Skip to comments.US DoD push for laser, microwave weapons (in FY2004 planning)
Posted on 08/10/2002 5:54:17 PM PDT by knighthawk
By Andrew Koch, JDW Bureau Chief, Washington DC, and Nick Cook, JDW Aerospace Consultant, London
In its FY 2004 Defence Planning Guidance, the US Department of Defense calls on the US Air Force (USAF) to plan for directed-energy (DE) weapons within a decade. Industry officials say the technology exists to support those plans.
Mike Booen, vice president for directed-energy programmes at Raytheon, said that high-powered microwave (HPM) and laser weapons are "on the verge of moving from the science and technology phase into the tactical platform phase".
Some of these concepts are already under development, according to industry and air force officials. George Muellner, president for Phantom Works, the research and development organisation of Boeing, said that concepts for a DE weapon - "probably a high-powered microwave" - are being developed for the future Block 30 upgrade to the X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). Under this concept, the HPM would be used to suppress enemy air defences, and could also be used to disable other electronic equipment such as command-and- control nodes. Noting that HPM weapon "technology is available and maturing", Muellner said: "The problem has been finding an effective way of aiming them," as well as protecting the carrier vehicle.
HPMs "are several years more technically mature than solid-state lasers", Booen said, noting it is reasonable to expect field demonstrations in the next five years. He added that HPM technology is advancing and that "the power is there" for weapons-usable systems.
Another concept being developed is the deployment of a high-powered solid-state laser on board the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Booen said that Raytheon has developed a compact packaging concept that will allow its solid-state laser to be fitted into the vertical take-off and landing lift-fan space aft of the JSF cockpit, as well as in the bomb-bay of a UCAV. The laser, notionally conceived as having 100kW of power, "will be lethal to some weapon systems" and allow the user "to do things you might have used certain munitions for".
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Seriously, I hope they get it working soon, we can use it in this day and age.
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