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fredymac

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Looks like Boeing's work with the HEL MD beam control system has given them a win to do the same for the Navy.
http://www.asdnews.com/news-59071/Boeing_System_Could_Bring_Precision_to_Laser_Weapons_on_US_Navy_Ships.htm

Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing all want to do beam control while Northrop Grumman (JHPSSL) and Lockheed (Acculight) also want to do the HEL part. All of them use Brashear Systems gimbals for the beam director although LaWS used a militarized telescope from RCOS (Brashear is expensive). So far, General Atomics (HELLADS) only does HEL work.
 

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http://breakingdefense.com/2015/02/are-missile-defense-lasers-on-the-verge-of-reality/

“We think that, with today’s technology, fiber lasers will scale to 300, arguably beyond 300.” With future improvements in the underlying laser technologies, he said, “we think we can get well beyond 500 kw.”

The article also says they are 'dollar' limited not technology limited. I'd be pumping money into this system big time.
 

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bobbymike said:
The article also says they are 'dollar' limited not technology limited. I'd be pumping money into this system big time.
The Navy's going to be hooking them up, if they can get Congress to open the tap.
 

fredymac

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That referenced article centered on Lockheed's fiber laser technology (via their Acculight subsidiary). They are using spectral beam combining to generate a coherent output which will focus much tighter than a simple amplitude combining system (like LaWS). Each fiber laser has a deliberately tuned and very small wavelength difference which can be used with a diffractive holograph (acting like a grating) which lets you point each beam with a slight angle difference in order to overlap at a common center axis and exit with a single output angle.
Northrop's JHPSSL approach is to spatially offset each amplifier beam at a different position within the optical aperture but to phase them so they are already coherent with each other. It doesn't matter that they are not physically contiguous.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9JZSjsgWm0
 

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fredymac

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Another Rheinmetall laser video this time showing clips from their 2013 live fire demos. What is interesting is the marketing aspect. It is unlikely that US laser technology will be offered for foreign sales anytime soon but awareness of the ongoing progress is probably generating increasing sales prospects among rich "dilettante" arms buyers who want the latest toys. China would probably buy 1. Just 1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0K4FM9RHF8&feature=player_embedded
 

shedofdread

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http://aviationweek.com/defense/lasers-technology-targets-mini-uavs?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20150402_AW-05_770&YM_RID=%27email%27&YM_MID=%27mmid%27&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2

Lasers Technology Targets Mini-UAVs

Aviation Week & Space Technology - Defense Technology Edition

Bill Sweetman

Thu, 2015-04-02 04:00

Mini-UAV threat creates need for practical lasers

Two German teams are working on a military-funded program that could lead to a world first: an operational air-defense laser. Whether one or both succeed depends on whichof two concepts works well enough to earn a place on the front line.

While Rheinmetall and MBDA Germany use some of the same technology (both companies featured their laser work at February’s IDEX defense show in Abu Dhabi), they take dissimilar approaches to one of the fundamental challenges of using the laser as a weapon: putting a tightly focused dot of energy on target. It is easy to concentrate on the output power of the laser, and many current and historic projects are aimed at new technology for beam-generation (AW&ST Feb. 16-March 1, p. 30).

But getting enough heat on a target to damage it means having high power, focusing it on one spot and keeping it there as the target moves. Good performance means the weapon can be effective at lower power levels. That is the goal of German research, because it offers the prospect of a true laser weapon using inexpensive and reliable commercial laser sources.

This development parallels another trend: the emergence of a serious military threat that may be vulnerable to a laser weapon. Mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide real-time target tracking, location and strike damage assessment for artillery or rocket attacks, and can act as precision-guided weapons against high-value targets. Not only are they hard to hit with missiles or gunfire, but using missiles against a mini-UAV is expensive.

That is why one Rheinmetall laser engineer uses a €1 coin ($1.05) to make a point about the company’s weapon. “This is the size of the beam on the target at 1,000 meters (3,300 ft.), and it’s also what one shot costs.”

