Feeds

US energy-weapon project going well

Raygun only inflicts 2x as much harm on self as on enemy

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A US military tech project aimed at developing portable, functional battlefield energy weapons has successfully achieved initial goals and is now moving on towards "weapons-class performance levels".

The project in question is the optimistically-named Revolution In Fiber Lasers (RIFL), ultimately intended to deliver war-grade 100 kilowatt beams from equipment weighing less than 5kg per kilowatt.

US weaponry behemoth Northrop Grumman was awarded a Phase I RIFL development contract in 2008. Yesterday the firm announced that it had achieved complete success in the Phase I goals and has duly been awarded a new Phase II deal.

"This is an important step in the maturation of fiber laser technology," said Dan Wildt, Northrop rayguns-department honcho. "By surpassing Phase I goals, we are in an excellent position for success in Phase II. Success in Phase II will create a powerful springboard for scaling fiber lasers to weapons-class performance levels."

Under RIFL Phase I, the firm claims to have bumped efficiency to 30 per cent, a noticeable boost from previous kit which had only been able to put 20 per cent of its input power into the actual beam. These low efficiencies don't just mean a need for a bigger and heavier power supply: they also mean that current energy weapons actually deliver more striking power onto themselves in the form of waste heat than they do onto the target. Getting rid of this heat safely is a major technical issue, and the necessary equipment is a significant part of a raygun installation.

Quite apart from getting a biggish chunk of heat out of the gun and down the beam, Northrop claims that its Phase I RIFL module also offers "polarization extinction ratio of 50:1, and extremely low phase noise, which is essential for the coherent combination of laser chains used to scale power to weapons-class levels".

Under Phase II, the company will look to develop a new and yet-badder RIFL, tripling the power of a single module to 3kW and moving towards combination of such modules so as to produce a 100kW war-grade ray.

Just the laser gear for this would weigh at least half a tonne, however, not to mention the associated 400-horsepower generator, beam control, heatsink unit etc. We're looking here more at a large tank- or warship-sized job than a laser RIFLe as such.

Laser combat vehicles, ships or aircraft could change warfare significantly by picking flying missiles and artillery shells out of the air at light speed.

For more colourful applications in the field of home supervillainry - for instance the slicing up of tiresome government operatives and/or their saucy female sidekicks while fastened down on a table, hatmounted hench-shark directed energy accoutrements, etc - the Reg's apparently large readership of evil billionaires may have to wait a while. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.