Feeds

Russia's Cold War raygun air fleet back in operation - reports

Monster laser-planes ready to blind US satellites?

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Reports suggest that Russia has re-started work on a Cold War project intended to produce a laser cannon mounted on an enormous military transport aircraft in the style of the USA's Airborne Laser Testbed 747.

The Beriev A-60 laser aircraft in flight

Ha ha, imperialists - it is not only you who can build expensive crazy rayguns in giant aeroplanes!

Erratic Muscovite journal Pravda reports the development, saying that the Russian military raygun programme was started in 1980 but then mothballed in the '90s when funds became tight. Now, however, it is said to have been restarted.

Though Pravda doesn't specify the name of the programme, it does state that the weapon system is carried aboard a modified Ilyushin-76 heavy transport: this suggests that the report refers to the Beriev A-60 programme of the 1980s and 90s. The A-60 supposedly mounted a one-megawatt gas laser.

Normally a Pravda report wouldn't carry much weight, but photos apparently taken earlier this year seem to show that at least one A-60 is flying again after 15 years in mothballs. There was also an Interfax report to the same effect earlier last month.

Pravda seems unsure whether the reanimated A-60 is intended primarily for blinding long-range enemy sensors - for instance those on satellites or reconnaissance aircraft - or for use along the same lines as the USA's formerly planned Airborne Laser (ABL) fleet. The ABL was intended to cruise near hostile missile fields and beam enemy ICBMs out of existence during their boost phase, as they rocketed up through the atmosphere full of explosive fuel.

That might have been practical in the case of US laser-jumbos patrolling off the North Korean coast, but even the US air force might struggle to protect ABLs on station within range of Iranian silos - far less those of Russia. In any event, the Obama administration has decided it doesn't want an ABL fleet and has downgraded the project into a research effort - hence the prototype raygun-jumbo is now known as the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB). It is thought to pack multi-megawatt punch, several times more powerful than the A-60s.

Similar criticisms on usefulness would apply to any nuke-nobbling use of Russia's renascent rayguncraft.

"You must understand that we will have to deliver this laser through the airspace of the United States," Russian defence journo Igor Korotchenko tells Pravda.

"Clearly, all our aircrafts will be shot down.”

It seems relatively unlikely that the Russian military has actually revived the A-60 for the purpose of swatting down boosting US missiles - the idea that it might instead blind satellites or spy planes is much more credible. Particularly in the case of satellites, having the laser high above most of the atmosphere would make it much more effective.

Pravda also hints at the possibility that the A-60 is flying again to enable Russian ICBM designers to harden their rockets against laser weapons: though if so they would seem to be wasting their time, given that the US has decided not to deploy such things. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Dragon capsule arrives at space station for Easter Sunday delivery
SpaceX reports Falcon booster made controlled touchdown in ocean
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.