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Subject: Game Changer: Northrop Grumman Announces the FIRESTRIKE Laser
doggtag    11/14/2008 8:28:35 AM
Northrop Grumman Announces the FIRESTRIKE Laser, World's First Weaponized Solid-State Laser for U.S. Military Services (Source: Northrop Grumman Corp.; issued November 13, 2008) REDONDO BEACH, Calif. --- Northrop Grumman Corporation today introduced the FIRESTRIKE laser, a ruggedized, high-energy, solid-state laser designed as a line replaceable unit (LRU) for battlefield applications, ready for order now. The FIRESTRIKE laser offers warfighters a 15 kilowatt (kW) fieldable laser as well as a combinable LRU building block for much higher power, based on a laser beam combining architecture validated by Northrop Grumman over many years with the Joint High Power Solid State Laser program, Vesta and Vesta II. “We are ready to deliver on the promise of defense at the speed of light with FIRESTRIKE,'' said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. “The FIRESTRIKE laser power per cubic foot has been greatly enhanced from its successful laboratory predecessors.'' He noted the FIRESTRIKE laser has been hardened for military uses but also was designed with life-cycle costs and reliability in mind. “FIRESTRIKE is designed for field operations and simple replacement,'' Wildt added. “This is a rugged electric laser with power levels, beam quality and runtime suitable for offensive and defensive military utility. Also available is a newly-designed laser current source assembly (LCSA), which is compact, and specifically developed to precisely meet FIRESTRIKE's power needs. Combined with advanced electro optical and/or infrared sensors, the FIRESTRIKE laser can provide self-defense, precision strike and enhanced situational awareness capabilities.'' The FIRESTRIKE laser is a line replaceable system that allows for scaling a laser weapon to desired power levels for specific warfighting applications and platforms. Northrop Grumman believes that FIRESTRIKE laser will form the backbone of future laser weapon systems. Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide. FIRESTRIKE Laser Features: -- Power: 15kW laser -- Beam Quality: Nominally 1.5 times the diffraction limit -- Size: *Laser head - 12" x 23" x 40' (width, depth, height) *Current source - 9" x 13" x 30" -- Runtime: Continuous, as long as power and coolant are provided -- Instant Turn-on: Zero to full power in less than 1/2 second -- Safety: Remote operation, customer interlock access, internal safety sensors -- Control: Common Command and Control (C2) systems and Ethernet interfaces -- Low Power Setting: Provides nominally 100 watt alignment beam -- Weight: 400 lbs per LRU -- Ruggedization: Hardened LRUs with compact SSL technology engineered for mobility and field operations -ends- Photos accompanying this release are available at { ht*p:// } ...and did we mention it's scalable? { ht*p:// }
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lurker       11/14/2008 11:51:40 AM
wow... what are its specific uses? Is it useful against infantry or tanks? Or is it a defensive weapon against things like mortars, artillery strikes, missiles, etc.
(go easy on me, not real knowledgeable)
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reefdiver       11/16/2008 1:10:16 PM
Of course  I believe you still need 1MW of power for the 90kw version.
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doggtag       11/16/2008 8:16:05 PM
Somewheres in the numerous other links and sites that mentioned this, NG was predicting efficiencies of 20% were reasonably achievable, suggesting that a 100kW battlefield system would require ~500kW of input power...
....was over at the Register.Co.UK .....
" Energy efficiency for Northrop's chains is supposedly in the 20 per cent region. This suggests that a full-bore 100kW battle ray will weigh about 1.5 tonnes and require half a megawatt of power. That's pretty hefty, but it's within the ballpark for modern combat vehicles. "
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doggtag       11/18/2008 3:14:19 PM
...appears The Register most likely got their article info from Defense-Update.Com
,and that's where I did initially see the part about the ~20% efficiency.
(The Register link was among the quickest that popped up on a web query).
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theBird       11/19/2008 2:07:34 AM
I'm still waiting for my Mauser-looking Blaster Pistol I can shoot bounty hunters under the table of the Cantina with!
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FJV       11/19/2008 12:45:43 PM
Honestly it all depends. I really don't have enough info and I don't expect to get to see it either.
In my opinion this still is in the maybe it is something, maybe it is not catagory.

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doggtag    maybe's and maybe-not's   11/19/2008 2:13:37 PM
Raytheon claims that it can now (or damn soon will be able to) mount a hard kill laser weapon onto a Phalanx assembly.
Whether or not that means it's ready for full-scale fielding is a different story, because DEW/laser power requirements are much higher than the battery pack and power feeds of a standard Phalanx system can generate (even for that mobile Centurion thing: at ~20% efficiency, it'll need minimally 500kW just to generate a 100kW kill beam, and that's not taking into effect the power needed to actually move the gun (azimuth, elevation) and run the onboard radars, and FLIRs, and fire control.
...but as I got into a debate on another thread here, this isn't the stuff of 1/4-century-away,-if-ever anymore.
We're going to see battle-ready hard kill laser systems in our lifetime after all.
Maybe not next year.
But surely sooner than 25.
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WarNerd       11/19/2008 5:10:32 PM
Watch for civilian spin-offs from this, the market could be huge.  That could result in a rapid decline in $/kw.
Also, while a 100kw output may be needed for something like counter artillery or antipersonnel applications, a single 15kw module might be enough the disable a small UAV like the Dragonfly.
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HERALD1357       11/19/2008 5:52:32 PM

Watch for civilian spin-offs from this, the market could be huge.  That could result in a rapid decline in $/kw.


Also, while a 100kw output may be needed for something like counter artillery or antipersonnel applications, a single 15kw module might be enough the disable a small UAV like the Dragonfly.

NG has been pushing its chemical laser SCAM for so long, that it doesn't surprise me now that they are pushing their SSL stuff right now. 15 kilowatts is impressive. Its still not ready for prime time as the heating or rather refrigeration problem and the diode replacement problems still remain. I think its premature to announce battlefield ready yet for a barely bench-tested demo unit... Raytheon AFAICT is still a few years away from operational. If they don't announce their own progress in response to this, then take NG with a grain of salt.
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