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The Military Shark Science Technology

Boeing's Enormous Navy Laser Cannon 291

An anonymous reader writes "Boeing is working to build a huge, incredibly powerful, soon-to-be-seafaring laser for the US Navy. This free electron laser can produce light of any wavelength (ie, color) directly from an electron beam, and gets an energy boost from a superconducting particle accelerator. Once it's onboard ships, the laser could be used to shoot down cruise missiles and artillery shells."
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Boeing's Enormous Navy Laser Cannon

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  • Does it make (Score:3, Insightful)

    by markian ( 745705 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:47PM (#36520300)
    Does it make "pew pew pew" noises?
  • Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by lennier1 ( 264730 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:47PM (#36520302)

    Imagine the size of those sharks required for such huge laser weapons.

  • by Ian_Bailey ( 469273 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:51PM (#36520372) Homepage Journal

    Why not, say, Forest Green, or Taupe?

  • This is why the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers were designed with way more generation and distribution capacity then they currently need, the Navy knew that directed energy weapons were the future of point defense systems. It may be free electron lasers or perhaps some kind of rail gun, or perhaps something else, but it seems unlikely that the chemical powder based system at the heart of CIWS will still be in use in 60+ years when the Ford is retired.
  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:56PM (#36520460)

    If you look closely at the upper left in the 10th photo in the linked article, the one of the control room:

    Is that a nixie tube display in the top slot of the third rack from the right?

  • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @05:57PM (#36520486)

    Could you bounce the beam off a satellite and back down to earth targets? Or to air and space targets that are over the horizon? Could you do it with something flying lower, like a mirror mounted on a aircraft?

    • by jpapon ( 1877296 )
      I've gotten wooshed several times lately, so I'm going to assume you're joking.
      • If you feel you're going to be wooshed just click on the score and see if the mods have picked it up. I don't see too many funny posts marked as insightful these days
    • The illustration in TFA shows the beam bouncing off something- I would guess it was a plane or satellite.

    • I would not want to be the guy flying the giant-mirror-for-the-superlaser aircraft

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Could you do it with something flying lower, like a mirror mounted on a aircraft?

      Think how much popcorn we could make with something like that!

    • Perhaps you could convert old school drive-in movie theater screens into reflectors.

      Or better yet, adapt them into some kind of capacitor to store the laser energy until needed.

      But you would need to be very careful with your targeting. I seem to remember an experiment in the mid '80s using similar, albeit much less advanced, technology that caused untold damage to at least one network's television relay satellite. The same incident reportedly destroyed or severely damaged several consumer televisions throug

  • Looks impressive, and though it may be a technical term or what the thing is universally called, lets rename the "wiggler" part. Doesn't exactly inspire fear.

    President: "Look, North Korea, either you turn the giant kim-il-jong robot around, or we deploy the electron beam laser with wiggler attachment"
    Clone of Kim-il Jong: "Bwahahah! We are not afraid of your wiggly little laser! KIMBOT! DEPLOY THE MIRROR SHIELD!"
  • Prepare to fire Wave Motion Gun.
  • I take a look at my enormous laser
    And my troubles start a-meltin' away (ba-doom bop bop)
    I take a look at my enormous laser
    And the happy times are comin' to stay (be-doo)

  • How will it handle rain, cloudy conditions, etc? Generally, battles are started during increment weather. The reason is to make it harder for an enemy to know what you are up to. Of course, with radar, etc. that is less of an issue. However, a laser should still be impacted by the amount of rain that it has to go through in a typical ocean storm.

    In addition, it brings up the question of, how often can it fire? If it can do multiple shots than it might not be as useful as regular bullets. However, if it ha
    • Increment weather? I prefer to write that weather++ myself.
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Generally, battles are started during increment weather. The reason is to make it harder for an enemy to know what you are up to.

      I hear there are also these things called infrared imaging devices. It's been a LONG time since darkness, fog, and smoke were any hindrance to a properly equipped force. Pearl Harbor? Fine weather. The Invasion of Europe? They sweated out one day of foul weather in order to get to the next day of reasonably good weather so they could launch it. And so on.

      Perhaps in the time of Napoleon or the Civil War skulking around in fog could give a significant advantage.

  • That was just the senate committee. The house will add it in, and then both will have to agree on this. It is all but certain that this money will be restored. Too much good science in this.
  • ...THAT IMAGE is the best they can do depicting it? It looks like it was photoshopped by a 12 year old.

  • Do lasers have any effectiveness vs inertial bombs? there are no combustibles to detonate.

  • ... about all the program cancellations. The FEL is an interesting technology in search of a suitable application.

    So far, the only thing it manages to burn through reliably is funds.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.