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View Full Version : Military lasers can now destroy incoming missles



sdowney717
February 13th, 2010, 12:37 PM
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gUbsTrWjGldnPucsuOUepKR4An-gD9DQTP4G0

Interesting to see how far lasers have come. I wonder if we would ever have enough lasers to destroy all incoming warheads say in a nuclear war. the beauty of this is in the tracking and simply using an energy beam which is instantaneous vs having to target one missle with another.

gn2
February 13th, 2010, 12:40 PM
Developed just in time to be totally obsolete.

Can a laser system differentiate between an airliner and a hijacked airliner?

Utterly pointless waste of money and resources.

Hallvor
February 13th, 2010, 12:43 PM
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gUbsTrWjGldnPucsuOUepKR4An-gD9DQTP4G0

Interesting to see how far lasers have come. I wonder if we would ever have enough lasers to destroy all incoming warheads say in a nuclear war. the beauty of this is in the tracking and simply using an energy beam which is instantaneous vs having to target one missle with another.

Interesting read and great news as more and more hostile states aquire nukes.

cascade9
February 13th, 2010, 12:58 PM
53 billion _just_ for 2004-2009 (and thats 'projected', it would probably be even higher) and its still not going to shoot down a warhead.


Physicist Hans Bethe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Bethe), who worked with Edward Teller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Teller) on both the nuclear bomb and the hydrogen bomb at Los Alamos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Alamos_National_Laboratory), claimed a laser defense shield was unfeasible. He said that a defensive system was costly and difficult to build yet simple to destroy, and claimed that the Soviets could easily use thousands of decoys to overwhelm it during a nuclear attack (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_attack).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative

There are lots of things, not just decoys that can be used to stop the effectiveness of lasers on ICBMs.

IMO SDI (or whatever its called now) breaks more than one international treaty ('Outer Space Treaty 1967, SALT II) as IMO space based lasers are 'weapons of mass destruction' and those treaties, (and possibly others) explicitly state that this is not allowed.

*stops before descending into politics*

sdowney717
February 13th, 2010, 01:11 PM
how well it would work is related to how fast you can track, target and how much energy intensity in a period of time you can bring to bear.
For someone to target your laser defenses they have to be able to find them first, destroy them and then launch an attack.

I see the laser defense for now as mostly for bringing down a few missiles at a time in a limited missile attack not involving global super powers.

pwnst*r
February 13th, 2010, 02:19 PM
Pew Pew!

Kimm
February 13th, 2010, 02:35 PM
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gUbsTrWjGldnPucsuOUepKR4An-gD9DQTP4G0
I wonder if we would ever have enough lasers to destroy all incoming warheads say in a nuclear war.


Interesting read and great news as more and more hostile states aquire nukes.

What you don't realize is that it doesn't make all that much difference if the nuke blows up at ground level or in the sky. Sure, if it hits the ground lots of people would probably die instantly, and for years to come, children would be born with genetic conditions caused by radioactive material from the bomb. But, if blown up higher in the atmosphere, the radioactive material would spread god knows how far and probably kill about as many people in the long run anyway. And remember that the earth is curved, so if a nuke is launched from the other side of the earth, you cant shoot it down over the attackers either. In any case, blowing up a nuke high into the atmosphere would have huge political implications, since no one wants that waste on their soil.

Grenage
February 13th, 2010, 02:44 PM
What you don't realize is that it doesn't make all that much difference if the nuke blows up at ground level or in the sky.

If it hits the ground, you have a near-guaranteed explosion, it it gets taken out in the air then it might just hit the ground and not explode. I'd like to think that the chaps behind the project are quite smart, and have considered such obvious issues.

MooPi
February 13th, 2010, 02:47 PM
What you don't realize is that it doesn't make all that much difference if the nuke blows up at ground level or in the sky. Sure, if it hits the ground lots of people would probably die instantly, and for years to come, children would be born with genetic conditions caused by radioactive material from the bomb. But, if blown up higher in the atmosphere, the radioactive material would spread god knows how far and probably kill about as many people in the long run anyway. And remember that the earth is curved, so if a nuke is launched from the other side of the earth, you cant shoot it down over the attackers either. In any case, blowing up a nuke high into the atmosphere would have huge political implications, since no one wants that waste on their soil.
I'm sorry but your argument has a gaping hole. Nukes are detonated by proximity or just before impact. Actually they can be detonated just about wherever it is designed. But the critical point is they have a predetermined detonation point which can be assumed to be near impact for maximized damage. If an ICBM is destroyed in flight the critical matter is never detonated and the only irradiation is localized and not near the extent if the bomb had detonated. Bad either way but not to the extent your were supposing.

