure lasers that blind IR seekers will also be mounted on fighters in the near future, there should be enough power at least to do so.
 

siegecrossbow

Brigadier
Staff member
Super Moderator
I think about one year ago, Boeing succesfully tested a laser firing from a (A)C-130 testbed. That laser also "defeated" a stationary ground target. This advanced tactical laser program uses a chemical oxygen iodine laser wich is supposed to have a range of up to 20km.
It probably needs to be smaller to fit into tacticly more usefull aircraft. I guess it'll be some time unitl it will work on a F-35. It will have to be solid state I would say and the biggest issue is probably time to reload. I would guess that a capacitor operated by the aircraft's electrical system will ultimately have to power the on board laser. For now I could imagine that these IR countermeassure lasers that blind IR seekers will also be mounted on fighters in the near future, there should be enough power at least to do so.
The IR blinder has already been demonstrated on helicopters. Check out my post in the directed energy weapons thread.

It looks like that the primary focus for the F-35 laser will be anti-ground/slow moving aircrafts. I was actually kinda hoping for a longer range replacement for the gatling gun. Guess it'll take a while before that happens.
 

Spartan95

Junior Member
They had the collapse of the Soviet Union to show for it. Star wars was far more an economic than a military exercise. They forced the Soviets into an insanely expensive technology race that they felt they had to take part in knowing it would drain money at an extraordinary rate. They gambled correctly. The US had billions upon billions to lose, the Soviets did not.

It was a brilliant economic coup.
Lol!

And which country is the biggest debtor nation on earth now? And which country happens to have the largest reserves on earth now?

Another "brilliant economic coup" like that and the economy that will collapse is Wall Street and Main Street. :rofl:
 

siegecrossbow

Brigadier
Staff member
Super Moderator
Let me remind you fellows to..

[qimg]http://i9.tinypic.com/661ubr4.jpg[/qimg]

bd popeye super moderator
Haha just wanted to comment on how the Star Wars themed "stay on topic image" in a thread about laser weapons :D.

On topic:

Does any one know how traditional point defence like CIWS and point-defence missiles are against ballistic missile warheads? Thanks in advance.
 

no_name

Major
I feel that they have limited defense because ballistic missiles tend to drop almost directly from above at very high speeds. If the warhead is composed of something similar to tungsten rod then effectiveness will be diminished. Also trajectory is not likely to be deviated much even if a hit is registered,

I feel CIWS and point defense are more suitable for missiles that still have propulsion stage attached to it and required for final homing.
Possibly the same thing for laser based CIWS systems (sly sttempt to connect to topic :D)

just my opinion.
 
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siegecrossbow

Brigadier
Staff member
Super Moderator
I feel CIWS and point defense are more suitable for missiles that still have propulsion stage attached to it and required for final homing.
Possibly the same thing for laser based CIWS systems (sly sttempt to connect to topic :D)
just my opinion.
This is the point that I was trying to get to, believe it or not. I am curious about whether lasers are better for point defence than traditional CIWS. Lasers travel at the speed of light so I would count that as an advantage in its favor (no need to compute the coordinates of bullets/missiles) but how well it fare against a ballistic warhead's heatshield?
 

no_name

Major
This is the point that I was trying to get to, believe it or not. I am curious about whether lasers are better for point defence than traditional CIWS. Lasers travel at the speed of light so I would count that as an advantage in its favor (no need to compute the coordinates of bullets/missiles) but how well it fare against a ballistic warhead's heatshield?
With my limited knowledge I believe laser currently lacks punch in that a laser beam does not have much kinetic energy at all. It causes heating and rapid expansion and distortion of contact surface so it is useful for damaging missile structures/ sensors and explosive chemical warheads. I don't think it will be useful against solid dense kinetic projectiles like tungsten rods. Especially one that is designed to fly at high speed/ high air pressure and potentially high temperature.

edit: Could the US development of rail gun technology partially be due to this (laser based defense)? IF it achieve ranges comparatively close to what can be achieved with missiles using kinetic projectile and within reasonable economic cost and technical challenge then I can see why they find the idea attractive.
 
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Spartan95

Junior Member
On topic:

Does any one know how traditional point defence like CIWS and point-defence missiles are against ballistic missile warheads? Thanks in advance.
Based on what I know (I did a module on phased array radars, lasers and military technology during my studies), there are a few issues that militaries haven't really addressed in their statements about laser weapon developments as well as defending ship's against ballistic missiles.

