Feeds

US Army moves rocket-buster raygun from lab to firing range

At last: Sharks Whales with frikkin lazors on their heads

A new approach to endpoint data protection

The US Army says it's time to move battle rayguns out of the lab and onto the firing range: and it is doing so. According to the Space and Missile Defence Command, a prototype electrically powered war-blaster which has shown combat-worthy power levels of 100+ kilowatts is even now being set up on a test range in New Mexico.

The energy cannon in question is the Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) system from Northrop Grumman, which beat 100kW last March. It's now to be moved from Northrop's Californian labs to the White Sands Missile Range, which is also an "approved above-the-horizon high energy laser test range".

"Northrop proved that a laser powered by electricity could generate a beam powerful enough to destroy targets in the battlefield," said Dr Brian Strickland, Army JHPSSL chief. "With this major hurdle overcome, the next step is to take the laser from the laboratory to the field and begin shooting down missiles with it."

The US Army boffins plan to link the Northrop electro-laser to "an existing beam director" which they have lying about to form an actual functioning raygun, dubbed the Solid State Laser Testbed Experiment (SSLTE).

According to the Space and Missile Defence Command:

A 100kW laser can rapidly heat a target causing various catastrophic effects, such as exploding a warhead or airframe failure... a 100kW class solid-state laser will be capable of protecting the warfighter against rockets, artillery, mortars and unmanned aerial systems.

In other words the soldiers expect the weapons which will follow the SSLTE prototype to zap incoming artillery shells, mortar bombs, bombardment rockets and cruise missiles/drones out of the sky.

This can already be done with automated radar-aimed rapid fire cannon, of course, but there are disadvantages to such an approach. Even where the cannon shells are fitted with self-destruct fuzes - as is normal in landbased operations - the autoguns tend to scatter a fair number of high-velocity duds about the surrounding area, making it hard to get along with local residents. It's also more convenient to supply generator fuel than specialised cannon ammo in large quantities.

But enough of that jibber jabber. The typical Reg reader has no need to defend a compound or convoy from hostile rocketeers in a far-flung warzone: rather, he or she is principally interested in cranially-mounted directed energy options for his or her execution pool menagerie.

Regrettably the day when even a large, sturdy shark will be be able to vaporise meddlesome government operatives or surplus bikini-clad female captives from a distance seems still to be far off. Just the JHPSSL on its own weighs over a tonne, and then there's the beam director and a 700+ horsepower generator (the laser is only 20 per cent efficient).

The entire system could be carried by a team of several elephants, but even a great white shark would struggle with it. Perhaps some kind of ill-tempered, mutated albino whale might be in order. ®

Bootnote

For those struggling to keep track of all the rayguns, the JHPSSL is no relation to the large, chemically fuelled flying ones carried in a jumbo jet (ABL/ALTB) or C-130 transport plane (ATL). These were conceived respectively as ICBM-blaster and silent spontaneous-combustion sky sniper respectively. Their need for frequent topups of toxic, explosive, corrosive fuels rules them out for ordinary battlefield use.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?