Solid State Laser News

New test for USN.
Highlights , a few quotes

“effective, accurate, easy-to-operate tool that is significantly cheaper than any other existing means of protection,” against the threats Israel faces.
"not meant to replace the Iron Dome or Israel’s other air defense systems, but to supplement and complement them, shooting down smaller projectiles and leaving larger ones for the more robust missile-based batteries"
"the laser-based system can be seen intercepting a rocket, a mortar, and a drone at an undisclosed location in southern Israel’s Negev desert"

"The recent tests were the first to be successful against the other threats, including unguided projectiles and anti-tank guided missiles. (The latter was not shown in footage released by the ministry.)"
"without detailing the exact number of kilowatts "

"The downside of a laser system is that it does not function well in times of low visibility, including heavy cloud cover or other inclement weather"
" For that reason, the ministry intends to also mount the system on an airplane, which would help get around this limitation by putting the system above the clouds, though that is still a few more years off, ministry officials have said."

Iron Beam looks a good system for Israel with its in the main wall to wall sunshine to allow lasers to be fully operational and save a fortune compared to Iron Dome which cost them a $billion plus in Tamir missiles last year expended countering the on target numbers of the ~4,000 RAM fired from Gaza last year. Israel will need to retain Iron Dome for when weather unfavorable. The thought that Israel could mount Iron Beam in aircraft looks very expensive defeating the rationale as a low cost system.

For other countries without the wall to wall sunshine of Israel makes the case for lasers dubious at best, as with Israel you still need conventional missile systems when subject to adverse atmospheric condition, clouds etc. why would you field an additional laser system with all the tens of $millions costs involved that is non-operational when it rains much more often than it ever does in Israel?
When coupled with frequency modulation and HPMW synchronized beams, Laser can pass through water and clouds humidity.
The technology is simply at an higher level than what Israel is ready to unveil or may be able to reach today.
Notice also that their approach is for a distributed network of firing units that would require a lower level of sensitive technology to remain productive. It would seem fairly logical from them to have balanced the pros and cons of deploying a large amount of potentially sensitive technology and come around this dual approach of Laser and more classical Iron Dome to fit the bill at a lower risk.
Sounding a note of caution on some of the Pentagon's big ticket R&D programs including lasers by someone who should know, James Stewart, chief electro-magnetic warfare scientist at the Navy’s Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind.

A drastic step forward now with DARPA:

US military researchers are trying to turn in-flight refueling tankers into laser-shooting "airborne energy wells" for charging drones, and they want the public's help to figure out how.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) published a request for information (RFI) from anyone willing and able to contribute their tech, with a few caveats. It needs to fit on existing in-flight refueling tankers (the newer KC-46 and Cold War-era KC-135, specifically) and be able to deliver 100kW of power.

This Request for Information (RFI) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Tactical Technology Office (TTO) seeks technologies and innovative solutions that could be adapted by existing aerial refueling aircraft to expand their role as an Airborne Energy Well capable of transferring power to future Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) assets via laser energy beaming technologies.

Responses to this RFI will be used to inform and explore future programs that advance the ability of airborne assets to dynamically move energy across a network of aircraft equipped with energy beaming and receiving technologies. This Airborne Energy Well is a potential component of a more expansive energy web of power generation, transfer relays and receiving solutions, enabling the Department of Defense (DoD) to dynamically allocate energy resources to more flexibly deliver military effects.

Why a Refueling a/c?
- They are loitering platforms
- They use large turbofans engines with plug and play electrical generation units for peak load transfer
- Their massive fuel capacity can be used to generate electricity (DC) via SOFC (Solide Oxyde Fuel Cells) without the need of massive heavy batteries for storage and transformers.
- Their massive fuel capacity can be used to store excessive heat and hence provide easy cooling for the laser
- Their large wet surface can be used to store electricity under electrostatic form efficiently
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There's also a lot of room in a tanker since fuel masses out long before it bulks out. I think KC-10s, KC-135s basically have open cabin space and the additional fuel is stored mostly in what would be the cargo space of a civilian airliner. I believe KC-10 specifically has a secondary cargo role for self deployment to other theaters.
French DoD order CiLAS laser anti-microdrones solution that is compatible with in-public usage (tailored power and bandwidth to reduced unwanted blinding effects). System should be in place to protect Paris Olympics:

Some old info though I don't recall seeing the image before (it may be in a bad link though):

Sound to me as the most serious effort yet in the world for Space beamed energy. Amazing that it has to be the military with all the talks around fossil energy and climate change.

Get Greta some fatigues...

The Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research program (SSPIDR) really does sound interesting though details seem to be very scarce. Basically all I could find was AFRL's own press release which was then copy-pasted on a few websites. With $100M I hope it comes to something, I can imagine both military and civilian applications. While we really don't - and won't - have singular silver bullets to mitigate climate change in the quite constrained time frame available to meaningfully avoid truly chaotic runaway effects, having more options to chip away at the core problems is always welcome.

I don't find it at all amazing that military research has (even great) potential in the climate change realm as well. The Pentagon, after all, recognizes the effects of climate change as one of the main drivers of global risk, whatever politicians (or indeed authoritarians) may say. Let me illustrate by simply juxtaposing some numbers. This is just in the vein of the original notion I'm commenting on, not in order to be snide or maliciously flippant at the idea of the necessity of well resourced and thoroughly considered defense. I'm just attempting to expand of the intertwined nature and actual scale of these challenges, however tangentially the issue came up here.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is funded by member states' contributions to a trust fund, the accumulated income over 30 years being ~$170M. Therefore Northrop Grumman with this one contract alone seems to have secured more than half of that funding to develop this single, as yet unproven technology. Kudos to them if in this instance they can do more for the climate with that than the IPCC but you can color me skeptical for the time being. Expanding on this, it was recently reported that using existing soil and land management practices we can basically buy 15-20 years of time to come up with a more permanently sustainable energy infrastructure, a project with a price tag of $300Bn (over 10 years). World overall military expenditure for 2018 was $1.8Tn, so an annual $30Bn would come to roughly 2% of that, amirite?

Of course, (e.g.) in the US the military budget is only ~4% of the GDP so "hard" security and capabilities are only a fraction of overall societal/global resilience. So how are we doing, otherwise? Well, while renewable energy production is on the rise, the overall growth in demand seems to largely and substantially be outstripping the potential benefits. Renewable energy currently stands at a paltry 2% of the total and coal, oil and gas stand to dominate the mix all the way through 2040 with 85% of the total. This, to put it in the mildest possible of terms, is not good. We (as in the "World") are currently subsidizing - i.e. on top of the sector's "conventional" income - the fossil fuel industry (and by extension, some pretty reprehensible leaders, their henchmen and a supporting cast of oligarchs) to the tune of $5.2Tn a year, of which $500Bn consists of direct "cash money" benefits.

Hence, there's at least a comparable (and arguably threefold) investment of public money and resources spent in actively worsening climate change as is allocated to defense/military. The generals should indeed be "green", if not for anything else but envy alone. And what of the private sector? Well, as a vignette into the "logic" of the markets, since the Paris climate pact top investment banks have poured an additional $700Bn into fossil fuel industries.

So, should Greta enlist? I doubt that's in line with her ethos but I certainly enlist in her idea that on climate change we really should listen to (and invest into) expertise. As things stand, no amount of defense spending can buy us any meaningful leverage or resilience against our overall stupidity. Indeed, many seem to be banking on that.
Lasers vs HPM range

Talking of the THOR HPM and the future 50% more powerful Mjölnir, Adrian Lucero of AFRL said “There are other effectors out there that are intended to go against drone systems like guns, nets and laser systems,” he said. “But what Thor brings to the table is it has a larger range to affect and it has a decreased engagement time.”

Previously understood that lasers due to their concentrated beam always claimed a longer range compared to HPMs whose beam spread over wide range of azimuth and elevation, but Lucero statement seems to contradict that assumption, what am i missing ?

Presuming the decreased engagement time reflects the fact that HPM does not have individually target each drone in a swarm before moving on to the next one as with a laser but due to its wide coverage can take several at one time making it more effectve to take out a swarm.

I don’t see how an HPM could have longer range then a laser, though it might beat out most other anti drone systems. By “range to effect”, perhaps he meant area?

100s of watts laser system at 25Kg, tests of range out to 100m (seems short), works against static targets for now, internal power supply
Several hundred of Watt?! That's semantically less than a kW... With the many hours on a target that would probably be needed to achieve a meaningful goal, this can not be called lasing but more appropriatly lazy-ing...

From pew pew to Zzz.

100s of watts laser system at 25Kg, tests of range out to 100m (seems short), works against static targets for now, internal power supply
It would be an excellent pigeon deterrent but I can't see any military uses at that power level.
Several hundred of Watt?! That's semantically less than a kW... With the many hours on a target that would probably be needed to achieve a meaningful goal, this can not be called lasing but more appropriatly lazy-ing...

From pew pew to Zzz.

A bit more details reveal the tracking technology at the base of the claim:

Dragonfire has passed its tracking and accuracy trials at low power. The next step seems to be to marry that accuracy to high power operation.

Dwell time's still long, but if their detection is up to snuff this will be useful in the intended role.

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