Feeds

Boeing: Raygun dreadnoughts will rule the oceans by 2019

Missiles, laser sharks simply nowhere

Application security programs and practises

US aerospace mammoth Boeing has made a bold announcement, saying that it will "transform naval warfare in the next decade" by developing powerful warship raygun turrets able to blast enemy missiles and aircraft out of the sky from afar.

The arms globocorp said yesterday that it has been awarded an initial $6.9m contract in a deal potentially worth as much as $169m, to develop a prototype Free Electron Laser (FEL) beam cannon.

Boeing say that this will provide an "ultra-precise, speed-of-light capability and unlimited magazine depth to defend ships against new, challenging threats, such as hyper-velocity cruise missiles", and that "FELs are capable of achieving the megawatt power the Navy requires for ship defense".

"It will be a cornerstone of the Navy's plan to incorporate directed energy systems into its future all-electric ship architecture," adds Boeing missile-buster veep Greg Hyslop.

This is impressive stuff. The existing, jumbo-jet mounted Airborne Laser - shortly to enter flight tests, though with its future now highly uncertain - is said to offer "megawatt class" power, and to be capable of exploding liquid-fuelled ICBMs from as far off as 400km. It runs on dangerous toxic chemicals, however, meaning that its magazine capacity is severely limited.

Boeing now say that they will produce a megawatt blaster cannon able to run on electricity (FELs work by passing electrons through magnetic fields). Thus, it would presumably be able to blast missiles or planes out to at least a hundred miles or so, as soon as they appeared above the horizon - the more so as FELs are tunable, better able to cope with spray, clouds and the like.

Even better, the US Navy plans its next generation of warships to use electric transmissions for their propellors, meaning that the whole mighty power of their engines could be used by electrical weapon systems on occasion (at the cost of briefly losing propulsion). The proposed Zumwalt class destroyers, for instance, would have up to 80 megawatts available - enough to run several FEL raygun turrets, even at the low efficiencies typical of directed energy weapons.

That sort of thing would indeed transform naval surface warfare, where at the moment aircraft and ship-killer missiles are king. If an enemy can get close enough to send a volley of supersonic sea-skimmers in over the horizon at your fleet (in other words, if you don't control the skies with airborne radar and fighters), then you're in trouble. You just have to pray that interceptor missiles will be able to achieve head-on kills at closing speeds in excess of Mach 5, within metres of the wave tops and within seconds of getting a radar lock on the sea-skimmers: a risky and very expensive proposition.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.