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Boeing: Raygun dreadnoughts will rule the oceans by 2019

Missiles, laser sharks simply nowhere

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We're looking at some sort of shark/electric-eel crossbreed here, obviously

But if you had a raygun Zumwalt, things would be very different. Enemies wouldn't dare poke their heads over the horizon inside a hundred miles. They'd have serious trouble getting their sea-skimmers into striking range, and if they manage it, no matter. As soon as a supersonic ship-killer pops up on radar - say twenty miles and thirty seconds out - a megawatt beam will fry it out of existence.

Goodbye sea-skimmers: perhaps even goodbye aircraft carriers. The preferred means of reaching over the horizon from ships might rather become the use of hypersonic solid shot from electric railguns, perhaps - far more able to penetrate laser defences than thin-skinned missiles packed full of explosive fuel and warhead, and significantly faster too.

The surface warship would be restored to its lost dominance over the oceans, in fact - within ten years from now! You can see why this is an easy sell to large parts of the US Navy.

But. Even Boeing admit that they've been fooling about with FELs for decades without really getting anywhere - let alone up to megawatt power. There's worrying talk of the new FEL being used for "non-lethal effects", too, which in this context translates as "it won't have anything even close to megawatt power, but you could use it for scaring pirates in skiffs, or making tea or something".

Also the Zumwalt class has lately been deferred - very likely cancelled altogether, in favour of more ordinary Arleigh Burke missile ships.

So no, actually. We almost certainly won't see command of the seas enforced by raygun battlewagons in a 2019 timescale. This is, pretty much for sure, just corporate puffery by Boeing - if of an interesting sort. ®

Bootnote

We almost forgot to mention the obvious FEL cranial-mount application for sharks. The great problem here, apart from likely weight and waterproofing issues with the laser itself, is of course the lack of any serious electrical supplies onboard the average shark. Megawatt range (several thousand horsepower) snorkel diesels would presumably be OK, as the shark would only be able to use its laser with its head out of the water anyway. One has to say, though, that this system would really be more like a raygun U-boat with a largely gratuitous shark attached.

Perhaps some kind of genetically-modified mutant shark/electric eel crossbreed abomination, with in-body megawatt electrocyte banks, might be in order.

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