Feeds

Aerial laser gunboat 'burns hole in fender' of moving car

World's evil shark-owning billionaires unimpressed

Application security programs and practises

The Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) ray-cannon, mounted in a specially-equipped Hercules transport plane flying above New Mexico, has now succeeded in "putting a hole in the fender" of a ground vehicle driving along beneath it.

The not particularly awesome result was announced by Boeing, maker of the ATL, yesterday.

"In this test, a directed energy weapon successfully demonstrated direct attack on a moving target," said Gary Fitzmire, Boeing raygun veep. Though that is nothing new; Boeing's Humvee-mounted "Laser Avenger" ray-turret shot down a small flying robot earlier this year.

Undaunted, Fitzmire goes on to say that "ATL has now precisely targeted and engaged both stationary and moving targets, demonstrating the transformational versatility of this speed-of-light, ultra-precision engagement capability that will dramatically reduce collateral damage".

Indeed, the ATL seems to reduce not just collateral damage but damage inflicted on the actual desired target, too. Generally a Hercules equipped to conduct ground attack - in the form of the popular AC-130 "Spectre"/"Spooky" gunships - bristles with a broadside of devastating firepower including 105mm artillery pieces, 120mm heavy mortars, 40mm cannon etc.

By contrast the ATL - also dubbed the "Laser Gunship" by Boeing - offers a single 20-tonne weapon system capable of a limited number of "shots", perhaps as few as six. The six-tonne chemical laser must be refuelled with dangerous toxic fuels once it is empty, a procedure much more logistically troublesome than loading regular ammo aboard an AC-130.

The actual effect of the laser appears to be distinctly limited, too, as the vid above of an earlier trial against a stationary vehicle indicates. Boeing's talk of "putting a hole in a fender" of a moving (unmanned) ground vehicle is equally unimpressive. And one notes that the firm, in yesterday's announcement, walked back slightly on its earlier claim that the ATL had "defeated" a stationary ground vehicle in a previous test - now Boeing only says that vehicle was "damaged".

The option of using the raygun plane as a silent, undetectable, unattributable sniper would seem to remain - it could perhaps strike from as far off as 20km, beyond audible and even perhaps visual detection. No telltale bullet or projectile would remain at the scene. But this seems a pretty marginal capability given the expense and logistic burden. The secret supertroopers of the US Special Operations Command - the operators of the existing AC-130 fleet - would seem likely to stay with their current equipment.

The news will doubtless have a depressing effect in evil billionaire circles. It would seem that the day of the cranially mounted, shark-portable, waterproof pool menagerie above-water combat augmentation system remains as far off as ever. ®

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.