Feeds

US preps airborne laser weapon

Handy, fridge-sized fun

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.