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Navy Laser Destroys UAV Over Water

bobbymike

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From Aerospace and Defense News

Navy Laser Destroys UAV in a Maritime Environment
Published on ASDNews: May 31, 2010
(Washington, May 29, 2010) -- Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), with support from Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren, for the second time successfully tracked, engaged, and destroyed a threat representative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) while in flight May 24 at San Nicholas Island, Calif.

This marks the first detect-thru-engage laser shoot-down of a threat representative target in an over-the-water, combat representative scenario.

A total of two UAV targets were engaged and destroyed in a maritime environment during the testing, the second series of successes for the U.S. Navy's Laser Weapon System (LaWS) Program.

Members of NAVSEA's Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems (DE&EWS) Program Office (PMS 405), Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS), Raytheon Missile Systems, and NSWC Dahlgren fired a laser through a beam director on a KINETO Tracking Mount, controlled by a MK 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS). This brings to a total of seven UAVs destroyed by the Surface Navy's first tactical development for fielding a Directed Energy weapon system.

"The success of this effort validates the military utility of DE&EWS in a maritime environment," said Program Manager Capt. David Kiel. "Further development and integration of increasingly more powerful lasers into Surface Navy LaWS will increase both the engagement range and target sets that can be successfully engaged and destroyed."

NAVSEA's DE&EWS Program Office is responsible for managing the research, development, integration, and acquisition initiation of DE&EWS for the Navy's surface forces. PEO IWS 3BC is the Program Office responsible for all aspects of the CIWS Program with Raytheon serving as the Navy's prime contractor for CIWS. NSWC Dahlgren, as the LaWS Technical Direction Agent, focuses on the technology development and test and evaluation for directed energy.

DE&EWS is transitioning technology from the laboratory to prototype system development/test for operational development and use. One of the multiple 'game changing' technologies under development includes laser weapons that provide for speed-of-light engagements at tactically significant ranges with cost savings realized by minimizing the use of defensive missiles and projectiles.

Source : US Navy
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IMHO speed of light weaponry is the future. You want to be able to target hypersonic weapons you need DEW. It truly is a game changer. Just think, because over relevant engagement distances, time to impact is basically instantaneous. That is why (do not ever do this if course) a person (a stupid person) standing on the ground can shine a laser into the cockpit of a airliner using their eyeball as a targeting system.
 

ouroboros

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If I remember correctly, this is an electrically driven weapon, so has the possibility of being retrofitted onto existing Phalanx equipped ships that possess sufficient electrical power. This also being yet another driver for all electric ships. Of course, there is the attractive option, depending on approach vector, to have multiple Phalanx's cooking a seaskimmer so individual target destruction times drop. Though you could help with that by having a smaller orbiting surveillance UAV with a good radar rig and data link (gyrocopter, helicopter, or tiltrotor?).


Considering the power consumption of all electric ships and electric weapons systems, fuel starts to put a dent in both range and power projection. If railguns are employed, you have additional limitations on effective offensive capability. I wonder if there will be renewed interest from the Navy and DoD on small modular nuclear reactors, the end goal being to put a single small reactor on smaller surface combatants? There are practical limits on how many gas turbines you can squeeze into a ship, and their fuel efficiency is not so hot.


I also wonder when we will see the introduction of anti-laser options for missiles, if this and the JSF laser weapon come online? Ablative skin coatings and a BBQ roll program in the guidance system is a cheap solution. More advanced options could be something like an an airborne Shkival torpedo, using a nose plasma emitter to coat the missile. A real edge case being coating the surfaces with some sort of metamaterial to make it effectively invisible at the laser frequency.
 

bobbymike

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More news from Spacewar.com"

Maritime Laser System Shows Higher Lethality At Longer Ranges

Illustration of the US Maritime Laser Demonstration system in combat.
by Staff Writers
Dahlgren VA (SPX) Oct 01, 2010
Tests of the U.S. Navy's Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) system conducted recently at the Potomac River Test Range confirmed the laser weapon system's readiness to proceed with at-sea testing later this year, according to Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Operating from a fixed site on land, the MLD weapon system fired a laser beam at a number of stationary targets, including representative small boat sections, across the Potomac River, company executives said. The laser burned through small boat sections in these tests, conducted in late August and early September.

"We have shown that the Maritime Laser Demonstrator's design is as lethal at longer ranges as other previously demonstrated approaches," said Steve Hixson, vice president of Advanced Concepts, Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

"We have optimized the Maritime Laser Demonstrator's design to make it much more lethal at longer ranges while using less laser power than other approaches.

"This means we can defeat threats at longer ranges using less electric power from a ship and with a smaller, more affordable weapon," Hixson noted.

"This successful test series, coupled with the successful shore tracking tests earlier this year, give us confidence that we will be successful at the at sea demonstrator scheduled later this year."