Both companies base their systems on commercial fiber-laser modules. These are used in manufacturing for metal cutting and welding, and are efficient, inexpensive and reliable. The laser energy passes through a fiber-optic cable from the beam-former to the optical unit, a good factor for vibration and shock resistance. Germany also leads the industrial laser market. Today, standard laser modules come in 10- and 20-kw versions, which are not enough for a weapon, so the key is the use of optical systems to combine and focus multiple lasers on one spot.

The main difference between the MBDA and Rheinmetall approaches is that MBDA uses reflective optics and Rheinmetall uses lenses.

The advantage of mirrors, MBDA argues, is they absorb less energy than lenses, so the optical system can be driven to high power levels without fundamental change. Although tests in 2012 and 2013 used four 10-kw laser modules, the current system easily could go to 80 kw with standard modules. “We are also working with industry on alternate source technologies,” says one engineer, adding that with the right coating technology, “100-150 kw is not a problem.”

Rheinmetall accepts the power limitations of lenses (although its optical system could run to twice its current power) but says the lens-based optical system is easier to focus and adjust. In its fixed-site/naval demonstrator system, using the same mount as the Mantis counter-rocket, artillery and mortar gun system, three laser projectors are fixed to the trunnion in place of a gun barrel. Internal movements of the optics are used for fine aiming, to focus beams on target and converge the three beams on the same spot at the target’s exact range.

This has an incidental advantage: The beams diverge beyond the target, so the eye-safety range (the distance beyond the target that has to be confirmed free from people or manned aircraft) is shorter. The potential is also there to use multiple laser turrets against a single target to gain range or achieve a quicker kill.

The 20-kw ceiling on commercial lasers is economical as much as technical. Industrial users are not calling for greater power, and the defense market, so far, is tiny.

Solutions to engineering challenges —packaging the system and providing power and cooling—also are underway. MBDA is considering flywheels as alternatives to batteries: The key in either case is to provide instant full power.

Executives note that the laser offers a graduated response against a loitering UAV: damaging the sensor, dazzling (which, because of the potential to blind a pilot, is not a legal option against a manned aircraft) or destruction. Sensor, dazzling can be effective at very long range. The optics also can be used for long-range identification, complementing the weapon’s ability to deliver a discriminating response.

A Rheinmetall engineer says mini-UAVs are also a concern for event protection, and a laser can disable or destroy a threat within a 1-km (0.6-mi.) radius.
 

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fredymac

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flateric said:

I wonder what is balancing all that weight on the other side of the wing? Assuming 15% efficiency for the laser, how much electricity can that turboprop provide and still have useful optical power. Somehow trying to pile on HEL and directed RF at the same time seems to biting off a bit too much.
 

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Well 300kw in this sized package would be a game changer and probably fit nicely on LRS-B for self defense DEW.

http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/military/tactical-laser-weapon-module-can-laserify-almost-anything
 

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Wow. Given that this is General Atomics, I would have to guess this is the first public display of a HELLADS laser system. Here are the pictures.
 

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fredymac

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More on General Atomics HELLADS laser specs from their website news posts. What is really interesting is the fact that this HEL is battery powered. Assuming 15% efficiency, a 150KW output would require a 1MW pumping power. The article mentions 30sec run times. If that is at the 150KW rating, that would mean 30 megajoules of battery energy. Even at a 50KW laser output, the battery would be storing 10 megajoules of energy.
Gen 3 High Energy Laser Completes Beam Quality Evaluation HEL System Designed for Land, Sea, and Airborne Platforms
SAN DIEGO – 8 April 2015 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced that an independent measurement team contracted by the U.S. Government has completed beam quality and power measurements of GA-ASI’s Gen 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL) using the Joint Technology Office (JTO) Government Diagnostic System (GDS).
“These measurements confirm the exceptional beam quality of the Gen 3 HEL, the next-generation leader in electrically-pumped lasers,” said Claudio Pereida, executive vice president, Mission Systems, GA-ASI.
The new laser represents the third generation of technology originally developed under the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS, Gen 1) program. The Gen 3 Laser employs a number of upgrades resulting in improved beam quality, increased electrical to optical efficiency, and reduced size and weight. The recently certified Gen 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms.
The Gen 3 HEL tested is a unit cell for the Tactical Laser Weapon Module (TLWM) currently under development. Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300 kilowatt laser output levels.
The GDS was employed by an independent measurement team to evaluate the beam quality of the Gen 3 system over a range of operating power and run time. According to JTO’s Jack Slater, “The system produced the best beam quality from a high energy laser that we have yet measured with the GDS. We were impressed to see that the beam quality remained constant with increasing output power and run-time.”
With run time limited only by the magazine depth of the battery system, beam quality was constant throughout the entire run at greater than 30 seconds. These measurements confirm that the exceptional beam quality of this new generation of electrically-pumped lasers is maintained above the 50 kilowatt level.
Following this evaluation, the independent team will use the GDS again to conduct beam quality measurements of the GA-ASI HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS). The HELLADS DLWS includes a 150 kilowatt class laser with integrated power and thermal management.
 

