KABOOM! Navy Gets A Laser Gun, Starts Blowing Things Up

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KABOOM! Navy Gets A Laser Gun, Starts Blowing Things Up

The American Navy has introduced a laser weapon system that's cheap, reliable, and can be set to stun or kill.

Ladies and gentlemen. For over a century, scientists, military tacticians, and sci-fan fans alike asked a single question: When will wars be fought with laser guns? Now we seem to be approaching that reality, especially if information from the American Navy is anything to go on. Over the course of operational demonstrations in the Arabian Gulf, the USS Ponce used a prototype laser weapon system to destroy moving test targets, and literally shoot a flying drone out of the sky. But perhaps the strangest part? The entire system is controlled from a video game styled controller.

"Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations," said chief of naval research, Rear Admiral Matthew L. Klunder. "We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality."

Don't take that lethality comment completely to heart; these lasers can do a lot more than kill. The laser weapon system, called LaWS, has a range of escalation options. While it can be set to destroy, it's also programmed with non-lethal measures like dazzling or disabling targets.

You read that right. Laser guns are real, and they can be set to stun or kill.

But perhaps you're asking why, outside of non-lethal options, we'd want LaWS over traditional armaments? First of all, you have no soul. Second of all, lasers are amazingly cost effective. Your average kinetic missile usually costs millions of dollars to produce, and contains fuel and gunpowder that could harm the crew in an accident. The laser system is safer, since it runs entirely on electricity, and is cheaper to install and fire. For example, it only costs a single dollar to fire a shot from this weapon, which is far cheaper than most bullets.

"At less than a dollar per shot, there's no question about the value LaWS provides," Klunder continued. "With affordability a serious concern for our defense budgets, this will more effectively manage resources to ensure our Sailors and Marines are never in a fair fight."

What's more, LaWS operated seamlessly with preexisting ship defense systems, and worked perfectly in a variety of adverse weather conditions. That's all incredibly impressive for a technology that hasn't even been deployed in combat yet. Either way, you should certainly expect to see more of this technology in the future.

Source: America's Navy

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Not exactly pew-pew lasers. More like "Things will explode and you won't know why".

Good going guys.

The commander wants them alive. Set your weapons to dazzle.

There's no visible "projectile".

It doesn't make a noise.

I want my money back.

While this is cool, I have to question the range on that. Yeah, it's cheaper then a missile, but a missile can fly for a hundred miles or more to a target.

Not to mention the need for better/larger power plants for better lasers. Yeah, it's cool, but right now the navy is seriously worried about keeping it's ships and aircraft from breaking, due to budgets being cut at the same time it's being asked to do more.

Dark Knifer:
Not exactly pew-pew lasers. More like "Things will explode and you won't know why".

Good going guys.

Zhukov:
There's no visibly "projectile".

It doesn't make a noise.

I want my money back.

It IS a prototype. Maybe they'll add the feature for LaWS 2.0.

Not much left to be said...other than this!

Nifty, now can we get back to funding more useful ventures?

"Set Lasers on Stun number 1. Engage."

Some Naval Captain is either going to feel very awesome for one moment of his life or will not have a damn clue what he just referenced.

Ah, you know what that smell is? Progress!

God I love me some good science. Now let's see if we can make it into long-term space travel!

Imperioratorex Caprae:
"Set Lasers on Stun number 1. Engage."

Some Naval Captain is either going to feel very awesome for one moment of his life or will not have a damn clue what he just referenced.

Well trek is part of the naval vernacular (in the RCN one of the reasons for a ship being late is "Warp drive offline, reverting to impulse").

Zontar:

Imperioratorex Caprae:
"Set Lasers on Stun number 1. Engage."

Some Naval Captain is either going to feel very awesome for one moment of his life or will not have a damn clue what he just referenced.

Well trek is part of the naval vernacular (in the RCN one of the reasons for a ship being late is "Warp drive offline, reverting to impulse").

True, but there's got to be something really special about being able to quote Trek and not be semi-fallacious about it. Sure its laser and not "phaser" but damn thats close enough and it has a stun function... c'mon!

I want to see it cut a mountain in half.

I just want to note the name of the ship on which this cutting edge piece of technology is mounted. Am I mistaken, or is the laser mounted on the deck of what is effectively the "USS Idiot"?

Dalisclock:
While this is cool, I have to question the range on that. Yeah, it's cheaper then a missile, but a missile can fly for a hundred miles or more to a target.

