Feeds

Raygun jumbo: 'Long duration' ground blasts begin

'We had to turn it off, the power meter was melting'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Energy weapon maker Northrop Grumman has announced further successful ground tests for the mighty laser cannon installed in America's prototype nuke-blasting jumbo jet.

Northrop says that "multiple long-duration, lethal" blasts were fired in ground tests last week, allowing engineers to "tune" the mighty megawatt-range energy gun and tweak its chemical fuel mix. The firm says that the settings will now be left in place for further trials, including the actual shootdown of a real ICBM set for later this year.

It seems that in this case a "long-duration" blast is one lasting three seconds or so. However, company energy-cannon chief Dan Wildt said the laser could easily have kept blazing for longer, but this would have destroyed or melted the ground test equipment.

According to Northrop, these latest tests saw the death ray coming straight out of the laser into measuring gear. The next step will be similar firings, but this time with the combat-intensity beam passing through the fire-control systems and coming out of the jumbo's distinctive swivelling nose turret into a "range simulator".

That's supposed to take place "in the next few weeks, clearing the [laser plane] to begin weapon system flight tests".

The culmination of the flight test programme will be an attempt to blow up an actual ballistic missile as it boosts upward from its launch pad, the mission the blaster-jumbo is designed for. Northrop, along with partners Boeing and Lockheed, believe this will take place before next year.

The laser aircraft is being developed by the US military's Missile Defense Agency, which envisions a fleet of blaster-jumbos able to mount standing patrols off the coast of North Korea and vape hostile nuclear ICBMs as soon as they lift off - should North Korea develop a working ICBM*. The likelihood of this plan ever reaching fruition - regardless of how successful this year's tests might be - is thought to have dipped significantly following the US election result. ®

Bootnote

*North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile is assessed as being capable of reaching the United States. However when it was test-fired in 2006 it blew up 40 seconds off the pad.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
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
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.