avatar_John Howling Mouse

Star Wars Is Now Upon Us

Started by John Howling Mouse, February 13, 2010, 02:05:03 PM

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John Howling Mouse

SEE VIDEO LINK BELOW.  What I do not understand is the apparent duration of the beam.  Or is that just some sort of tracking beam?  Other than industrial laser cutting tools, most long-range, high energy destructive lasers I've ever read about used millisecond pulses, not sustained beams like you see on the video.  I've even read that anything more than a quick pulse from a higher energy laser can end up melting and re-welding the very destruction it was intending to make so they stick with quick bursts.  Oh well, I'm no expert, anyhow.  What's next?  The Deathstar?

For the first time the U.S. military has shot down a ballistic missile with an airbourne laser beam. The experiment, conducted off the California coast, was to demonstrate the future of defence technology. From the moment the missile was launched, it took the jumbo-jet mounted laser, just two minutes to destroy. The revolutionary use of laser beams is seen as extremely attractive in missile defens More.. More..e, as it has the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, and is far cheaper than current systems.
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Friday.

U.S.

The agency said in a statement the test took place at 8:44 p.m. PST (11:44 p.m. EST) on Thursday /0444 GMT on Friday) at Point Mugu's Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off Ventura in central California.

"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile" the agency said.

The high-powered Airborne Laser system is being developed by Boeing Co., the prime contractor, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Boeing produces the airframe, a modified 747 jumbo jet, while Northrop Grumman supplies the higher-energy laser and Lockheed Martin is developing the beam and fire control systems.

"This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform," the agency added.

The airborne laser weapon successfully underwent its first in-flight test against a target missile back in August. During that test, Boeing said the modified 747-400F aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base and used its infrared sensors to find a target missile launched from San Nicolas Island, California.

The plane's battle management system issued engagement and target location instructions to the laser's fire control system, which tracked the target and fired a test laser at the missile. Instruments on the missile verified the system had hit its mark, Boeing said.

The airborne laser weapon is aimed at deterring enemy missile attacks and providing the U.S. military with the ability to engage all classes of ballistic missiles at the speed of light while they are in the boost phase of flight.

"The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers (miles), and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies," the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=bc7_1265993886   
Video Link

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PR19_Kit

Yes, that beam was fired for about 14-15 secs, quite a long time. Maybe the real destructive laser would only have to zap the missile for a short while though?

One thing I can't figure out, if it's designed to zap the missle in the boost phase the AL-1 will either have to be patrolling near the prospective enemy's launch site or be at some horrendous altitude to 'see' around the Earth's curvature surely?
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kitnut617

I bought my second 1/72 747 kit just so I could build this aircraft.  It is in RW a 747-400F but has engines that are the same as the E-4B and as Transport Wings (Aircraft in Miniature) makes/made (OOP at the moment) a -400 and a conversion to do a -400F (short top deck) and the E-4B I wrote to them to see if I could buy the conversion and just some engines.  I explained what I wanted them for and the answer I got was to --- 'hold my horses, there's something in the works',  I'm reading that there will be a Boeing YAL-1 in the future, near or far I don't know, but AiM has been ramping up it's releases lately. Watch Hannants' future release section ------
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jcf

Quote from: PR19_Kit on February 13, 2010, 04:43:31 PM
Yes, that beam was fired for about 14-15 secs, quite a long time. Maybe the real destructive laser would only have to zap the missile for a short while though?

One thing I can't figure out, if it's designed to zap the missle in the boost phase the AL-1 will either have to be patrolling near the prospective enemy's launch site or be at some horrendous altitude to 'see' around the Earth's curvature surely?

ABL uses lower power beams for targeting and the main chemical laser only fires for 3 to 5 seconds.
The fire from the megawatt class main chemical laser weakens the skin of the target causing fractures
resulting in the missile failing structurally due to aerodynamic forces. It doesn't melt the target, cut throgh
it, or blow it up movie style. ;)

ABL is definitely designed for use against 'rogue' states (Iran, N. Korea etc) rather than a major power, so yes it would be
put on patrol close to the 'enemy' launch sites if warranted by a deteriorating situation.

