Monday, February 11, 2013

US Navy and Air Force test and implement laser weapons

Laser technology, more specifically laser weaponry, is one of the dreams for a science-fiction enthusiast like because I have always imagined seeing the US military, one day, using laser weapons. Well, immergence for laser weaponry is definitely near. Over the last few years and months, the US military and its many contractors, i.e. Raytheon Co., have started implementing laser technology on surface and air vehicles. This once object of science fiction is now our science reality. This advancement in military technology is another response to the rapid changes that happen all the time. Mostly, laser technology is a direct response and defense against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Even though the majority of the US public only knows of UAVs from major news sources, they often forget or do not know that other countries are also acquiring and implementing UAVs against the US military. So, in order to counter this revolution of UAVs, the US and its allies are already testing the effectiveness of laser weaponry against UAVs. It is important to note, the US military has used Phalanx for decades to shoot down mortars and rockets. The weapon combines a 20-millimeter Gatling gun that fires at a rate of either 3,000 or 4,500 shots per minute, with radar to search for and track targets. The US Navy has used a land-based version of Phalanx in Iraq since 2005. Mounting a laser cannon beside the Gatling gun should extend the range at which incoming ordinance and UAVs can be eliminated. How the laser weaponry works: The laser weapon system, with a power output of 150 kilowatts, uses a combination of radar and optical systems to detect and track incoming drones. Radar provides an approximate location of the targets, and the optical system takes over to pinpoint the drone's position. Also, the high-energy laser system is able cut through a steel girder almost two-thirds of a mile away. The US Navy and Air Force of the next decade could be equipped with laser weaponry that’s small enough to outfit fighter jets, considerably bolstering U.S. defense capabilities. The significance is this: The 150-kilowatt lasers are an entirely new class of weapon — 10 times smaller and lighter than current laser technology — and would enable a speedier response by fighter jets to threats. These weapons typically defend the United States against rockets, surface-to-air missiles and other weapons that threaten aircraft. However, the new lasers also could go on the offense against certain types of ground targets. The Navy is hoping to test the 150-kilowatt laser against surface ship targets. Raytheon Co. says ground-based training on the new laser is scheduled for 2014. By the way, this guy is definitely not in charge: Dr. Evil

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