Feeds

US preps airborne laser weapon

Handy, fridge-sized fun

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Those clever chaps at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have apparently overcome the traditional impediment to a useful airborne laser weapon - it's so big you need an airliner to carry it.

The spawn of DARPA's High Energy Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) programme, on the other hand, come in a handy fridge-sized format, weighing in at just 750 kg (1,650 lb). Although the prototype - inevitably dubbed the "HEL weapon" by its chuckling developers - generates just one kilowatt, they're looking to ramp up the power to 150kW by the end of the year, and have an operational prototype in the air by 2007.

The DARPA secret behind the relatively diminuitive HEL is, according to New Scientist, to take the best of liquid lasers (continuous beam but plenty of cooling), and solid-state lasers (plenty of output but short bursts only to prevent meltdown).

DARPA explains:

The Air Laser program will investigate the potential for a high energy laser (HEL) concept based on direct diode pumping of liquid oxygen. If successful, the Air Laser could provide a safe, efficient kilowatt-class HEL which combines the advantages of chemical and solid state lasers and minimizes the disadvantages: it operates in the eye-safe wavelength regime; it uses liquid air as the gain medium and as the diode array coolant, resulting in the reduction or elimination of a separate thermal control system; the use of efficient, high energy density diode pump sources, results in a compact device much smaller than either chemical or solid state lasers; and its pulse length is variable from continuous to sub-picosecond, allowing flexibility in weapons effects.

And if you like the sound of the HEL weapon, try DARPA's MAgneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition, or as the highly inventive DARPA acronyms department has it, MAHEM. Boom boom!:

The MAgnetoHydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM) program will demonstrate compressed magnetic flux generator (CMFG)-driven magnetohydrodynamically formed metal jets and self forging penetrators with significantly improved performance over explosively formed jets and fragments. Explosively formed jets (EFJ) and self forging penetrators (SFP) are used for precision strike against targets such as armored vehicles and reinforced structures. Current technology uses chemical explosive energy to form the jets and fragments.

Nice one. We look forward to seeing both HEL and MAHEM let loose in Iraq in the near future. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.