blueshiftoverwatch
February 13th, 2010, 02:49 PM
What you don't realize is that it doesn't make all that much difference if the nuke blows up at ground level or in the sky...But, if blown up higher in the atmosphere, the radioactive material would spread god knows how far and probably kill about as many people in the long run anyway...In any case, blowing up a nuke high into the atmosphere would have huge political implications, since no one wants that waste on their soil.
Even if the nuke was detonated (which wouldn't happen) if it were destroyed with a laser before it hit it's target. I doubt it would cause that much damage. The US, USSR, and other countries have detonated numerous bombs and we're not all walking around with three arms yet.

Wouldn't detonating a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere basically turn it into an EMP though?

RATM_Owns
February 13th, 2010, 02:59 PM
Speak of mutually assured destruction...

sdowney717
February 13th, 2010, 03:34 PM
the way these things are constructed, just destroying the missile in flight would have it fall to the ground in a few pieces, but I think the core of the device would not release any or little radiation. It wont explode although I suppose you could design the missile to explode if it sensed it was under a laser attack. The nuclear material is encased in a shaped charge. The charge has to have an explosion all around it to set it off and the core is likely pretty strong. It has to to be to set off the bomb and get the nuclear reaction going.

forrestcupp
February 13th, 2010, 03:42 PM
It appears that President Reagan's Star Wars program has finally come to fruition.

You can learn about the creation of this laser in the 1980's movie, Real Genius. :)


It wont explode although I suppose you could design the missile to explode if it sensed it was under a laser attack.
In that case, they would probably want to take it out over the middle of the ocean.

JDShu
February 13th, 2010, 03:45 PM
Now I have taken statistics and read xkcd but... its a little bit amusing to see that the breakthrough was made after the project's budget was cut.

iponeverything
February 13th, 2010, 04:02 PM
Developed just in time to be totally obsolete.

Can a laser system differentiate between an airliner and a hijacked airliner?

Utterly pointless waste of money and resources.

I agree, and seriously, how hard is going to be come up with a way to defeat the system, look mom a flying disco ball!

MooPi
February 13th, 2010, 04:45 PM
If you can determine that you want to shoot down a mosquito and not butterflies, Then I suppose you can differentiate between an airliner and an ICBM.
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/using-lasers-to-zap-mosquitoes/?hp

gn2
February 13th, 2010, 06:11 PM
Has the USA ever come under ICBM attack?

No.

Has the USA ever been attacked by hijacked airliners?

Yes.

So it's a fact that airliners are more dangerous than ICBMs.

sdowney717
February 13th, 2010, 06:36 PM
After 911 incidents, if the US govt knew an airliner was hijacked and someone made the decision it was a serious threat would they not just shoot it down?

In the past I have mused that planes should have a pilot override control system to force a landing in case the plane is compromised.

blueshiftoverwatch
February 13th, 2010, 06:40 PM
Has the USA ever come under ICBM attack? No.
Has the USA ever been attacked by hijacked airliners? Yes.

So it's a fact that airliners are more dangerous than ICBMs.
That depends on how you assess threats and isn't a cut and dry analysis. If an airliner is hijacked and flown into a building at most several thousand people will die. If a nuclear missile hits a city at least several hundred thousand will die. So, while the an airline hijacking might be more likely. A nuclear attack would be far more catastrophic if it were to occur.

audiomick
February 13th, 2010, 06:43 PM
... The nuclear material is encased in a shaped charge. The charge has to have an explosion all around it to set it off ...

So heating the missile with a laser until it falls apart wont set off the charge?
I have my doubts...
And even if it doesn't, if the missile is hot enough to fall apart, surely the warhead will disintegrate and spread the nuclear material around quite nicely.

What about spending that stupid amount of money to defuse discontent in the world instead of to build a better weapon than the other guy?

ramblinche81
February 13th, 2010, 07:10 PM
So heating the missile with a laser until it falls apart wont set off the charge?
I have my doubts...
And even if it doesn't, if the missile is hot enough to fall apart, surely the warhead will disintegrate and spread the nuclear material around quite nicely.

What about spending that stupid amount of money to defuse discontent in the world instead of to build a better weapon than the other guy?


I think we/USA have been trying that approach for decades. The reality is we don't know the intentions of rogue states (no specific nation implied). The evidence is there are some pretty intense idealogues in power in sensitive areas.

