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Beam weapons almost ready for battle

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Preacherman, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Elder

    Dec 20, 2002
    Louisiana, USA
    From MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10805240/):

    Beam weapons almost ready for battle

    Directed energy could revolutionize warfare, expert says

    By Leonard David
    Senior space writer

    Updated: 12:10 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2006

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - There is a new breed of weaponry fast approaching — and at the speed of light, no less. They are labeled "directed-energy weapons," and they may well signal a revolution in military hardware — perhaps more so than the atomic bomb.

    Directed-energy weapons take the form of lasers, high-powered microwaves and particle beams. Their adoption for ground, air, sea, and space warfare depends not only on using the electromagnetic spectrum, but also upon favorable political and budgetary wavelengths too.

    That’s the outlook of J. Douglas Beason, author of the recently published book "The E-Bomb: How America’s New Directed Energy Weapons Will Change the Way Wars Will Be Fought in the Future." Beason previously served on the White House staff working for the president’s science adviser under both the Bush and Clinton administrations.

    After more than two decades of research, the United States is on the verge of deploying a new generation of weapons that discharge beams of energy, such as the Airborne Laser and the Active Denial System, as well as the Tactical High Energy Laser, or THEL.

    "History has shown that, without investment in high technology, fighting the next war will be done using the 'last war' type of technique," Beason told Space.com. Putting money into basic and long-range research is critical, Beason said, adding: "You can’t always schedule breakthroughs."

    A leading expert in directed-energy research for 26 years, Beason is also director of threat reduction here at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. However, he noted that he was expressing his own views rather than the policy of the laboratory, the Defense Department or the Energy Department.

    Ripe for transformation?

    Though considerable work has been done in lasers, high-power microwaves and other directed-energy technologies, weaponization is still an ongoing process.

    For example, work is continuing in the military’s Airborne Laser program. It utilizes a megawatt-class, high-energy chemical oxygen iodine laser toted skyward aboard a modified Boeing 747-400 aircraft. Purpose of the program is to enable the detection, tracking and destruction of ballistic missiles in the boost phase, or powered part of their flight.

    Similarly, testing of the U.S. Army’s Tactical High Energy Laser in White Sands, N.M., has shown the ability of heating high-flying rocket warheads, blasting them with enough energy to make them self-detonate. THEL uses a high-energy, deuterium fluoride chemical laser. A mobile THEL also demonstrated the ability to kill multiple mortar rounds.

    Then there’s Active Denial Technology — a non-lethal way to use millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary. This technology, supported by the U.S. Marines, uses a beam of millimeter waves to heat a foe’s skin, causing severe pain without damage, and making the adversary flee the scene.

    Beason also pointed to new exciting research areas underway at the Los Alamos National Laboratory: Free-electron laser work with the Navy and a new type of directed energy that operates in the terahertz region.

    Niche for new technology

    While progress in directed-energy is appreciable, Beason sees two upfront problems in moving the technology forward. One issue has to do with "convincing the warfighter that there’s a niche for this new type of weapon," and the other relates to making sure these new systems are not viewed as a panacea to solve all problems. "They are only another tool," he said.

    Looming even larger is the role of those who acquire new weapons. "The U.S. could put ourselves in a very disastrous position if we allow our acquisition officials to be non-technically competent," Beason explained.

    Over the decades, Beason said that the field of directed-energy has had its share of "snake-oil salesmen", as well as those advocates who overpromised. "It wasn’t ready for prime time."

    At present, directed-energy systems "are barely limping along with enough money just to prove that they can work," Beason pointed out. Meanwhile, huge slugs of money are being put into legacy-type systems to keep them going.

    "It’s a matter of priority," Beason said. The time is now to identify high-payoff, directed-energy projects for the smallest amounts of money, he said.

    Unknown unknowns

    In Beason’s view, Active Denial Technology, the Airborne Laser program and the THEL project, as well as supporting technologies such as relay mirrors, are all works in progress that give reason for added support and priority funding.

