June 2, 2014
US Laser Weapons not so Hot, but getting there
June 2, 2014. Arlington, VA. As far back as 1928, laser weapons were featured in the comic Buck Rogers. By 1934, they were seen in other works like Flash Gordon. In 1966, the TV show Star Trek also glamorized laser weapons. But in 1977, the movie Star Wars introduced them to the whole world and even fueled President Ronald Reagan to dream up a laser weapon he termed the Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative. Now, those dreams have come to fruition and America’s military lasers are being deployed.
The world’s first deployed laser beam weapon. Image courtesy of Navy Times.com.
Considering America’s military geniuses have had nearly a century to develop laser weapons, they haven’t come as far as most people imagine. In fact, today’s military laser weapons are little more than a glorified magnifying glass burning leaves or bugs. It works, as anyone who’s ever been the victim of the prankster with a magnifying glass on a sunny day can attest. Holding that concentrated beam of sunlight on a person’s skin isn’t even noticeable for the first few seconds. But after that, it’s excruciatingly painful because that beam of light is slowly but literally lighting you on fire.
US laser weapons
Earlier this year, we published the article, ‘Reagan’s Star Wars Laser Defense goes to Lockheed Martin’. It was in 1983 that President Reagan gave his Star Wars speech detailing an umbrella defense system protecting the nation with lasers instead of anti-aircraft guns or surface-to-air missiles. Ten years later in 1993, a company called Aculight successfully created the laser weapon. In 2008, Lockheed Martin bought Aculight to guarantee its position as a prime recipient of future American military spending.
Now that videos of the laser weapons in action have been released by the defense industry and other entities, we can see just how effective or ineffective they truly are. Currently, Lockheed has successfully tested a 30-kilowatt beam, with a 60-kilowatt version scheduled for release in two years. But as readers can see from this video of what appears to be a 10-kilowatt laser, a much stronger beam would be required to make this a successful weapon. It seems to take quite a long time to cripple or destroy the enemy craft. And this is a slow-moving, easily burnable, rubber boat.
Laser weapons rapidly advancing
While the above video shows laser weapon technology as of three years ago, the below video appears to show a much more powerful and impressive weapon. In this demonstration, a fast-moving jet airplane is targeted and it takes only a few seconds, as opposed to the full 30 seconds in the demonstration above, to light the enemy craft on fire. Almost immediately, the plane begins to come apart in midair.
Military commanders and Defense Dept bureaucrats are not only excited about the laser weapon’s performance and possible applications, but their ecstatic about the cost. Whereas a typical cruise missile costs roughly $1 million, each firing of the laser weapon costs a mere $1. And unlike the large storage areas necessary for missiles, as well as the logistics for rearming and resupply, the laser requires no additional space and never runs out of its invisible ammunition.
President Reagan’s vision of a laser weapon was for defensive purposes only and called the Strategic Defense Initiative. The modern-day military laser is a 100% offensive weapon and has been given the name LaWS for Laser Weapons System. US Navy officials confirm the weapon is being tested to see how well it integrates with the nation’s existing weapons systems. The goal for commanders is to have a laser that can use current tracking, radar, and targeting systems for guidance rather than a completely separate system.
Laser weapon deployed to Persian Gulf
So far, Navy spokespeople have indicated the integration has been a success and the next step is to send a laser-equipped warship such as the USS Ponce to the Persian Gulf to do real world drills with other US Naval vessels. “This is a revolutionary capability,” Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder announced in Navy press release in April, “It’s absolutely critical that we get this out to sea with our sailors for these trials, because this very affordable technology is going to change the way we fight and save lives.”
One problem with the laser weapon system that seems obvious to some, but has garnered no response from military officials, is the relatively easy way any enemy can thwart the weapon. Even more likely, Mother Nature can easily stop the weapon from working too. Two things appear to hamper the laser’s success – mirrors and fog/rain.
Defenses against laser weapons
As detailed by IPG Phototronics, a private company that develops lasers for manufacturing and educational uses, “Our multi-kilowatt low mode fiber lasers are not susceptible to back reflection issues if the appropriate delivery fiber is utilized. With single-mode lasers they in most cases do not have a problem, unless highly reflective materials are processed. However, if the back reflection is too high, the units sense the reflection and automatically shut down. The addition of an isolator eliminates this issue. IPG have numerous units in the field cutting and welding highly reflective material such as copper and aluminum on a production basis.”
So in other words, just as the shape and material used on modern military planes makes them invisible to radar – a fighter, bomber, ICBM or Naval warship constructed with a mirrored surface, possibly something as simple as polished copper, steel or aluminum, could deflect the laser beam off into a different direction rendering the targeted craft unaffected and possibly even reflecting the deadly laser back at friendly forces.
Laser weapons for population control
Laser weapons aren’t only being tested for military use. The US government has also been experimenting with allegedly non-lethal, crowd control laser weapons. Two years ago, we at Whiteout Press published the article, ‘Pentagon Crowd Control Weapons leaked’. The report featured a just-leaked Pentagon file called the ‘2011 Reference Book’. The documents themselves claim, “This document contains information exempt from mandatory disclosure under the ‘Freedom of Information Act’.
What the secret government guide included was a menu of the newest and most experimental crowd control weapons being developed by the Defense Department for use by the Justice Department on the American people, and any other populations that may stand up to US military authority around the world. One of those weapons was a laser beam.
Titled ‘Green Lasers’, the item is classified as a ‘counter-personnel’ weapon in the guidebook. It is used to, “Deny access into/out of an area to individuals, move individuals through an area, and suppress individuals.” The Pentagon document explains that unlike the military’s other laser beams that burn the surface of the target, the counter-personnel lasers for crowd control target the victims’ eyes and vision, assumedly blinding them, burning retinas and causing great pain. The guide also exposes the laser weapon’s Achilles heal – fog, rain or light-filtering goggles.
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