Does the USAF really have this superweapon?

I read (in a copy of New Scientist a few weeks old) that the USAF was going to fit the F22 with an infra red laser. This would enable it to attack ground and air targets with a very high accuracy eg target tyres or cockpits. Is this weapon feasible? I thought the idea was that the atmosphere ruined any chance of power or accuracy with such a weapon.

I though the laser was a guide for misssles

which beggs the question if we can use lasers through the atmosphere for guidance why not for energy weapons?

Because a laser weapon would require several orders of magnitude more energy in order for it to do any harm. And that energy’s gotta come from somewhere.

OK found the magazine. Its a 100Kw infrared laser for the F35 although it will also be fitted to older fighters.It would fire in two four second bursts, cool for 30secs and then fire again. It mentions targeting not only electronics but tyres and fuel tanks. Its mentioned because it isn’t banned by the UN because it isn’t designed specificcaly to blind people but reflections can do serious damage to the human eye. Unfortunatly there are no sites mentioned for furthur analysis. I was just wondering where this wepaon came from, it seems awfully advanced all of a sudden.


It’s not the accuracy, it’s the power.

Is this the article you are referencing?

Damn, pretty cool stuff.

I believe I read an article saying they’ve even refitted a simulation trainer to teach pilots how to use the new weapon. There’s supposedly a big push from the DoD to research and develop new energy weapons. I know that the navy wants to eliminate steam from it’s fleet in the near future and have an entirely electric powered force, complete with electro magnetic catapults on the carriers and possibly even rail guns.

Looks like another god weapon to me.

Why would the Geneva Convetion ban weapons designed specifically to blind? As brutal as blinding people sounds, it seems far better than killing them. As long as reasonable precautions against civilian casualties are employed, blinding an enemy soldier seems a far more humane (and possibly more effective) method of nutralization than putting a bullet through his chest.

For the record, I think all warfare is barbaric and inhumane. But I think nonlethal methods of combat are far preferable to lethal ones.

Blinding is considered worse then killing

Perhaps the OP already knows about this, but there already is an airborne laser program in advanced development, built on the 747 platform. While the system is being billed as an anti-missile defence, I see no technical reason why it could not be used to destroy aircraft or soft-skinned ground vehicles at short range.

El_Kabong: I’m familliar with that laser system and it’s immense power source (hudrogen peroxide reacion cells). I think the reason they specifically plan it for use againse ,issile systems is two-fold: Most missiles follow a specific and predicatble arc from time of launch, and those planes are designed to patrol specific areas on conjunction with AWACS or ground spotters. enemy planes could somewhat easily evade spotting, but ground launched missiles follow a more predictable route.

I’m curious about how they plan on putting a sufficiently powerful laser on a fighter jet when the power system for the 747 is so huge yet according to the report on it, it requires about the same amount of coolin/recharge time as mentioned for the smaller system.

Is that what Paul Newman uses to bleach his hair? :slight_smile:

So remember kids, if you accidentally blind someone in combat, please make sure to kill them as a courtesy, and for your own protection.

That’s one monster of a laser! I work with industrial infrared lasers on a daily basis. The most powerful one I’ve seen for sale is a 12kW CO2 laser. Whatever this thing is, it’s a lot more powerful than anything normally used for industrial purposes, and it sounds like it’s probably a ND:YAG laser. It would be pretty large - a 4kW laser typically is about the size of a home refrigerator, and weighs a little more than a tonne.

A 4kW laser, when focused down to a tiny spot, can blow a hole through a half inch of steel in a fraction of a second, and the effects on organic material are usually even more drastic. A burst from the laser the article talks about would probably blow a hole the size of a baseball in armor plating, and the vaporized metal would then burst into flames, doing a considerable amount of damage. Anyone unfortunate enough to stare into this beam wouldn’t just be blinded - he’d be lobotomized or possibly even decapitated. You can’t come up with goggles that can take a direct hit.

That’s a really wicked weapon there. But as General Sherman said, war is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.

Well, it did say the diameter of the affected area was about 30cm, so I assume that would attenuate the intensity of the beam a great deal compared to a pinpoint focus. It seems tha main concern is not a direct hit, but reflections. I think if you got shot in the face with this sucker, you’d have more to worry about than blindness.

Of course the difference is that the only lasers banned are those intended specifically to blind people as their main function. After all nuclear weapons blind people too, and they are perfectly legal, at least for the established nuclear powers.

The “ideal” weapon doesn’t kill. It merely causes severe injury. Killing 5000 soldiers means that you’re short 5000 soldiers. Severely wounding 5000 soldiers means you’re short 5000 soldiers plus all the personnel and supplies necessary to take care of them.

For this purpose, blinding and causing serious, though not fatal, burns would be perfect. The casualties require extensive medical care and without intensive training, are unable to care for themselves even after they have recovered.

Blinding laser weapons have been in use for many years now. Both Royal Navy and Russian naval vessels have had laser weapons fitted to blind pilots of attacking aircraft; I remember seeing photos of the RN laser mounts in an old Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Russian lasers hit the headlines when the pilot of a US Navy P-3 was blinded some years ago and a minor diplomatic storm erupted.

I imagine it’s against the spirit of the Geneva Convention in that it’s a weapon purely designed to maim, to cause serious injury without killing.

Well, according to the ABL web site, power of the 747-mounted weapon is in the “megawatt range”, compared to the 100kW of the fighter-mounted laser. I suppose that counts for some of the difference, though it still seems like the fighter weapon is immensely powerful for its size and weight.