Nuke-nobbling US laser jumbo fires test beams
First ray-play day for ICBM sky fry guys
America's famous nuke-toasting aerial ray cannon jumbo jet has at last fired its first energy beams in ground testing, according to prime contractor Boeing. The Airborne Laser (ABL) system is now complete, and testing will progress to a live intercept against a ballistic missile in 2009.
Does coherent light = coherent plans?
"The achievement of 'first light' onboard the Airborne Laser aircraft is a key milestone for the ABL team," said Scott Fancher, Boeing veep i/c missile-nobbling and face of the raygun jumbo project.
"The team did an extraordinary job preparing ABL for this important test. The program remains on track to reach the missile shoot-down demonstration planned."
The idea of the ABL is that fleets of such aircraft might one day patrol the skies, hundreds of kilometres from enemy missile silos in rogue states - off the coast of North Korea, for example, at some point when North Korea had acquired functional intercontinental rockets. Should the evil dictator or whoever decide to rain destruction on the USA (or perhaps its chums), vigilant laser-jumbos would ray the missiles vigorously as they lifted from their pads, still full of volatile, explosive fuels. This would cause them to explode before their payloads could leave the atmosphere (and perhaps separate into multiple warheads, decoys etc in troublesome style).
Nonetheless, the ABL has its critics. The monster ray cannon uses older chemical laser technology, and needs large amounts of dangerous high-pressure fuels. It also has to contain its equally hazardous and corrosive exhaust products. This means that the proposed ABL fleet's logistic requirements would be exotic and troublesome.
Furthermore, in order to hit missiles in their vulnerable boost phase, the planes would need to fly within a few hundred km of the launch sites. This means that many possible launch locations would be out of reach, unless the ABLs intruded on enemy airspace - perhaps precipitating the very attack they seek to prevent.
Still, Boeing are bullish, seeing "first light" as proof that the prototype ABL is now fully assembled. However, the testing process will be a long one. In fact, no beam has yet even left the aircraft: the "first light" was actually shone into an onboard calorimeter and didn't pass through the ABL's distinctive swivelling nose turret.
But the turret and beam-control system has already seen flight tests using a pointing laser before the installation of the main cannon last year. Thus Boeing are happy that it will work as expected, and remain firm that they will blast a for-real ICBM the year after next. Assuming success at that point, the programme will halt for a time, while the Washington corporately makes up its mind about buying further aircraft. ®
vulnerable boost phase
So this thing hangs around waiting for those few seconds to hit a target, but how does it know the target is an enemy ICBM heading for the USA rather than a test rocket, satellite carrying rocket etc etc all in those few seconds? Ok, so "scheduled" rocket launches are probably known but what's to stop the bad guy telling fibs about an ICBM and pretending they are launching a new sky tv?
@graham you crack me up , but Google/Yahoo is your friend as it will show for every style of weapon there exists a number of counter measures , also it seems you appear not to have heard of or overlooked the low flying subsonic cruise missile armed with the small light weight versatile variable five to twenty kiloton warheads which would flash crisp any airbase on land within range period before they knew what hit them and can be launched from any submarine equipped with the twenty four inch long lance sized torpedo tubes .
Interestingly around the early seventies when the Americans chose to activate then deactivate their ABM system one day later based on then modern Martin Marietta Sprint Missile system armed with nuclear warheads(self blinding ABM defense system is an interesting concept in itself) and a large Billboard Phase Array radar aerial system, the US based Scientific American published a very interesting study paper about the effects of various types of deliberate upper atmospheric nuclear detonations on all electromagnetic radiation based detection systems based on extrapolated data derived from these tests conducted in the late fifties and early sixties and information obtained from various very large Hydrogen bomb ground tests as well . Since that day the level of very sensitive easy to kill micro electronics use in every day life has increased one billion fold .
I think Joshua got that one right in 1986 the only way to win this game is not to play as everything else is flash fried crispy earth on all continental land masses north and south of the equator thanks to M.A.D. .
"...for less than the US spends on the military, they could eradicate poverty worldwide."
Let's see... the defense budget is roughly $500b, give or take. Let's assume that there are 6b people in the world, and that 40% of them are impoverished. Given that wealth is distributed in an extremely lopsided way, that's probably roughly there.
So, let's divide that out, and we have $500b dollars distributed to 2.4b people. That gives each impoverished person the wholloping total of two hundred smackers. Which is about 130 euros.
If you think that's going to 'eradicate' poverty, feel free to continue in your delusion. The rest of us will be waiting out here in the real world when you decide to emerge.
And as far as fostering good will among the people of the world, there are certainly scenarios where that could help, but our most dangerous enemies are the ones who don't take bribes - flinging money at nutball dictatorships like North Korea or Iran isn't going to suddenly make them love us. "OK, Iran - we know that you despise our way of life, think that Jews drink blood for passover, and would rather face your own glass-parking-lot demise than admit your false bluster, but how about we buy everybody a twelve pack of brewskis and two pairs of Levis, and we'll call it even?"
Nope, don't think so.