Advanced Tactical Laser

That may not be very aerodynamic

I don’t think we’ll know what countermeasures are effective until the systems are deployed. “Just emit a bunch of smoke” would seemingly throw off a lot of missiles as well, but that doesn’t seem to be a common countermeasure. And the counter-countermeasure to that is for aircraft to share their targeting data, so that even if one plane is blocked, another will still have line of sight.

It’s easy to come up with a laundry list of potential countermeasures, but much less easy to figure out which ones are really effective, and what the costs really are. Ok, cover your aircraft in shiny metal–but now you’ve ruined any potential stealth abilities. And so on.

It’s possible that lasers will never be used, but their mere existence means that the enemy has to pay a cost (in dollars or performance) to counteract their potential. And so they may have value even if they never shoot down a single aircraft.

Certainly, lasers will become standard armament on ships (and fixed emplacements) before they will on planes, because ships have so much more both power and room available, and hence can afford to carry one or two of an inefficient weapon with niche usefulness. And once they’re common on ships, the countermeasures (whatever they turn out to be) will also become more common. And that’ll delay their use on planes even further.

Not necessarily. Suppose that shipborne lasers are so powerful that there’s no effective countermeasure for a plane aside from staying under the horizon. Then, planes would only install countermeasures if they expect other planes to have them.

At a certain point, if a weapon becomes so powerful that there is no defense against it, the only “defense” will be offense - destroy the weapon. Adversaries would probably respond to a massive ship-borne killer laser by finding better and better ways to sink the ship. They’d focus all the more on submarines, etc.

Are ship borne radar systems at that range sufficiently accurate enough to hit the target with a laser. I thought at 100+nm ranges radar had 10-20 m range error and in the order of 100m altitude errors. That’s going to make hitting a moving target quite hard.
Missiles will have a more accurate homing system for final approach and the close in weapons systems crank up the frequency and get quite frenetic in the pinging to get a more accurate fix on the incomming.
With a laser on a ship you only have the accuracy of the radar to guide the laser on target

No idea about radar, but optics have no problems at that distance. The AN/SEQ-3 appears to be optically guided; in fact its optics seem to be a sophisticated tool in and of themselves (from the wiki):

Mounted on Ponce’ s superstructure above the bridge, its powerful optics are also useful as a surveillance tool that can detect objects at unspecified but “tactically significant ranges”; sailors have equated its surveillance abilities to having the Hubble telescope at sea.

Could be they use radar for a coarse fix and optics to do the final correction.

I guess, so long as it’s not dark or cloudy or hazy close to the sea surface.
The AN SEQ3 was used against close in targets and for sure one should be careful about nay saying future developments based on current technologies and capabilities, I think the laser for long distance is going to have a big challange with targeting accuracy. Missiles either active or passive radar get more accurate the closer to the target, then have a big explode fragmentation warhead to help minimize final positional uncertainty.

I don’t see why darkness would be an issue; if anything, a laser might be better in the dark than in the light.

We are talking about detecting and ranging the target so you can aim the laser at it and fire accurately.

Although I guess if you can build a sufficiently powerful laser to zap an aircraft you could also use it or another powerful laser as a Lidar type solution assuming the target reflects well enough.

Generally, if radar can find it, a (relatively) low power laser is “locked” on the target using lidar techniques and the main weapon can follow that.

Now that ship defense is being discussed. Lasers have a big advantage over kinetic weapons in defense against small boats. They can be used to deter or destroy, depending on how much power is in the beam (this was actually an early demonstration).

An, as a final thought, when discussing counter measures, remember that the weapon beam power is such that the first pulse is perfectly capable of creating a “hole” in smoke or vapor and the following pulse can then hit with full impact.

So, this is a 2020’s style death ray then?

I suspect that it’d be fairly easy to make retroreflectors that are sufficiently aerodynamic (if nothing else, just put a smooth transparent coating over them). The bigger problem is that retroreflectors would make a plane much, much easier to detect via LIDAR or similar systems. And even with the best retroreflectors you can make, you probably couldn’t reflect back enough to damage the attacking weapon, at realistic ranges (if nothing else, you’d have twice the range for the beam to spread out over). You’d be much better off just trying to reflect the beam to “anywhere that’s not here”.

When I proposed corner reflectors, I said to put them on projectiles, not planes. I’m thinking of a missile with the front end covered with them that gets real close to the laser weapon. Doesn’t have to hit, although it could. If it doesn’t, it would neutralize the laser weapon and let another missile hit.