As a bit of trivia, some of the electrical system mods to the base freighter were done as part of normal engineering
flow when I was working wire design on the 747-400, mostly we took stuff off. :)

rickshaw

Quote from: PR19_Kit on February 13, 2010, 04:43:31 PM
Yes, that beam was fired for about 14-15 secs, quite a long time. Maybe the real destructive laser would only have to zap the missile for a short while though?

One thing I can't figure out, if it's designed to zap the missle in the boost phase the AL-1 will either have to be patrolling near the prospective enemy's launch site or be at some horrendous altitude to 'see' around the Earth's curvature surely?

Its intended to be used primarily against IRBM or SRBM, rather than ICBMs.  One of the problems with laser weapons and the boost phase destruction of missiles is, as you point out they have to be able to "see" missile as it launches.   ICBMs though, tend to be usually based a considerable distance from national borders - except in the case of the DPRK.  IRBMs and SRBMs, on the otherhand though, tend to be close to their targets because of their shorter range and if those targets are field armies, then having an airborne laser patrolling overhead makes perfect sense.
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Weaver

Wonder how hard it would be to make a missile resistant to the beam? Insulating layer outside the structural airframe, ablative layer outside the insulating layer, reflective layer outside the ablative layer and spin the missile so the laser energy is distributed around the surface rather than heating up one side of it....
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RLBH

Quote from: Weaver on February 15, 2010, 04:11:40 AM
Wonder how hard it would be to make a missile resistant to the beam? Insulating layer outside the structural airframe, ablative layer outside the insulating layer, reflective layer outside the ablative layer and spin the missile so the laser energy is distributed around the surface rather than heating up one side of it....

Very. Spinning missiles don't work (solid propellants disintegrate, and you need so much structure to stop liquids sloshing you can barely get off the pad) and mirrors don't reflect enough of the energy unless very heavy. Weight is king on ballistic missiles.

Mossie

Maybe a kind of chaff that would dimminish the beam enough to prevent damage?  If you've got three to five seconds that might be enough.
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elmayerle

Quote from: Mossie on February 15, 2010, 08:42:13 AM
Maybe a kind of chaff that would dimminish the beam enough to prevent damage?  If you've got three to five seconds that might be enough.
Hard to have the chaff rising with the missile, though.  And putting chaff dispensers in the missile again brings up the weight bugaboo.
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dragon

Quote from: elmayerle on February 15, 2010, 02:44:08 PM
Quote from: Mossie on February 15, 2010, 08:42:13 AM
Maybe a kind of chaff that would dimminish the beam enough to prevent damage?  If you've got three to five seconds that might be enough.
Hard to have the chaff rising with the missile, though.  And putting chaff dispensers in the missile again brings up the weight bugaboo.
Then again, if you had the industrial capability, you could build a bunch of "decoys" to be fired at the same time as the "nukes".  There really is no way to target all of them, and the odds...Let's just say that the boys in Las Vegas would not bet on them.  Of course, the "decoys" could have their warheads filled with conventional explosives too.
Just a horribly evil thought.
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rickshaw

Quote from: RLBH on February 15, 2010, 04:36:31 AM
Quote from: Weaver on February 15, 2010, 04:11:40 AM
Wonder how hard it would be to make a missile resistant to the beam? Insulating layer outside the structural airframe, ablative layer outside the insulating layer, reflective layer outside the ablative layer and spin the missile so the laser energy is distributed around the surface rather than heating up one side of it....

Very. Spinning missiles don't work (solid propellants disintegrate, and you need so much structure to stop liquids sloshing you can barely get off the pad) and mirrors don't reflect enough of the energy unless very heavy. Weight is king on ballistic missiles.

Mmm, not sure why you claim "spinning missiles" causes solid propellants to disintegrate.  It would be child's play to place strakes in the combustion chamber to reduce the strain on the propellent.  As most solid propellant rockets rely not on a solid mass of propellant but a hollow core, the centrifugal force produced by the spinning would actually help hold the propellant in place within the combustion chamber.   Of potentially greater concern might be the loss of thrust caused by uneven burning as a result of the spinning but again I believe that could be overcome without too much difficulty (the strakes would help there.   As for liquid propellant rockets, again centrifugal force would merely force the propellant liquids to the walls of the tanks.  You might need to strengthen the tanks but why bother trying to stop it?