And what you don't understand, you fear.

During the Cold War, we at least had confidence the other side was as rational and fearful as ourselves. We understood our so called enemy and we both agreed MADD was a reasonable protocol to follow for detterence. No one had the upper hand on survivability....which only works if both sides want to survive by the way.

That isn't the case any longer.

sdowney717
February 13th, 2010, 07:10 PM
So heating the missile with a laser until it falls apart wont set off the charge?

ASFAIK, all the charges have to go off simultaneously and force the material together all at the same time. The specifics of the nuclear timing trigger was a big hurdle to overcome for anyone wanting to make a nuclear bomb.
And the laser simply destroys the outer casing, control systems, propellant pumps of the rocket. It basically looses its integrity and ceases to function as a missile anymore.

audiomick
February 13th, 2010, 07:18 PM
I think we/USA have been trying that approach for decades.
If I were to offer my full opinion on this, the thread would surely get closed for being political. Suffice to say that I have a different view of the world


We understood our so called enemy
brings to mind various discourses over the need for a government to be able to point at a defined enemy figure to consolidate it's power.

I'll bow out now; don't want to be the cause of the thread closing...;)

sdowney717
February 13th, 2010, 07:19 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/06/science/from-fantasy-to-fact-space-based-laser-nearly-ready-to-fly.html?pagewanted=all


The weapon is the chemical laser, which gets its energy from the combustion of fuels similar to those in rocket engines. Though much of its energy is lost as heat, significant amounts can be extracted by mirrors and resonant chambers, emerging as a concentrated beam of light that in theory can flash across space to zap speeding missiles thousands of miles away.

interesting

The laser's beam of concentrated light is designed to produce 2.2 million watts of energy, making it the nation's most powerful military laser, experts outside the Government say. Officially, the power of the beam is secret, with contractors saying only that it is hot enough to melt metal and that the energy intensity at the core of the laser is several times that of the surface of the sun.

jflaker
February 13th, 2010, 07:22 PM
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gUbsTrWjGldnPucsuOUepKR4An-gD9DQTP4G0

Interesting to see how far lasers have come. I wonder if we would ever have enough lasers to destroy all incoming warheads say in a nuclear war. the beauty of this is in the tracking and simply using an energy beam which is instantaneous vs having to target one missle with another.

With Laser weapons, you only need a few to destroy many incoming bullistics. One laser, which has line of sight *(Nukes fly to the edge of space to escape the terminal velocity limits of flying in the atmosphere and therefore are very visible to ground system and NOT out of range like you would be with bullistic defenses) to the incoming bullistics. You can fire multiple times and you don't need to wait for YOUR bullistic to meet up with the incoming one to make sure you have a hit.

You can color your incoming bullistics with triangulated radar and be pretty much on target

THUS, the concern for militarizing space...With space based lasers, you can literally destroy the enemy's bullistic weapons on launch, while sitting in their silos or destroy nuclear or military installations with never needing to step foot on enemy soil.

jflaker
February 13th, 2010, 07:31 PM
Developed just in time to be totally obsolete.

Can a laser system differentiate between an airliner and a hijacked airliner?

Utterly pointless waste of money and resources.

Yes....When a pilot properly activates their hijack alert and usually that airliner will start wandering off course.

Flight 93 over Pennsylvania was suspected of being shot down on 9-11, and if so, would be the first and hopefully the last time a civilian aircraft will need to be brought down by our own military. The only other time this was to be an option was Payne Stewart's private jet went off course and was confirmed to be unmanned due to possible decompression of the aircraft which likely killed everyone on board before the plane ran out of fuel.

A weapon system should never be left to determine whether a aircraft (missile or actual aircraft) is friend or foe..too many things can go wrong.

yester64
February 13th, 2010, 08:34 PM
That depends on how you assess threats and isn't a cut and dry analysis. If an airliner is hijacked and flown into a building at most several thousand people will die. If a nuclear missile hits a city at least several hundred thousand will die. So, while the an airline hijacking might be more likely. A nuclear attack would be far more catastrophic if it were to occur.


Since the topic goes around impacts, than laser, here is my take on it.

Politician are great on generating fear and convince everyone that it is important to have a defence system. Implying that it is manageable to avoid an attack with warheads.
Starwars defence had shown how overwhelmed this system is and how likely it will fail.
The latest test (just a month ago) was a failure and cost billions of dollars.
I believe people are somewhat paranoid if it comes to attacks. If there were an attack it would not matter anyway since the planet would be covered in radiation.
Beside, this country would certainly start a retaliation attack.