    "I truly believe that as the Airborne Laser goes, so goes the rest of the nation’s directed-energy programs. Right now, it’s working on the margin. I believe that there are still ‘unknown unknowns’ out there that are going to occur in science and technology. We think we have the physics defined. We think we have the engineering defined. But something always goes wrong … and we’re working too close at the margin," Beason said.

    Stepwise demonstration programs that spotlight directed-energy weapon systems are needed, Beason noted. Such in-the-field displays could show off greater beam distance-to-target runs, mobility of hardware, ease-of-operation, battlefield utility and other attributes.

    Directed-energy technologies can offer a range of applications, from botching up an enemy’s electronics to performing "dial-up" destructive strikes at the speed of light with little or no collateral damage.

    Beason said he has a blue-sky idea of his own, which he tags "the voice from heaven." By tuning the resonance of a laser onto Earth’s ionosphere, you can create audible frequencies. Like some boom box in the sky, the laser-produced voice could bellow from above down to the target below: "Put down your weapons."

    Relay mirrors

    Regarding use of directed-energy space weapons, Beason advised that "we’ll eventually see it."

    However, present-day systems are far too messy. Most high-powered chemical lasers — in the megawatt-class — require onboard fuels and oxidizers to crank out the amount of energy useful for strategic applications. Stability of such a laser system rooted in space is also wanting.

    On the other hand, Beason said he expected to see the rise of more efficient lasers — especially solid-state laser systems. "What breakthroughs are needed … I’m not sure. Eventually, I think it’s going to happen, but it is going to be a generation after the battlefield lasers."

    Shooting beams "through space" is another matter, Beason quickly added. Space-based relay mirrors — even high-altitude airships equipped with relay mirrors — can direct ground-based or air-based laser beams nearly around the world, he said.

    "So you’re using space … exploiting it. But you are going through space to attack anywhere on Earth," Beason said.

    History lesson

    Late last year, speaking before the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Beason told his audience that laser energy, the power sources and beam control, as well as knowledge about how laser beams interact with Earth’s atmosphere, are quite mature technologies that are ready for the shift into front-line warfare status.

    "The good news is that directed energy exists. Directed energy is being tested, and within a few years directed energy is going to be deployed upon the battlefield," Beason reported. "But the bad news is that acquisition policies right now in this nation are one more gear toward evolutionary practices rather than revolutionary practices."

    "Visionaries win wars … and not bureaucrats. We’ve seen this through history," Beason observed.
  2. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Senior Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    "Bean" weapons??????????????

    Been eating at Taco Bell again?

    May want to change the thread title.
  3. starfuryzeta

    starfuryzeta Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    FL, USA
    I thought nerve agents were pretty much outlawed. :neener:
  4. FPrice

    FPrice Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    People's Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    That was my first thought also....gas warfare.

  5. shermacman

    shermacman Participating Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    I think bean weapons will always be a part of human warfare. From Silent But Deadly to window rattling blasts, the end result is the same: combatants fleeing like cock-a-roaches from the scene.
  6. Preacherman

    Preacherman Elder

    Dec 20, 2002
    Louisiana, USA

    OK, guys, thanks for the heads-up. Spelling mistake corrected.

  7. sm

    sm member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    Gives a whole new meaning to Beam me up Scotty.

    Oh Shut up! I just beat Preacher is all. :D

    Okay is this beam akin to Diamonds Are Forever?

    Great, we got a need for James Bond and we gotta anti gun wuss playing the part.

    So all these space stations /satellites have other real uses I guess.

    Hey , from the folks next to Area 51. Who'd a thunk it - huh?

    Maybe that is what George Bush Sr. meant by a "single point of light" in them speeches of his...considering what he was doing before being President...

