~e; laser-tagged

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Sat, 16 Feb 2002 22:25:20 -0600





  [the following has been announced in 2000 during successful trials, it seems,
  mounting a laser-weapon in the nosecone or on some turret in the front of the
  plane. think it was once said that a main issue with this
technology, especially
  the space-based warfare this may signal, is that the spread of the beam of
  light-energy is hard to control over vast differences, something about the
  type of crystal being used, ruby red or not, and the vibrations on the plane,
  i would imagine to also be relevant. this type of EM warfare could not be a
  possibility without GPS systems and satellite technology, as an airplane doing
  figure-8 or circles around a target, and then keeping a laser
(non-lethal even,
  so could be used for civil unrest actions as the ground skin-heating wavegun
  does, potentially) on target in the instability of the windy atmosphere and
  going at high speeds in imperfect geometries. definitely a network warfare-
  centric technology, or decentralized network node for warfare interfacing.]

America's laser of death cleared for take-off

By Sean Rayment (Filed: 17/02/2002)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/02/17/wbush217.xml&sSheet=/news/2002/02/17/ixworld.html

AMERICA'S enemies will soon face a weapon, once confined to the Star
Wars films, that can bring death at the speed of light.

The special operations AC-130 Spectre gunship, whose conventional
weaponry has been used to devastating effect since the Vietnam War,
is to be fitted with a laser that can shoot down missiles, punch
holes in aircraft and knock out ground radar stations.

Despite the successful operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda
fighters in Afghanistan, the emergence of asymmetric terrorist
warfare - attacks such as September 11 where the enemy is unseen -
has led the Pentagon to identify the need for a more sophisticated
and deadly weapons system.

The next generation gunship, codenamed AC-X and nicknamed 'Son of
Spectre' by US defence officials, will carry all the weaponry already
used on the AC-130, including twin 20mm Vulcan cannon (capable of
firing 2,500 rounds per minute), 40mm Bofor cannon (100 rounds per
minute) and a 105mm Howitzer. Its 21st-century addition, however,
will be its biggest punch: a chemical oxygen iodine laser (Coil),
capable of carrying out lethal and non-lethal attacks.

The advantage of laser weapons is that they strike at the speed of
light. In the Coil, the power of a chemical reaction is converted to
laser energy, and the weapon can carry on firing as long as its power
source is intact.

Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, has given the
go-ahead for the next-generation AC-130, which includes full funding
for the "integration of a direct-energy weapon".

The Pentagon is yet to announce when the new laser-equipped "Son of
Spectre" will come into operation, but it is understood that the
first upgraded version could be involved in military operations
within two years.

Although lasers exist that can hit aircraft, disable optically guided
missiles and destroy communications lines, the ability to vaporise
enemy troops and vehicles Star Wars-style will take a few more years
to develop.

The Spectre, flown by the 16th Special Operations Squadron, has a
crew of 13, including two observers using television and infra-red
images to direct the four gunners on to their target.

Working in pairs, normally providing close air support for special
forces ground operations, Spectres can circle targets for hours,
pulverising areas the size of football pitches with extraordinary
precision.

The Spectre has, however, come to the end of its operational life and
further upgrades have been ruled out on cost grounds.

Rob Hewson, the editor of Jane's Air Launched Weapons, said: "The
laser will be the atomic weapon of the 21st century. Since the 1970s,
US scientists have conducted a series of secret experiments in the
Nevada desert using lasers.

"We know that they had lasers capable of causing immense damage but
they needed huge power packs. This remains a problem and this is why
a laser weapon can only be fitted on an air frame the size of the
AC-130. But advances will be made and the power plant will shrink and
one day it will dominate the battle field.

"The Americans may already have a very powerful laser weapon far more
advanced than we have seen. They have been carrying out research in
this field for years but it is a very secret weapons programme and we
have no idea how far they have progressed."

Once the Coil and its power plant have been fully developed, the USAF
hopes to fit it to a whole range of manned and unmanned aircraft,
such as the Predator reconnaissance probe, which is fitted with
Hellfire missiles and has been used in CIA operations in Afghanistan.

Lasers could also be used as an additional weapon system to fighters,
bombers, helicopter gunships and warships but this is unlikely for a
decade.

Related reports

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