To me, spinning the missile and putting a highly reflective surface, such as mylar (which is very light weight) would reduce the ability of the laser to consecutively heat the surface in any one spot for long enough for it to be melted.  What it does is complicate the problem for the laser.

One area spinning though, could create complications for the missile is in guidance systems.
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kitnut617

Quote from: rickshaw on February 16, 2010, 05:49:34 AM

One area spinning though, could create complications for the missile is in guidance systems.

I was just going to jump in and mention that    ;D  I have a book called 'V-2' written by, or in conjunction with, the German Commander of the project, Dornberger or something like that.  It says they went to great lengths to control the spinning of the rocket as most of the failures could be contributed to it.
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RLBH

Quote from: dragonThen again, if you had the industrial capability, you could build a bunch of "decoys" to be fired at the same time as the "nukes".  There really is no way to target all of them, and the odds...Let's just say that the boys in Las Vegas would not bet on them.  Of course, the "decoys" could have their warheads filled with conventional explosives too.

To be useful, the decoy has to be indistinguishable from a genuine missile. Which in practice means it has to be identical to a genuine missile, and you won't be able to build them in enough quantities to be useful.

Quote from: rickshaw on February 16, 2010, 05:49:34 AM
Quote from: RLBH on February 15, 2010, 04:36:31 AM
Quote from: Weaver on February 15, 2010, 04:11:40 AM
Wonder how hard it would be to make a missile resistant to the beam? Insulating layer outside the structural airframe, ablative layer outside the insulating layer, reflective layer outside the ablative layer and spin the missile so the laser energy is distributed around the surface rather than heating up one side of it....

Very. Spinning missiles don't work (solid propellants disintegrate, and you need so much structure to stop liquids sloshing you can barely get off the pad) and mirrors don't reflect enough of the energy unless very heavy. Weight is king on ballistic missiles.

Mmm, not sure why you claim "spinning missiles" causes solid propellants to disintegrate.  It would be child's play to place strakes in the combustion chamber to reduce the strain on the propellent.  As most solid propellant rockets rely not on a solid mass of propellant but a hollow core, the centrifugal force produced by the spinning would actually help hold the propellant in place within the combustion chamber.

Solid propellants aren't homogenous, but have grains of propellant embedded in a matrix. The centrifugal force pulls it out of the matrix, concentrating it all on the outside. Given that solid propellants are distinguished from high explosives chiefly by the fact that they are diluted by the matrix, you can guess what happens when the concentrations finally catch.
QuoteOf potentially greater concern might be the loss of thrust caused by uneven burning as a result of the spinning but again I believe that could be overcome without too much difficulty (the strakes would help there.   As for liquid propellant rockets, again centrifugal force would merely force the propellant liquids to the walls of the tanks.  You might need to strengthen the tanks but why bother trying to stop it?

Added strength means more weight. This extra weight wipes out the payload, and you just built a really expensive toy rocket.

QuoteTo me, spinning the missile and putting a highly reflective surface, such as mylar (which is very light weight) would reduce the ability of the laser to consecutively heat the surface in any one spot for long enough for it to be melted.  What it does is complicate the problem for the laser.

One area spinning though, could create complications for the missile is in guidance systems.

A chap on another forum was actually at a meeting where spinning ICBMs were proposed to protect against laser attack, and one of the missile companies did study it in some detail, resulting in the problems I've mentioned. Apparently, the idea did lead to an interesting idea in guidance, but I don't know what that was.

sagallacci

Spinning is more a problem for guidance than solid motors, some ballistic unguided missiles were spun for stability. However spinning alone likely wouldn't help as needed weapon-on-target time gets shorter. Purpose built ablative covered missiles might have a chance, if they were willing to pay the weight penalties/performance compromises.
However, the real value of an airborne system might be is in deterrence, making an attack plan too iffy or expensive, very important for smaller powers with limited resource.
Attack beams would/could/should be pulsed, but so fast as to not be eye-ball visible.

Jschmus

Boeing is now preparing a laser system for use from the next generation of surface vessels:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/03/boeing-completes-preliminary-design-of.html
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