    Okay I have stirred enough thoughts for now...
  8. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    New technologies + Tired old thinking = More land wars in Asia

    That said™, if it means fewer Americans end up dying, I'm all in favor of it.
  9. rero360

    rero360 Active Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Fredonia, NY
    hmm... sounds like star wars to me, does this mean I get a wookie to follow me around and rip the arms off of people that I don't like? sounds good to me, bring on princess lea:evil:

    all kidding aside, I think we're going to have to have a jump in power storage devise technology before we see anyhing like that on the battlefield, at least in the hands of the individual soldier.
  10. mbs357

    mbs357 Participating Member

    Dec 14, 2004
    Vienna, VA
    I've been hearing that battery technology had been increasing rather well lately.
  11. Logistics

    Logistics New Member

    Jan 13, 2004
    These weapons ARE already in preliminary use in some elite special forces units. T&E is being done as we speak!
  12. Slotback

    Slotback Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I wonder if that plane carrying Iran's top generals wasn't a test target.
  13. ForGreatJustice

    ForGreatJustice New Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    DEW battles!

    Yeah..it's definitely time. DEW attacks are more common than you think. Ever since commanders realized that tactical and ranging lasers were harmful to human eyesight, they've been unofficially deployed with that secondary purpose in mind. I believe China has a laser specifically designed to permanently incapacitate both optics and human eyes.
  14. Parker Dean

    Parker Dean Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    Corpus Christi, TX
    So let's see here, in the last couple of weeks we've had articles talking about Warp Drives being tested in the next few years, the successful test of a new low-speed space drive, and now Directed Energy Weapons.

    Almost makes you wonder if we're not being "prepared" for something.
  15. Chrontius

    Chrontius Member

    Jan 16, 2005
    Future Shock

    Welcome to the Singularity, folks. I suggest a quick perusal of Snow Crash and The Diamond Age (there's a discount if you buy both together) and when it comes out on DVD, watching Odyssey 5 (the unofficial heir to The X Files' throne, as-yet-uncompleted but likely to see a movie, much like Firefly and Serenity) to see how far it's likely to go in our lifetimes.

    Even if I'm full of it, all three of those are quite entertaining.
  16. pete f

    pete f Participating Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    remember a few months ago and a attempted piracy of a cruise liner, they used a sound beam to disable the attackers. it is here and being used.

    Colinear sound and microwave energy is simply the laser principle adapted to other wavelenghts. by eliminating scatter, it is possible to direct sound in a way that is true astounding. imagine taking a single person in a ball game and making them hear what you are saying and no one else can? think you could drive people NUTS doing that? In grad school we had preliminary units where we could talk to one person in a room and no one else would hear it. but we were limited in range and power. Imagine now being able to focus all the energy of a Led Zep concert into a beam only one person could hear, It would be truly mind blowing. in that your head could explode.

    colinear heat waves or microwaves have been shown to work to. On NOVA once, they were showing micro waves being managed to cook a steak on aplate from many yard away all the while other people were just sitting there as if nothing was happening. They also showed it being used for crown control, beaming it in to a crowd of "attackers" the person being "nuked" would stop for a second and then dive or the ground trying to get away from the heat source. As soon as a person leaves the beam the heat goes away. supposedly no harm done.
  17. solareclipse

    solareclipse Member

    Sep 18, 2005
    Inbetween FL and TN
    how long before i can get one of those off the shelf? getting bored of the 223 and 308 :rolleyes:
  18. LAK

    LAK Senior Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    It could also revolutionize the way some governments deal with foreign and domestic organized dissent and civil unrest ;)

  19. El Tejon

    El Tejon Elder

    Dec 24, 2002
    Lafayette, Indiana-the Ned Flanders neighbor to Il
    May The Force be with you, young Skywalker.
  20. hillbilly

    hillbilly Senior Member

    Jul 10, 2003
    The laws will be way behind these things.

    If flamethrowers aren't "firearms" and thus not regulated by the BATFE, then neither will these things.

    There will be lag time between the final development of these and rules and laws governing their possession.

    Stock up then!!!


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