Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Imagine this

On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to tragic deaths of all seven crew members. On 9 June 1986, The Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident published findings attributing the accident to failure of an O-ring seal, which allowed hot gases under pressure to melt and disintegrate the adjacent fuel tank.
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M.E. had thought an invisible, high-power, submarine-fired CO2 laser might have been another possibility, because sucl invisible lasers were available in 1986, and might be a very good match for nuclear sub power systems.
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Do lasers make good weapons for surface to surface platforms? Not very good at all. While the latest USN laser turkey shoot of aerial drones proved surface to air feasibility, lasers are more limited than say cruise missiles for targets over the horizon (not due to effective laser ranges). Remember, lasers follow a straight line that does not bend with the earth's curvature. Consequently, surface-to-surface laser weapons would be limited to well below a 40 mile range.
There are better alternatives.
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For submarine to air or space, however, a submarine laser might be a particularly effective as well as deniable weapon.
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For the kilometer-range terror and pirate menace however, surface-to-surface lasers might be an awesome deterrent. A relatively low-power laser beam could set alight wood or fiberglass hulls, fuel or vulnerable weapons from stand-off distances of a kilometer or more, according to a May 14 Scientific American article.
Navy planners are interested in using lasers in to help naval vessels fend off potential attacks by squadrons of small boats, citing an incident that occurred in early 2008 in the Strait of Hormuz (a waterway connecting the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf). "The MLD system we are under contract to build for [the U.S. Office of Naval Research] will be scalable to a variety of power levels," according to Northrop spokesman Bob Bishop. "That means that laser power can be added—or subtracted—to meet the level of response necessary to address the threat, all within the same modular laser weapon system." source

Submarines, one of the most potent platforms in the arsenal of democracy, may be omitted from the defense calculus publicly, but that is not or will not be the case secretively.
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Submarines are always silent and strange.

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3 Comments:

At 10 August, 2010 23:11, Blogger NavyCS said...

Are there laser detection methods? Could, for example, the Chinese detect a laser blast (either by satellite, land base or ship board system) that takes down an aircraft near N. Korea?

 
At 11 August, 2010 00:37, Blogger Vigilis said...

Yes, laser beams (high-energy, directed light) can certainly be detected provided a detector is either in the direct path, or the beam is visible, reacts with or is sufficiently dispersed by molecules in the beam path as a heat gradient, for instance.

 
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