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http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/04/20/26058131/?hootPostID=dcbe6013570ff7df393ce6a63194318f

Interview at Sea-Air-Space 2015: Lee Mastroianni, ONR , on high engergy lasers for air defense
 

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http://aviationweek.com/technology/general-atomics-third-gen-electric-laser-weapon-now-ready#comment-87651
 

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http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/04/21/us-navy-tests-laser-weapons

Most interesting paragraph IMHO:

"“It’s very different than the lasers you have seen on the Web,” he says, referring to test videos from the USS Ponce. “The laser technology is more mature. We are far beyond killing boats and unmanned aerial vehicles.”
 

fredymac

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One of those things people don't think about is that among the most vulnerable components on a manned figher is the man.
HEL systems tend to "aim through the barrel". That is, the large optical aperture used to direct the beam is also the pointing/tracking sensor. Given the aperture, a highly resolved image of the target is generated for the aiming reticle and you can select what part of a target to hit. Lethal exposure time for 150KW is probably just a few seconds.
 

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AFRL To Meet With Special Forces Chief On AC-130J Gunship Laser

The head of the Air Force Research Laboratory's directed-energy office believes the new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship could carry a high-power, electric laser weapon, and he plans to meet with Air Force Special Operations Command chief Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold in early May to discuss future requirements.
 

fredymac

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bobbymike said:
AFRL To Meet With Special Forces Chief On AC-130J Gunship Laser

The head of the Air Force Research Laboratory's directed-energy office believes the new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship could carry a high-power, electric laser weapon, and he plans to meet with Air Force Special Operations Command chief Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold in early May to discuss future requirements.

Ironic. The "Advanced Tactical Laser" was a C-130 equipped with a HEL. Even though it was a COIL chemical laser, the beam control system and the target effects testing would have been applicable for any laser in the same general wavelength band. After spending years developing and integrating the hardware, the aircraft was flown for a very brief time during which it proved its' pointing/tracking capability. And then it was cancelled and gutted. Just like the Airborne Laser.
 

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SpudmanWP

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Maybe they canceled it because the saw the "writing on the wall" of upcoming electric lasers.
 

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Fredy the knowledge base which produced the optics and control system didn't go away when HEL died, and the advances we see today in those fields reflects that fact.
SpudmanWP said:
Maybe they canceled it because the saw the "writing on the wall" of upcoming electric lasers.
That was certainly a factor.
 

fredymac

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Moose said:
Fredy the knowledge base which produced the optics and control system didn't go away when HEL died, and the advances we see today in those fields reflects that fact.
SpudmanWP said:
Maybe they canceled it because the saw the "writing on the wall" of upcoming electric lasers.
That was certainly a factor.

Actually the knowledge base is on life support. The HEL engineering/R&D community was never big and has been decimated during the past 7 years. The optical fabrication business that relies upon military optics has been similarly hollowed out. There is a residual base sufficient to support these small efforts of which electric lasers are part. But comparing budget numbers going into HEL related programs would show a 70% or more reduction with similar cuts in employment. When these people leave, they are, by necessity, moving largely to completely different career categories.
Regarding the applicability of the ATL to electric lasers, I am referring to pesky but vital details such as jitter suppression on a turboprop, gimbal control algorithms for air to ground engagements, boundary layer turbulence effects in an actual real world environment, target effects for air to ground HEL, etc etc. None of these require an electrically pumped laser. The thing is, all these options were rejected wholesale. Instead, the program was cancelled after flying for less than a year. The politics is reminiscent of the decision not merely to cancel the B49 bomber (valid on technical merits), but to actually order all existing airframes to be literally chopped to pieces. A vindictiveness that goes beyond programmatic decision making. The same was done to the ABL. Originally, the program was downscoped to an R&D program. Then after a little wait, the aircraft was flown to the boneyard and all the optics ripped out.
 