So Lasertechnology might be improved but what is the gap between wish and reality? You can not prevent to being hit. Period. So no matter how good of a defence you have, it will not prevent disaster.
Anyone who believes otherwise is just a fool.

Mr. Picklesworth
February 13th, 2010, 09:20 PM
Interesting read and great news as more and more hostile states aquire nukes.

Personally, I have trouble seeing bigger defences as great news. It inevitably means bigger guns (or more nukes to increase chances), which means more collateral damage affecting people and things (heck, countries) who don't deserve it.

If we had just settled on muskets, cannons and the odd fire, war would be a lot less destructive.

Having said that, if these guys are really clever, they'll offer to set up the system everywhere and war will gradually devolve to an automated struggle with disarmed nukes and lasers duking it out in the air (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MvNXg2n1-g). (And if that link doesn't like where you live it did that to me it's a classic Star Trek episode: "A Taste of Armageddon").

Woolio1
February 13th, 2010, 09:46 PM
53 billion _just_ for 2004-2009 (and thats 'projected', it would probably be even higher) and its still not going to shoot down a warhead.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative

There are lots of things, not just decoys that can be used to stop the effectiveness of lasers on ICBMs.

IMO SDI (or whatever its called now) breaks more than one international treaty ('Outer Space Treaty 1967, SALT II) as IMO space based lasers are 'weapons of mass destruction' and those treaties, (and possibly others) explicitly state that this is not allowed.

*stops before descending into politics*

Makes me wonder... Are those laws in place just to make sure Humanity completely dies out in event of Nuclear War?

ramblinche81
February 13th, 2010, 10:11 PM
If I were to offer my full opinion on this, the thread would surely get closed for being political. Suffice to say that I have a different view of the world


brings to mind various discourses over the need for a government to be able to point at a defined enemy figure to consolidate it's power.

I'll bow out now; don't want to be the cause of the thread closing...;)

Yes, an in depth conversation could lead to closing the thread given the expectations for benevolence in all discussions and avoidance of political harshness.

I was very careful in my choice of words..we have been trying (in our own unique and American way) and obviously not succeeding. I didn't say we were good at it (partner with other cultures) or had taken the true moral high ground with honorable intentions. That is just politics and egos (bad side of human nature) at play on both sides of the negotiating and antagonizing.

I doubt resolution will ever be truly reached because each side claims they are on the side of rightousness based on a unique set of spiritual based values which are not shared.

mkvnmtr
February 13th, 2010, 10:20 PM
Much more important and more use to mankind they have also developed a lazer that will shoot down mosquitos but maybe that would be better discussed in another thread.

forrestcupp
February 15th, 2010, 12:25 AM
I don't get the people who say this is obsolete.

The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China are all still nuclear powers. On top of that, India, Pakistan, and North Korea all have nuclear warheads without being a part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. On the border of India and Pakistan, every day they have a display of powers and they are just waiting for the other one to start something.

Iran is working quickly to create weapons grade plutonium and will more than likely be a nuclear power soon. Iran openly hates Israel, which is another nation that is strongly suspected to have active nuclear warheads.

With tensions getting worse and not better in this world, you guys really think that this is obsolete?

red_Marvin
February 15th, 2010, 04:01 AM
I assume the next step is to put booby traps checking the hull integrity on nuclear warheads, in order to make the political and moral (probably in that order) implications of targeting a warhead outside the defenders border more severe.

hobo14
February 15th, 2010, 04:10 AM
EDIT: redundant post deleted

yester64
February 15th, 2010, 04:15 AM
I don't get the people who say this is obsolete.

The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China are all still nuclear powers. On top of that, India, Pakistan, and North Korea all have nuclear warheads without being a part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. On the border of India and Pakistan, every day they have a display of powers and they are just waiting for the other one to start something.

Iran is working quickly to create weapons grade plutonium and will more than likely be a nuclear power soon. Iran openly hates Israel, which is another nation that is strongly suspected to have active nuclear warheads.

With tensions getting worse and not better in this world, you guys really think that this is obsolete?

Hard to tell, but the main conclusion is, that there is no fool proof shielding against treats like this. So even if Lasers would work in theory, that does not mean that they work in the real world to avoid any attack.

Besides, there are only a couple of countries that are a treat. Which is China. All others are not having long range missles that can hit the US unless you count allies to the treat.