According to Hixson, the MLD laser weapon is based on mature technologies developed through several Defense Department programs, such as the precision tracking system from the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL), which destroyed some 46 rockets, artillery and mortars in flight.

The MLD laser weapon also features the high-brightness, solid-state laser technology from the Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program, which was provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office, Arlington, Va., and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, Huntsville, Ala. Northrop Grumman was the prime contractor for THEL and JHPSSL.

Northrop Grumman is developing MLD for the Office of Naval Research with a goal of demonstrating the readiness of solid-state laser weapon systems to begin transition to the fleet to engage targets that challenge current defensive systems such as swarms of enemy fast patrol boats.

The "static land" tests were conducted at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Dahlgren, Va., Division, where it operates the Potomac River Test Range, the nation's largest, fully-instrumented, over-the-water firing range. Such tests in marine or coastal conditions are essential because weapon systems and sensors function differently over water than over land.

"Unlike commercial lasers that form the core of some laser systems intended for use at sea, MLD's power levels can be scaled to 100 kilowatts and beyond to defend ships from a wider variety of threats," according to Dan Wildt, vice president, Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman. MLD is a multiple kilowatt, high-energy system for the purposes of the current demonstration phase.

"Another advantage of our approach is a modular architecture system that makes upgrades easy as subsystem technology advances. This allows MLD to use any laser," Wildt added. "Competing approaches are performance-limited by their use of gun-mounted beam directors, commercial lasers and less accurate tracking systems."
 

Abraham Gubler

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Fortunately for ASM makers nature has developed a countermeasure to maritime lasers. The sea storm:

 

Colonial-Marine

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And unfortunately for said AShM makers, Standard Missiles (or their successor) and more conventional CIWS systems won't be going away either.
 

Sea Skimmer

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Abraham Gubler said:
Fortunately for ASM makers nature has developed a countermeasure to maritime lasers. The sea storm:

Storms also block the X-band radar and infrared sensors used to guide anti ship missiles in the first place, and wave height forces the missiles to fly higher giving more time for AEGIS to kill them first. The biggest use for the laser is doing exactly what we see it doing in the video, shooting down cheap drones an enemy might be able to send by the hundreds overwhelming normal defenses. Cheap drones will be too slow and poorly controlled to work in storms.
 

bobbymike

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Navy Laser sets ship on fire video from Wired Blog Danger Room:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/04/video-navy-laser-sets-ship-on-fire/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WiredDangerRoom+(Blog+-+Danger+Room)&utm_content=Google+Reader

Correct me if I am wrong but pretty impressive from a mile away. It seems to "start" to damage the engine as quickly as if you are standing next to it with a blow torch?

Also, sorry to be morbid but I couldn't help but imagine that if someone was driving that boat on a suicide bombing mission to ram the US Navy boat what damage the laser might do to the boat drivers head :eek:
 

Dragon029

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I was actually imagining that exact same thing, although perhaps I had that part of your post without comprehending it :-X

It'd be interesting whether these systems will be one day used against pirates (heh, lasers and pirates, not a combination that generally belongs in the real world, perhaps the USN should change the SEAL's title to NINJA's and then we could have a party).
 

bobbymike

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Dragon029 said:
I was actually imagining that exact same thing, although perhaps I had that part of your post without comprehending it :-X

It'd be interesting whether these systems will be one day used against pirates (heh, lasers and pirates, not a combination that generally belongs in the real world, perhaps the USN should change the SEAL's title to NINJA's and then we could have a party).

Although the "Shores of Tripoli" part of the Marine Corp Hymn is when they were fighting the Barbary Pirates so we can just send in the Marines......... again (history repeats itself 200 + years later) :D
 

Nik

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"if someone was driving that boat on a suicide bombing mission"

I think they'd wear a welding mask...
 

bobbymike

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Nik said:
"if someone was driving that boat on a suicide bombing mission"

I think they'd wear a welding mask...

And that would stop the metal or plastic shielding from melting to their face or aim lower and their clothes being lit on fire? Watching the video I don't think a suit of armor would help. If it did you would just look for the guys with welding masks and suits of armor and use the Phalanx instead ;)
 

Avimimus

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Sea Skimmer said:
Abraham Gubler said:
Fortunately for ASM makers nature has developed a countermeasure to maritime lasers. The sea storm:

Storms also block the X-band radar and infrared sensors used to guide anti ship missiles in the first place, and wave height forces the missiles to fly higher giving more time for AEGIS to kill them first. The biggest use for the laser is doing exactly what we see it doing in the video, shooting down cheap drones an enemy might be able to send by the hundreds overwhelming normal defenses. Cheap drones will be too slow and poorly controlled to work in storms.