1. Radar tracking of ballistic missiles. This is an issue for current ship-borne radars, which are designed and mounted in optimum positions for sea-skimming missiles. They are also optimised to track aircraft at high altitudes at a distance (for threats such as those posed by bombers carrying ASCMs).

Unfortunately, there is currently no radar that I'm aware of on a ship that looks directly upwards. And this is where a ballistic missile is likely to come from.

Whilst Phased Array Radars may be able to provide some tracking at such elevated angles, their tracking performance is likely to be sub-optimal since it is likely to be at or near the extremities of the electronic steering capabilities of the radar.

To illustrate this, let's look at the Aegic cruiser, which mounts 4 PARs to provide all-round horizontal coverage. Thus, it can be deduced that the optimal coverage of each PAR is ~90 deg (or +/- 45 either side of its facing). Factoring in an arbitrary overlap (since the actual overlap is classified and not in public domains) of +/- 15 deg provides a good coverage of +/- 60 deg coverage either side of its facing. Applying this to the vertical plane (assuming the performance horizontally and vertically is similar), than a ballistic missile coming in at 80deg on top of its target will make tracking difficult for an Aegis ship.

Personally, I believe this is 1 of the factors that drove PLAN thinking in development of the ASBM.

2. Conventional CIWS. These weapons are traditionally optimised for sea-skimming missiles. Typically, these systems have their own tracker, but needs to be cued to the target by surveillance radars so that their trackers can lock on to the target. Thus, pt 1 above needs to be solved for these guys to be useful.

In addition, there is a upper limit to their elevation. The latest Phalanx CIWS can be elevated up to 85 deg.

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Thus, a ballistic missile coming in at more than 85 deg renders this weapon useless since it is beyond its firing arc.

Even if the ballistic missile is coming in at high elevations such as 80 deg, and the CIWS is able to hit the ASBM, the resulting debris travelling at hypersonic speeds will still hit the target ship. Not a happy prospect.

3. Laser Weapons. 1 of the most interesting aspects I find about Pentagon reports on their laser weapon developments is that they omit important information that relates to the effectiveness of the laser weapon itself.

a. How long does it take the laser (such as the ABL) to do damage to its target? The recent ABL test failure alluded to this aspect whilst previous statements did not mention how long it takes for the laser to cause damage at all.

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Personally, I think the laser will take some time to shine at the same spot before it causes any damage (based on my experience doing experiments with lasers in my physics lab during my student days). The duration is likely to be more than a few seconds. And the greater the range, the longer the duration required (tyranny of inverse square root). If the duration required is in the order of 0.5 mins or more, than laser as a CIWS defence against a ASBM is practically useless.

b. What is the recharge time for lasers weapons before they can fire again? This was never mentioned anywhere at all in reports. While the mobile THEL was mentioned as:

During a recent test conducted on Aug. 24, 2004 the system shot down multiple mortar rounds, demonstrating potential its battlefield application for to protection against common threats.
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The report did not mention whether the multiple mortar rounds were shot down within a few minutes, or the shooting down took place over an hour (or longer duration).

c. What is the effective range of laser weapons? For the ABL, the test range was never revealed, although the recent failed test was mentioned to be at a range of more than 50 miles. Since it was also mentioned that this is double the range of the previous successful test, the logical deduction is that the ABL was successfully tested at less than 50 miles previously.

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Assuming that the ABL has an effective range of 100 miles (double what was revealed), let's look at what this means for laser weapons (taking into consideration pt 2 above).

i. At current tech levels, a laser the size of a 747 aircraft is effective out to 100 miles. Scaling it down means that vehicle mounted lasers will be effective at much shorter ranges. On the other hand, ship mounted lasers can conceivably be effective at more than 10 miles (if mounted on a large enough ship, such as a cruiser). This makes the laser more effective than a CIWS, if it can have a high rate of fire and is lethal in short time durations (seconds, not mins).

ii. The ABL takes advantage of the rarefied atmosphere at high altitudes, which translates into reduced atmospheric dispersion for the laser beam, thus increasing its effective range.

There is no such luxury at sea level.

The salt content at sea level, and higher levels of moisture (dust in land environments) in the air will result in higher levels of atmospheric dispersion for the laser beam. Which translates into reduced effective range for the laser.

Conclusion.

While all the points above sound like serious constrains to laser weapons, it does not mean that they are not viable. However, it does mean that a lot of developmental effort will be required to overcome all these challenges to make laser weapons viable in an operational environment.

Furthermore, the advantages of a speed of light weapon is not to be dismissed lightly. If successful, laser weapons will probably revolutionise warfare the same way guided weapons did in the past.
 

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