Not to mention the need for better/larger power plants for better lasers. Yeah, it's cool, but right now the navy is seriously worried about keeping it's ships and aircraft from breaking, due to budgets being cut at the same time it's being asked to do more.

In my opinion its going to be purposed the same as the German static laser guns - defensive purposes. they may not be able to blow up enemy targets 100 kilometers away, however they sure as hell can blow up any incoming missiles thus leaving your ship... afloat.

Fast to aim, 100% precision and cheaper ammunition (especially in nuclear based warships). beats flack artillery any day.

ccggenius12:
I just want to note the name of the ship on which this cutting edge piece of technology is mounted. Am I mistaken, or is the laser mounted on the deck of what is effectively the "USS Idiot"?

I'm reading it as meaning
"a man given to ostentatious or effeminate display in manners, speech, dress, etc"
"another word for pimp"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ponce
Given the flashy technology I think calling the ship the USS Pimp seems about right

Xan Krieger:
I'm reading it as meaning
"a man given to ostentatious or effeminate display in manners, speech, dress, etc"
"another word for pimp"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ponce
Given the flashy technology I think calling the ship the USS Pimp seems about right

I guess I'd just heard it misused a lot. In that case, can I point out the irony in an invisible weapon being mounted on the USS Ostentatious? I feel like the weapon needs to take up roughly 3/4 of the ship, and fire rainbows.

ccggenius12:

Xan Krieger:
I'm reading it as meaning
"a man given to ostentatious or effeminate display in manners, speech, dress, etc"
"another word for pimp"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ponce
Given the flashy technology I think calling the ship the USS Pimp seems about right

I guess I'd just heard it misused a lot. In that case, can I point out the irony in an invisible weapon being mounted on the USS Ostentatious? I feel like the weapon needs to take up roughly 3/4 of the ship, and fire rainbows.

I looked at a few dictionary sites and it all said roughly the same meaning. That said there's nothing stopping us from putting a big prism on the front of the laser and killing the enemy in a way as beautiful as it is insane.

Xan Krieger:

ccggenius12:

Xan Krieger:
I'm reading it as meaning
"a man given to ostentatious or effeminate display in manners, speech, dress, etc"
"another word for pimp"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ponce
Given the flashy technology I think calling the ship the USS Pimp seems about right

I guess I'd just heard it misused a lot. In that case, can I point out the irony in an invisible weapon being mounted on the USS Ostentatious? I feel like the weapon needs to take up roughly 3/4 of the ship, and fire rainbows.

I looked at a few dictionary sites and it all said roughly the same meaning. That said there's nothing stopping us from putting a big prism on the front of the laser and killing the enemy in a way as beautiful as it is insane.

Only if it used the proper music.

image

EDIT: To keep my science cred up, they're probably not (read: 99% sure) using a white light. Lasers tend to be a narrow or single frequency of light, it wouldn't diffract into a rainbow.

Ok the laser is cool and all...
But then there is the revelation that the Navy is controlling it with a souped up xbox controller.
That is what surprised me. Us PC Gamer Master Race people should be up in arms.

Also, I would be impressed if they showed me a video of that thing working in the rain.
You'll be surprised how much military hardware stops working in the rain.

octafish:
The commander wants them alive. Set your weapons to dazzle.

Here's hoping Edgar Wright does end up being the man they call to direct the next Star Trek film. Because you just know he'll work that in there somehow.

My questions are this: What is the weapon's effective range and how long must it be focused on a target to destroy it? If it does not share the same range and kill potential as conventional munitions, this has been a colossal waste of time and resources.

Spartan448:
My questions are this: What is the weapon's effective range and how long must it be focused on a target to destroy it? If it does not share the same range and kill potential as conventional munitions, this has been a colossal waste of time and resources.

An accurate summary of the modern military in general.

crimson5pheonix:

Spartan448:
My questions are this: What is the weapon's effective range and how long must it be focused on a target to destroy it? If it does not share the same range and kill potential as conventional munitions, this has been a colossal waste of time and resources.

An accurate summary of the modern military in general.

Hey, this is the American military we're talking about here. And in the American military, there's a difference between a colossal waste of time and resources, and dropping all the bombs currently at base on one random dude in the middle of the desert with an RPG to see what the explosion would look like.

Man, I love the B-1.

