Raytheon Fiber Laser

Spy Drone Killer


Thanks to Senior Chief Sid Busch for finding this story.

New Laser Weapon Blasts Spy Drones Out of the Sky

A   Raytheon-U.S. Navy team is working to add a solid-state laser to the   Phalanx Close-in Weapon System.

This photo/ illustration by Raytheon depicts their laser weapon built to shoot down unmanned aircraft.  If you think it looks remarkably like the Phalanx CIWS Close In Weapons System, you're uses the same tracking system.

Fiber-optic lasers are emerging as promising candidates for future weapons-grade solid-state laser systems on jet fighters, land vehicles, and perhaps even man-portable systems. 

The following video clip is a test firing the company carried out in May of 2010 – The weapon successfully downed four drones over the Pacific Ocean off San Nicolas Island, the naval weapons proving ground off the coast of California during tests conducted with the U.S. Navy this spring.  Ed note:  You'd think any company capable of shooting down a drone with a light beam would have a video that didn't look like Flash Gordon.

Related color video

The “solid-state fiber laser” is capable of taking out mortar rounds, rockets, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), and even small surface ships by emitting a destructive 50-kilowatt beam of light.  Far removed from the first chemical reaction lasers produced several decades ago, Raytheon’s solid-state laser consists of six industrial-strength beams that are produced by channeling extreme amounts of energy through glass or ceramic materials. 

July 19, 2010 --

"One of the Navy's problems is that the bad guys have unmanned aircraft now -- they can give away ships' positions," explained Mike Booen, a Raytheon official, "So we wanted to do a more real-world test of the laser over water."

The test involved tracking the drones with sensors used as part of a Raytheon-built ship defense system, and then destroying the aircraft using a high-powered fiber laser.

"The Raytheon-Navy team demonstrated the systems' capability to detect, track, engage and defeat dynamic targets at tactically significant ranges in a maritime environment," said Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems.

The idea of laser weapons has been around for decades, but so far few ideas have progressed beyond testing. Scientists have long struggled with creating a device that can produce enough power to be useful but packaged in a system that is compact enough to be deployed.  There's no word from Raytheon, however, on how soon such a weapon would actually be ready for use.

More about Fiber Lasers

Fiber lasers, like the type Raytheon is using, have been gaining traction in recent years as a possible weapon candidate because of their efficiency, which makes them less complex and more compact than other types of lasers.  Fiber lasers even have the potential to edge-out other solid-state laser approaches such as slab lasers and free-electron lasers, say experts at Nufern, a specialty optical- fiber manufacturer in East Granby, Conn. 

Fiber lasers are more efficient, more easily cooled, small and lightweight, and relatively straightforward to scale up in power, which strengthens their position for future laser weapons programs, says Michael O'Connor, product line manager of laser products at Nufern.

Up to now, weapons-grade lasers primarily have been large, complicated devices capable of operating on large platforms such as jumbo jets, surface ships, and large tractor-trailers. Solid-state lasers, however, have the potential in the near term to operate on relatively small platforms such as jet fighters where they could destroy land vehicles, missiles, or other aircraft.

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