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bobbymike

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http://www.space.com/29271-space-station-laser-cannon-orbital-debris.html?cmpid=514648
 

bobbymike

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/05/150-kilowatt-solid-state-combat-laser.html
 

fredymac

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bobbymike said:

From the link:
"The third generation solid state laser is to be demonstrated in 2018 on the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer that now serves as the U.S. Navy’s ship-defense test vessel at Port Hueneme in California."


The Self Defense Test Ship is a remote controlled destroyer used to test anti missile defense systems (like ESSM or RAM) against threat representative missiles. That they are planning to install this on that particular ship suggests an intent to directly test the laser against these same threat categories. A step up from the rockets/artillery/mortar targets being engaged by lower power lasers. I would guess they are going to be looking more at a body kill as opposed to igniting the warhead explosives. Burning off a wing or cutting the missile in half over a 3-to-5 second engagement period is feasible at 150KW levels (assuming the beam director aperture is sized similar to LaWS).
 

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http://breakingdefense.com/2015/05/lasers-on-a-plane-air-force-wants-fighter-firing-100-kilowatts-by-2022/?utm_source=Breaking+Defense&utm_campaign=e75c4c88c7-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4368933672-e75c4c88c7-407814345

Laser on a fighter by 2022.
 

mkellytx

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SpudmanWP said:
Maybe they canceled it because the saw the "writing on the wall" of upcoming electric lasers.

And because the COIL chemicals were seriously nasty. A SETP presentation on HEL included a little bit about them filling the cargo bay with gaseous Cl during an airborne test...
 

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http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2015/05/21a.aspx

HELLADS ready for field testing.
 

fredymac

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bobbymike said:

The article mentions testing "this summer". I wonder if someone actually thought ahead and prepared a beam director and beam control system to mate up with the HELLADS laser. Otherwise, designing and integrating those elements would take 18 months on a fast track schedule. I would guess they are going to take it to the North Oscura Peak facility since JHPSSL took the old THEL site. The old MIRACL/HELSTF facility is another possibility although I can't believe the Sea Lite beam director would still be there.

You can see some of the "kill" silhouettes painted on the side of the telescope in this picture. Lot's of videos that have never been posted to Youtube.
 

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sferrin

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I'll bet I've posted that picture here half dozen times myself. :D

Barely watchable but:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdRWhs-lakY

Somebody captured that from video tape years ago. I've had an original VHS tape that clip was in, but given how many years it's been boxed away I doubt it's still viewable. (Even if I still had a VCR.)

Here's a pic from that test.

 

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It should be remembered this was all occurring from the late 70’s through the late 80’s. And the sensors, electronics, and software were stone age compared to today. The culmination of SDI’s laser based programs was the “Ground Based Free Electron Laser Technology Integration Experiment”. Unfortunately, it was stillborn when Congress gutted the project almost as soon as Reagan left office. The laser was to be competed between Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos. Interestingly, a 15KW subscale laser was finally built by the Jefferson National Laboratory. This is still the preferred long term laser for the Navy but it is now sitting on the back burner due to limited funding and priority for near term solid state laser alternatives. Plans for a 150KW prototype had been in the works but appear to be canceled.






https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWdGkb7r1iA
 

bobbymike

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/05/high-powered-solid-state-150-kilowatt.html

A little more information
 

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fredymac said:
bobbymike said:

The article mentions testing "this summer". I wonder if someone actually thought ahead and prepared a beam director and beam control system to mate up with the HELLADS laser. Otherwise, designing and integrating those elements would take 18 months on a fast track schedule.
We gotta shake you of this notion that the DoD went back to the laser stone age when THEL was canned.
 

fredymac

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Moose said:
fredymac said:
bobbymike said:

The article mentions testing "this summer". I wonder if someone actually thought ahead and prepared a beam director and beam control system to mate up with the HELLADS laser. Otherwise, designing and integrating those elements would take 18 months on a fast track schedule.
We gotta shake you of this notion that the DoD went back to the laser stone age when THEL was canned.