Spartan448:
My questions are this: What is the weapon's effective range and how long must it be focused on a target to destroy it? If it does not share the same range and kill potential as conventional munitions, this has been a colossal waste of time and resources.

That's what the rail gun is for.

So you think you have escaped my grasp? Oh no my foolish friend. Power up the DOOM RAY!!!

This is pretty awesome, even if it was a little anticlimatic. But then again real lasers don't work the way they do in Star Wars where it behaves more like a projectile...Still, it's pretty sick :D

'Merica, fuck yeah!

Dalisclock:
While this is cool, I have to question the range on that. Yeah, it's cheaper then a missile, but a missile can fly for a hundred miles or more to a target.

Not to mention the need for better/larger power plants for better lasers. Yeah, it's cool, but right now the navy is seriously worried about keeping it's ships and aircraft from breaking, due to budgets being cut at the same time it's being asked to do more.

This Laser is being tested to hopefully replace Phalanx (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS) which has a range of less than 4KM and supplement the RIM-116 RAM missile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIM-116_Rolling_Airframe_Missile) which has a range of 9KM. This is a point defence weapon only it's the rail gun that with guided ammunition may be able to replace a number of missiles with a lower per shot cost due to a combination of no need for propellant and explosive.

Zhukov:
There's no visible "projectile".

It doesn't make a noise.

I want my money back.

I reckon it'd be brilliant on a stealth boat.

Jingle Fett:

This is pretty awesome, even if it was a little anticlimatic. But then again real lasers don't work the way they do in Star Wars where it behaves more like a projectile...Still, it's pretty sick :D

You are quite likely referring to the star wars 'blasters' rather than lasers.

'Blasters were a considerable improvement over the archaic laser design. Instead of a coherent beam of light, the blaster fired a compressed, focused, high-energy particle-beam that was very destructive, commonly referred to as a "bolt."' (Source: wookipedia)

Anyway, the implication is that many weapons in the star wars universe are plasma plasma based. There's even evidence that the light-saber could be a plasma sword of sorts.

Is a game controller really the most effective means of controlling these things? There must be some precision pointing device that's compatible with computers. If only I could think of one!

Fitting an incredibly deadly weapon to a bad-ass ship, populated by highly trained personnel.

Namer of that ship? Ponce.

Well played.

When it's set to 'dazzle', the ship looks like this:

On the other hand, when it's set to 'kill', it looks like this:

These weapons seem far less effective than conventional surface-to-suface and surface-to-air missile systems. Can't go past kinetic and chemical energy when you want to make sure things sink or disappear in a cloud of smoke. Not only that but you can lauch multiple missiles from a single battery, in rapid succession, against multiple targets, in multiple directions.

Flammablezeus:
Is a game controller really the most effective means of controlling these things? There must be some precision pointing device that's compatible with computers. If only I could think of one!

You can finally put those years of console gaming on your resume when you sign up to the Navy.

That being said, I don't see why they wouldn't be using a tablet-like device. You know ... highlight firing arcs for effective field suppression on beach heads, touch-based target acquisition. Instant zoom in & out. And, you know ... the fact that it's portable. Bit of a bonus I would think.

Dalisclock:
While this is cool, I have to question the range on that. Yeah, it's cheaper then a missile, but a missile can fly for a hundred miles or more to a target.

Not to mention the need for better/larger power plants for better lasers. Yeah, it's cool, but right now the navy is seriously worried about keeping it's ships and aircraft from breaking, due to budgets being cut at the same time it's being asked to do more.

Spartan448:
My questions are this: What is the weapon's effective range and how long must it be focused on a target to destroy it? If it does not share the same range and kill potential as conventional munitions, this has been a colossal waste of time and resources.

Modern naval air defences are layered. There are long range missiles that can hit targets up to 100 miles away, but those are carried on fleet air defence ships. Ships with other roles don't carry such long range missiles and the prue ASW ships only have missiles with 10 mile ranges. All ships now carry point defence guns with ranges of less than a mile. So its not a replacement for fleet air defence but a replacement for the point defences. Power isn't an issue, most warships ships are driven by combined diesel and gas turbine engines, they just run the diesel at higher rpms when needed. The damage is done in very short period of time. Its something like 50kw in 0.1 of second and at ranges of less than a mile.

Now we just have to pray that the enemy doesn't know about tactical mirror technology...

I doubt it is really as simple as turning your assets into disco balls in order to avoid lasers, but I just picture the mirror men from the Lightbringer series and laugh.

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