This is getting speculative - what about nuclear powered ships? One might think that the excess of power (combined with sea water for radiators using evaporative cooling and switching current between transmitters), they could make for large and powerful defensive ships. Does anyone know of any studies for such ships? What are their maximum capabilities?

Abraham, it is interesting to think how this would effect the tactical situation - with laser equipped fleets maneuvering to avoid contact outside of good weather. It also makes me think of what type of weapons would be most effective in storms (smaller ballistic missiles which deploy torpedoes/mines near the enemy fleet?)
 

Madurai

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Avimimus said:
This is getting speculative - what about nuclear powered ships? One might think that the excess of power (combined with sea water for radiators using evaporative cooling and switching current between transmitters), they could make for large and powerful defensive ships. Does anyone know of any studies for such ships? What are their maximum capabilities?

Nuclear-powered ships--existing ones, anyway--do not produce any more electrical power than conventionally-powered ones. All the turbine generators operating at full output represent a minor steam load compared to the propulsion turbines.

If electrically-powered weapons (DEW or railguns) are ready for prime time soon, we'll no doubt see a ship designed around a vastly-increased output; but the prime mover turning the generators to produce that power might well be gas turbines or diesels.
 

bobbymike

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Madurai said:
Avimimus said:
This is getting speculative - what about nuclear powered ships? One might think that the excess of power (combined with sea water for radiators using evaporative cooling and switching current between transmitters), they could make for large and powerful defensive ships. Does anyone know of any studies for such ships? What are their maximum capabilities?

Nuclear-powered ships--existing ones, anyway--do not produce any more electrical power than conventionally-powered ones. All the turbine generators operating at full output represent a minor steam load compared to the propulsion turbines.

If electrically-powered weapons (DEW or railguns) are ready for prime time soon, we'll no doubt see a ship designed around a vastly-increased output; but the prime mover turning the generators to produce that power might well be gas turbines or diesels.

I don't have the figures handy but I remember reading CG(X) and DD(X) were to have MASSIVE energy surpluses in the tens of megawatts combined with high storage capacitors in order to power DEW and railgun weaponry.
 

pathology_doc

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First wave of seaskimmers is sacrificial, when it cooks off the warhead explodes and deploys smoke designed to diffuse laser energy.

Second wave comes through the smoke. Not enough time to engage.

If I were a designer, I'd be keeping kinetic weapons for the foreseeable future.
 

Grey Havoc

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In related news, acquired (ahem!) from MilitaryPhotos.net:

General Atomics Awarded Contract for Hellads Weapon System Demonstrator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jul 19, 2011

GA-ASI Awarded Contract for Hellads Weapon System Demonstrator

High-Power Laser Weapon Ultimately to be Incorporated into Tactical Aircraft


SAN DIEGO – 19 July 2011 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, today announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded the company a contract for development of the complete Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) for the agency’s High Energy Liquid Laser Defense System (HELLADS) program. The contract award follows the successful development and test of the company’s HELLADS weapon class unit cell under a previous contract.

“In 2001, GA-ASI pioneered a new concept for electrically-pumped, high energy lasers, and under DARPA sponsorship this technology has developed into a promising new weapon class capable of being deployed on a wide variety of land, sea, and airborne tactical platforms,” said Dr. Michael Perry, vice president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “Under this new contract, we will produce a 150-kilowatt HELLADS weapon system that will be demonstrated against a variety of military targets.”

The HELLADS laser concept employs an innovative new approach to electric lasers which combines the high storage density of solid-state with the efficient heat removal of flowing liquids.

The HELLADS program seeks to demonstrate a 150-kilowatt laser weapon that weighs less than 2,000 pounds and could be mounted to military platforms as small as patrol ships, fighter and surveillance aircraft, armored combat vehicles, and perhaps even UAS.

In addition to the laser itself, GA-ASI completed prototype power and heat removal systems last year, confirming that the supporting technologies are in place for a complete weapon system.

This latest contract award represents phase four of the HELLADS program. The DLWS will include a 150-kilowatt laser with integrated power and thermal management systems to provide a compact laser weapon system. Live fire exercises against a variety of targets are planned with the DLWS throughout 2013 at the White Sands Missile Range in south central New Mexico. Current U.S. military plans call for integration of the laser onto a B-1B aircraft following the completion of ground testing at White Sands.


http://www.ga-asi.com/news_events/index.php?read=1&id=366&date=2011
 

pathology_doc

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Who here has read the short story "Night of the Vampyres"? I believe it's part of a compilation called "Songs of Stars and Shadows." Topical, because it details a fight between laser-armed fighters and laser-armed bombers. What happens to the hero, flying one of the fighters, isn't pleasant. The words "His cheeks were wet. And it wasn't sweat" are used.
 

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