Feeds

Deal inked in US Navy 'R2-D2' raygun robo-turret plan

Boat-blaster also wearable by (frigate-sized) sharks

Build a business case: developing custom apps

One of the most critical questions in the world of seagoing death-ray technology today - that is, who would be selected to develop swivelling "R2-D2" robotic laser blaster gun turrets for US Navy warships - has now been answered. American weaponry megacorp Northrop Grumman, makers of the first electric solid-state "battle strength" raygun module, have scooped a $98m deal from the Office of Naval Research.

Under the deal, announced this week, Northrop will provide a demonstrator Maritime Laser system capable of being fitted to US warships of frigate size and up. In no more than 18 months, according to the deal, there will be "a real-time, 'at sea' dynamic demonstration showing a counter-material capability against small boats".

The ONR has previously said that raygun makers seeking to supply the Maritime Laser are highly encouraged to use existing gun mounts suitable for the task, such as that of the Phalanx radar-controlled gatling autocannon - nicknamed "R2-D2" among US sailors.

The Phalanx is sufficiently quick and accurate that it can blast incoming missiles and aircraft from the sky, let alone comparatively slow-moving small boats from the water. Such boats, attacking in swarms, are generally considered a likelier naval threat than shipkiller missiles, but even so it isn't immediately clear what a laser turret really brings to the party at sea.

Phalanxes are also nowadays used ashore on occasion, however, blasting rockets and mortars lobbed over the perimeter fences of US and allied bases by local insurgents. Special ammo with a time delay self-destruct fuse is used so as to avoid peppering the entire neighbourhood with 20mm cannon shells, but even so dangerous shrapnel and duds get scattered about fairly freely.

A laser would have no such problem, so a raygun Phalanx might indeed be useful if Northrop and the ONR can develop one. And there would be some lesser advantages at sea, too; a laser Phalanx wouldn't run out of ammo, and wouldn't use up space in the ship's magazines.

Current warships would seem well able to provide enough electricity for laser Phalanxes. FFG 7 Oliver Hazard Perry (OHP) class frigates, the smallest ships specified by the ONR, carry a single Phalanx. Northrop say their electric war-lasers are about 20 per cent efficient, so a 100 kilowatt battle-strength beam would tie up half a megawatt of generating capability. OHPs carry four 1-megawatt generators, so they should normally be able to supply enough juice.

Regrettably for those interested mainly in the related field of shark-portable energy weaponry for use in the disposal of meddling government agents, incompetent or traitorous henchmen etc, the technology isn't yet sufficiently mature for employment by normal sized lair-dwelling piscine enforcement operatives. There would in any case be significant risk of a distressing explosive mishap in the event of a poorly-trained or excitable pool shark inadvertently triggering its raygun with its head underwater.

Supervillains with genetic-engineering expertise among their henchmen or captives might opt for a gigantic mutated shark able to carry the necessary machinery, but this could necessitate costly lair and execution-pool enlargement. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.