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Subject: Raytheon - New 20KW Laser Can Destroy Mortar Rounds
Softwar    10/15/2007 8:49:25 AM
Aviation Week & Space Technology 10/15/2007, page 19 Raytheon?s directed-energy group has demonstrated a 20-kw. laser that can detonate mortar rounds at 500 meters. It comprises 40 low-power lasers bundled together and boresighted, but operating without the use of a beam-control device. Raytheon plans to upgrade the lasers for longer range anti-artillery and anti-unmanned aircraft missions. The company also fired a kilowatt-class, solid-state illuminator for the Airborne Laser program more than 50 times for up to 90 sec.
 
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doggtag       10/15/2007 10:03:29 AM

Aviation Week & Space Technology
10/15/2007, page 19

Raytheon?s directed-energy group has demonstrated a 20-kw. laser that can detonate mortar rounds at 500 meters. It comprises 40 low-power lasers bundled together and boresighted, but operating without the use of a beam-control device. Raytheon plans to upgrade the lasers for longer range anti-artillery and anti-unmanned aircraft missions. The company also fired a kilowatt-class, solid-state illuminator for the Airborne Laser program more than 50 times for up to 90 sec.

500m, eh?
 
I realize these DEWs are, for all intents and purposes, still in their infancy.
I'll withhold my fanfare until we can routinely bring down targets 1/2 mile away or more (800m+).
(routinely, as in, "not solely under ideal labratory conditions.)
 
And is there any reason why Raytheon suggests just anti-artillery and anti-UAV missions?
Logic dictates this should be the obvious follow on to SAMs.
We may be a few decades away from a DEW that can replace a 100+km SAM, but for close range work (to 25km or so?)
I would think we'll see those within the next 10-15 years.
 
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Softwar       10/15/2007 10:35:51 AM
We have already seen THEL and son of THEL (Skyguard) may yet be introduced to address the short range missile threat in Israel.  The ABL is similar - chemical lasers with limitatiions in size and fuel.  If I am not incorrect a C-130 turrent mounted version is about to make an entry too.  We are likely to see these make the entry first in the next couple of years.
 
The solid state laser advances and a possible re-design using the AESA type configuration might yet prove portable enough and powerful enough for multiple applications such as AD against cruise missile and ballistic missile threats.  However, please note it is competing against large array AESA DEW technology - something already being demonstrated at the fighter level (F-22 and F/A-18F).
 
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doggtag    yes, but...   10/15/2007 12:35:17 PM

 The solid state laser advances and a possible re-design using the AESA type configuration might yet prove portable enough and powerful enough for multiple applications such as AD against cruise missile and ballistic missile threats.  However, please note it is competing against large array AESA DEW technology - something already being demonstrated at the fighter level (F-22 and F/A-18F).

...I can see the sense in utilizing AESA DEW types mounted in aircraft (certainly to include some future lighter-than-air ship/blimp/aerosonde/dirigible that has tremendous loiter capability over a theater),
but I would think that if I'm using ground vehicles, the chemical- or solid state lasers would be the choice weapon.
 
Perhaps it may all come down to:
-which consumes more power, chemical- or solid state laser system, or AESA DEW?
-which is more rugged, to hold up better under the rigors of land combat?
-which takes up more volume? Space is at a premium in tactical aircraft, but many ground vehicle designs can easily mount a larger turret to accomodate bulkier weapons.
 
This could very well end up being like the whole debate of guns and tube projectiles versus guided missiles: they'll both have their merits and shortcomings, but teamed together will be a force to be reckoned with.

For one thing, we'll need a better name than AESA DEW, something that rolls of the tongue a little more colorfully?
Microwave cannon?
Agressive radar (or at least Aggressive Mode for the radar) ?
EM spiker (or EM spike weapon, or EM blaster) ?
 
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Softwar       10/15/2007 2:55:17 PM
HERF - High Energy Radio Frequency - a good old standby name tag that covered a spectrum of sins.
 
I do agree that a combination may be in order here.  Some systems are vulnerable to AESA output - cruise missiles require lightweight skin and have multiple access panels.  BM warheads are usually hardened and have fewer access points.  They also have a tendancy to be less vulnerable to heating by design.
 
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french stratege       10/17/2007 8:19:59 PM
It can detonate round by acting on fuze and not doing an hole in the metal.
With adapted fuze to avoid shock effect from laser beam, it will be worthless.
However I agree work should continue on DEW.
At least best potential is in DIRCM.
 
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Softwar       10/18/2007 12:39:44 PM
DIRCM is only valid against IR seekers.  The effort there is to confuse, spoof, blind or otherwise break the IR lock of a missile on track.  Once its seeker lock is broken it becomes a un-guided ballistic rock in flight.
 
DIRCM is a last ditch effort to break a missile LOCK.  While lasers can be trained on an IR seeker driven air-to-air missile at longer range to attack the system - DEWs such as AESA attacks can destablize the electronic guidance system outright.  Air to air missiles - while not having the same number of access panels as larger ground and anti ship systems - are still quite vulnerable because they again must be lightweight and aerodynamic first.  Thus, AESA attacks have a pretty good chance of success since any sheilding on the missile is apt to be minimal.
 
Laser and DEW systems such as AESA radars are not limiting themselves to screwing up the seeker like a DIRCM.  In the case of anti-ship missiles, messing with the gyro stablization electronics, radar altimeter or any of the basic electronic control systems will put it in the water far short of a target.  This is vastly different from trying to spoof the radar seeker that has locked on target.
 
In land attack cruise missiles all of the above applies - in addition to trying to scramble the navigation computer or INS tracking systems.
 
None of these attacks are destructive (aimed at destroying a part of key component) but intrusive - intended to destablize the electronic control systems.
 
The final attack mode is destructive - which requires power on the order of several magnitude greater than an intrusive attack.  This is intended to destroy the on-board electronics or damage a key part of the vehicle itself.
 
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doggtag    SoftWar (& any others who've brought it up)   10/18/2007 4:25:16 PM
That last post of yours concerning just what DEW/microwave AESA emissions can do to scramble an inbound missile's electronics:
it makes one wonder just to what level the USN will be watching AESA DEW capabilities.
These could make for very effective aggressive EW systems mounted on ships, even UAVs, both for countermeasures/CIWS versus missiles as well as direct electronic attack versus other ships or aircraft.
 
Why should the USAF be having all the fun?
 
(I have personally decided to call it aggressive EW, because we're actually intending to physically damage an adversary's equipment, as opposed to "lesser" EW attacks intended to jam or disrupt his sensors.
...unless somebody comes up with a better terminology.)
 
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