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Airborne laser shoots down a missile

It is only a matter of time before ballistic missiles are rendered impotent and obsolete.

15 comments to Airborne laser shoots down a missile

  • Alsadius

    I wouldn’t go that far. Yeah, shooting down one missile is good fun, and quite useful if we ever get into a pissing match with North Korea, but do you want to guarantee a 100% success rate against several thousand missiles? Because I’d rather not rely on it, myself. It’s a valuable tool, but there’s no such thing as a perfect defense.

  • As for Alsadius, I think “rendered impotent and obsolete” is overstating things, important though this demonstration may well be.

    Much of war is about attrition, which requires having a sufficiency of weapons, in the right place at the right time. A history of the radar, majoring on the Vietnam air war, which I read (regret I cannot remember the title) told of a very interesting battle of measures, count-measures and counter-counter measures; this included jamming and shooting down the jamming platforms (themselves aeroplanes). We have lasers shooting down missiles; all too soon we will have lasers shooting down lasers and (smaller, faster) missiles shooting down lasers too; and what about mirrors or evasive manoeuvres if and when the (not very fast acting) main beam is detected?

    It would also be interesting to know at what range these successful attacks were made. Clearly atmospheric dispersion of the laser beams is a matter of some importance, if it must be measured and corrected for prior to the ‘main-beam’ attack.

    Even given all these doubts, it is a very interesting development in the technology of warfare: step by step as it goes.

    Best regards

  • AKM

    This laser is for taking out ballistic missiles during the boost phase; it depends on having the laser aircraft on station in range of the enemy launch site BEFORE the enemy decides to launch. As such it’s 100% useless against surprise attacks.

  • Brad

    Airborne lasers are nowhere as cool as the USAF’s Directed Energy Sea Mammals project.

  • Kevin B

    I fully expect the anti-missile measures and counter-measures, (back to chaff anyone?), to continue apace with perhaps the development of rail-guns to be the key next stage, but whatever the advances in high tech toys, war will always come down to ‘boots on the ground’ and the logistics to get them where they’re needed and keep them in ‘bread and bullets’.

  • Sadly, Mr. Sunshine’s administration has canceled the ABL program and is reducing it to a technology demonstrator. I’m afraid that they are eventually going to try and kill it altogether and bureaucratically lobotomize anyone involved.

  • DOuglas2

    But just think of the future peace dividend of not having the cost of operating all of those airborne laser platforms in the region of the country that no longer wants to target us with missiles…

  • Sunfish

    But just think of the future peace dividend of not having the cost of operating all of those airborne laser platforms in the region of the country that no longer wants to target us with missiles…

    If the PWFBs in the PRC or FSU want to stop targeting us, I’m not stopping them. They don’t need our permission.

    As a wise man once wrote, NMD is like installing good locks and a burglar alarm: it’s very educational indeed to note who complains. NMD is no more different than a you or I putting in solid-core doors and smoke detectors and a large dog and a carbine, steps that are not out of line for any prudent homeowner.

  • Boots On The Ground are great, until someone comes along and trumps you with Robots On The Ground.
    :P

  • Kevin B

    Yeah Darryl, but once our robots and their robots have ground each other into dust on the battlefield, the call will go out and the PBI will march into battle and dig in and the winners will still be the ones with the most boots on the ground.

  • Alice

    “This laser is for taking out ballistic missiles during the boost phase; it depends on having the laser aircraft on station in range of the enemy launch site BEFORE the enemy decides to launch. As such it’s 100% useless against surprise attacks.”

    I know nothing about this — but it seems that if an aircraft-mounted laser can look down through the murky atmosphere and heat a rocket in boost phase to destruction, then it ought to be relatively simple instead to point the laser up from a nice 35,000 ft through the very thin upper atmosphere and melt the warhead on a missile passing above in its (relatively long) ballistic phase. And probably have time to make a leisurely cup of tea before the silly thing burns up as it re-enters the atmosphere. Now that would be a surprise — to those who fired the missile!

  • JohnRS

    Every really new or innovative weapon is touted as being the “end of threat X” depending on what the current big threat is. A while later we’ll get the announcement of counter-measures, defences, new tactics etc that reduce the new toy’s effectiveness and restore some sort of balance between offense and defense. (i.e. Sword/shield, castle/artillery, battleship/submarine, tank/missile, bomber/fighter etc)

    We’re currently in the exciting “announcement” phase and all the gullible fools who want to believe that our enemies dont really exist will be urging us to disarm even further. Give it a year or two before doing anything we can’t easily undo and then see if a) this new toy really works and b) if anyone has come up with a counter to it.

  • Paul Marks

    I hope you are correct Dale.

  • Steven Groeneveld

    I can’t help thinking that, since a laser is light, it can be reflected by a mirror. put a series of corner reflectors on the missile and it will reflect the laser beam straight back to its origin, surprising the operators of the laser, for sure.

  • Nuke Gray

    So a canny missile-owner might well fill the first wave of missiles with chaff, or silvery balloons, so as to defeat the search for the next round of missiles with war-heads. There’s always something!