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bring_it_on

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The Army ditched the 150 kW stepping stone to the 300 kW HEL because the former had marginal capability against cruise missiles (if any at all). That added a couple of years to the program but I think it is a right approach. The focus on sub 150 kW should be compact packaging for base defense against C-UAS. Anything that goes into IFPC or other formations must be capable of defeating some of the hardest threats outside CRAM and small drones.
If such a powerful laser can fit on an FMTV truck, what about navy ships?
Navy ships are already getting lasers. The Navy wants this capability earlier and that limits initial power levels to around 150 kW max. The Army will test a prototype system in 2023ish time-frame and will likely take a production decision and field systems later in the decade. Navy is already installing its systems. Some of the designs are limited by power and space but nothing is really stopping the Navy (nothing technical) for getting a 300 kW - 0.5 MW HEL on the DDG-1000 using efforts already underway within the DOD. It is possible within the 2020's itself if the Navy put serious effort into it. Meanwhile laser scaling efforts are looking at higher power levels still. I see the LSC and FFG(X) as perfect opportunities to transition these systems (higher power levels).
 

bobbymike

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Grey Havoc

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Perhaps they should have written 'first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser this Century' or similar.
 

fredymac

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Lockheed HEL ad. Nothing new but the distinction of HELIOS being an integrated part of the ship instead of a bolt on prototype shows HELs are finally getting their nose into the tent.


 

TomcatViP

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Notice that all 35's seems to be Bee airfrale. IMOHO the shaft mounted engine will be so well suited to generate power with the fan bay used to host eall the necessary systems for such weapons.

I wonder if it's what we are shown to see. Although we have a pod mounted laser displayed on the F-16.
 

fredymac

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Video showing Israeli Light Blade laser popping balloons.

 

TomcatViP

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The lid cover actuator will need a serious upgrade. Unlike you like slow motion fight, that looks fairly cheap for an high-tech weapon.
 

Firefinder

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The lid cover actuator will need a serious upgrade. Unlike you like slow motion fight, that looks fairly cheap for an high-tech weapon.
Maybe, depends on how well the expect the early warning system to work.

Consider this is Israel who has show to have good Early Warning, they probably expect that they will have amble time to pop the lid and preposition it to kill the target as it get into range. Remember they only need to open once per engagement, so being fairly cheap is probably a plus.
 

Grey Havoc

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The lid cover actuator will need a serious upgrade. Unlike you like slow motion fight, that looks fairly cheap for an high-tech weapon.
Another thing is that proof of concepts/tech demonstrators are often built quickly out of parts and materials that are on hand, so to speak. So it is likely that the operational version would use a better layout.
 

TomcatViP

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The lid cover actuator will need a serious upgrade. Unlike you like slow motion fight, that looks fairly cheap for an high-tech weapon.
Another thing is that proof of concepts/tech demonstrators are often built quickly out of parts and materials that are on hand, so to speak. So it is likely that the operational version would use a better layout.
I do agree. Given the expected low cost of modifying the mechanism, that would be a probable source of future discontent if not.
 

jsport

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fredymac

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I'm not sure how you point it. Even if there was a jack lift to prop it vertically (and you need constant adjustment for tracking) there is no obvious way to point in azimuth.
 

Rhinocrates

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I'm not sure how you point it. Even if there was a jack lift to prop it vertically (and you need constant adjustment for tracking) there is no obvious way to point in azimuth.
There appears to be some sort of joint above the cab. My guess is that the cylinder would be hoisted to a vertical position like a missile preparing for launch and then two joints direct the beam wherever you like. The more obvious joint would deal with altitude while rotation would deal with azimuth - that's not so visible because its a simple rotating joint, flush with the cylinder.

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fredymac

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I wonder if this is a private alternative to the SHIELD laser? Boeing was doing the pod for that and maybe Lockheed wasn't happy with their work.

In the video, the laser pod is attached to fighters but there is no reason a bigger pod couldn't be mounted directly to the KC-46. With the extra room/power generation available, a stronger laser would be able to go after the attacking fighter instead of the missile it launches.
 

TomcatViP

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You'll probably go with HPMW in that case.

The advantages of the laser pod for a fighter is illustrated in the video: it can reposition itself to engage the threat (getting closer, inside weapon deadly engagement envelope). And the pod is lightweight.

The tanker can't manoeuvre and a laser weapon will be dependent of a clear line of sight. That leaves the engagement odds in the hands of the aggressor...

On the contrary, the superior available power (through SOFC and static discharge) is more suitable for an HPMW (no line of sight needed, highly directional if not hemi-spherical). The constraints is mass and the draw on fuel that have to not jeopardize mission.
 

fredymac

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Greater laser power allows greater range. At 25,000 feet altitude, your horizon is almost 200 miles and the fighter is probably at a similar altitude so it will be in line of sight. Attacking at that range means you will need a bigger beam director aperture (to reduce diffraction) so it will be too big for a fighter. However, a smaller/weaker laser pod is easier and cheaper to build so it might be a better starting point. If you are operating in an area with persistent stratospheric clouds then using fighters would also be useful if you wanted a greater keep out range.

I think HPMs are still directional although not as much as lasers (if you think of them as extremely powerful radar beams). The CHAMP missile is the exception but in that case it is directly overflying the targets at short range.
 

TomcatViP

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If I was in that Mig 29, I will sneak below cloud overcast and fire from there. Good luck to get me first or my missile coasting toward you at Mach 4.

Good point for the directional constraint.
 

fredymac

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Guess it depends on how good is my situational awareness (on board and networked). As for Mach 4, assuming 750mph per Mach, the laser is travelling at roughly Mach 900,000.
 

TomcatViP

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Yes but you need to detect, acquire, track, slew your sensor and lase.

Meanwhile every Hour the missile cover 3000miles, hence it covers the distance from 5kft (cloud overcast top layer) to your cruise altitude (20kft) in 1/1000th of an hour (we have 20-5=15=3miles), what is 3.6 seconds.

Obviously I am taking the easiest theorical case where your forward speed is negligeable, the missile acceleration to Mach 4 is instantaneous and the mig29 launch vertically right under the plane.

But still, if we apply a factor of two to cover for the simplifications (arbitrary), we can still see easily how that will be a short time to
detect, acquire, track, slew the sensor and lase.
 
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bobbymike

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Yes but you need to detect, acquire, track, slew your sensor and lase.

Meanwhile every Hour the missile cover 3000miles, hence it covers the distance from 5kft (cloud overcast top layer) to your cruise altitude (20kft) in 1/1000th of an hour (we have 20-5=15=3miles), what is 3.6 seconds.

Obviously I am taking the easiest theorical case where your forward speed is negligeable, the missile acceleration to Mach 4 is instantaneous and the mig29 launch vertically right under the plane.

But still, if we apply a factor of two to cover for the simplifications (arbitrary), we can still see easily how that will be a short time to
detect, acquire, track, slew the sensor and lase.
The Mig gets within 15,000 feet!!!! Of the other aircraft?
 

fredymac

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If a MiG is getting that close to me before detection, that would become priority 1 in the R&D list. Off hand, I assume tankers have overwatch (AEW&C aircraft, ships, satellites, etc). The video actually showed a DAS like system on the KC-46 but air tasking plans would presumably realize high value assets need radar cover.
 
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