I fail to see where I say we actually retrograde in technology when we stop active research. However, we do lose the core competence embodied in the people who leave. Resuming research then requires re-establishing that competence or you wind up repeating mistakes. All this takes time and money. How long and how expensive would it be to resume F22 production without any changes? Even assuming all the tooling was properly stored. And this is in a field large enough to still have reserves of people in active industry who are knowledgeable in the subject area.

Nothing in the newly linked article about HELLADS testing answers my speculation whether a beam director has been already prepared so tests can be conducted in just a couple months. Either they are talking about something other than a similar facility to the JHPSSL/SSLTE site or they did in fact make a 2 year advanced decision to prepare a beam control system to mate up to the HELLADS device. Lead time for a beam control system is measured in years unless it is given high priority and allowed to follow a concurrent development cycle in which case it might be less than 2 years. Just mating a laser to a beam director without building any new hardware takes longer than a couple months.
 

bring_it_on

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Beam control programs are underway for an aerial HEL system. General Atomics has Lockheed managing that aspect of the program. http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2014/september/0915-ss-laser.html
 

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fredymac said:
Moose said:
fredymac said:
bobbymike said:

The article mentions testing "this summer". I wonder if someone actually thought ahead and prepared a beam director and beam control system to mate up with the HELLADS laser. Otherwise, designing and integrating those elements would take 18 months on a fast track schedule.
We gotta shake you of this notion that the DoD went back to the laser stone age when THEL was canned.
Nothing in the newly linked article about HELLADS testing answers my speculation whether a beam director has been already prepared so tests can be conducted in just a couple months. Either they are talking about something other than a similar facility to the JHPSSL/SSLTE site or they did in fact make a 2 year advanced decision to prepare a beam control system to mate up to the HELLADS device. Lead time for a beam control system is measured in years unless it is given high priority and allowed to follow a concurrent development cycle in which case it might be less than 2 years. Just mating a laser to a beam director without building any new hardware takes longer than a couple months.
Over 2 years, in fact:
Hellads is a liquid-cooled, solid-state laser that has been under development for DARPA for several years. GA-ASI is building a 150kW Hellads laser to be integrated with an existing US Air Force beam control system for a ground demonstration in 2014.
 

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HELLADS acceptance testing complete.


http://media.ga.com/2015/05/22/hellads-laser-completes-development/


Some quotes from the linked article:


“HELLADS represents a new generation of tactical weapon systems with the potential to revolutionize sovereign defenses and provide a significant tactical advantage to our war- fighters,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “It is remarkable to see high-power laser technology mature into an extremely compact weapons system and be deployed for field tests. It will be even more remarkable to witness the impact that this will have on U.S. Defense capability.”


"The third Generation system is currently being incorporated into a Tactical Laser Weapon Module designed for integration into both manned and unmanned aircraft systems."


I still get the impression they really don't use a liquid gain medium and I have seen a couple of descriptions indicating a more traditional design but I will just wait until I see a schematic of the resonator layout.
 

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/fiber-lasers-more-than-just-better.html
 

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bobbymike said:
http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/fiber-lasers-more-than-just-better.html
Thank you for posting sir .
Hope we are talking Hybrid

http://spie.org/x91156.xml

"Optically pumped rare gas lasers that use chemically inert reagents combine the best characteristics of solid-state and gas-phase systems with fewer of the complications of other hybrid techniques."

Too much 'proprietary component design' may be scary. dunknow
 

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http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2015/July/Pages/DirectedEnergyWeaponsWillTheyEverBeReady.aspx
 

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bobbymike said:
http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2015/July/Pages/DirectedEnergyWeaponsWillTheyEverBeReady.aspx
Great article thank you posting bobbymike. Yes increasingly devs are going to crawl work run.. but if you ain't at least crawlin your certainly gonna be layin dead. Again USG/Congress/members of Congress are going to need to absorb that crawling risk. Industry and rightly so, is going wait until they do.
 
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