Would a laser air defense system be cheaper then a missile defense system.

Discussion in 'Military' started by Matthew, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. Matthew
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    Matthew Blue dog all the way!

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    Would a laser air defense system be cheaper then a missile air defense system. One advantage to this would be that we don't have to make "missiles" to move onto the platforms, be it ships or ground based air defense missile bases.

    What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  2. RoccoR
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    RoccoR Gold Member

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    Matthew, et al,

    I don't think we have enough data yet.

    (COMMENT)

    There are several variables that we need to take into consideration.

    • The rate of recharge and fire.
    • The damage inflicted and range.
    • The target lock mechanism - how fast it can acquire and track.

    Anyway you go, it is expensive.

    The interesting aspect is that at some point, the traditional intercept weapons, made popular in the 20th Century, will be surpassed in the 21st Century. It is all a matter of who does the work.

    Most Respectfully,
    R
     
  3. Matthew
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    Matthew Blue dog all the way!

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    Rheinmetall's 50kW high-energy laser weapon successfully passes tests
    Rheinmetall's 50kW high-energy laser weapon successfully passes tests

     
  4. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    With a laser defense system the enemy would just launch on a cloudy rainy day.
     
  5. Mushroom
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    Mushroom VIP Member

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    Actually, for the time being "Laser Air Defense" is pretty much a science-fiction dream.

    For one, there are simply far to many issues to it working in the first place. Largest of which is "Thermal Blooming", where the heat of the LASER itself reacts with the atmosphere (and dust and water vapor in the atmosphere) so that the air itself heats, spreading the beam and making it not effective. This is especially a problem with the high-energy LASERS that would be used as a weapon.

    During the "Star Wars" era, the SOviets wasted a lot of time and money on this kind of research, and effectively poured it into a black hole. Where as the US researched LASERS for tracking and guidence, and kinetic payloads for the killer projectile.

    Secondly, such a system would not be portable at all. We can take all of our active missile systems and drop them anywhere in the world, and they would be operational within hours of arrival. I doubt that such a LASER system would be portable at all.

    And finally, there is the altitude it could reach. With our current missile systems (SM3), we can intercept a target while it is still in space. We have even destoryed satellites with it at over 133 miles above the surface. I doubt we will ever get LASERS with that capability.
     
  6. Mushroom
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    Uhhh, yea. And here is the part you left off...

    This might be great for C-RAM, but I would not want it for air defense! Detection at 3 miles? Destruction at 1ΒΌ miles? That is way to close for comfort if the inbound missile has an explosive, or especially if it has a chemical warhead.

    And if it is a nuclear warhead, odds are that is about the area that it would be detonating at. So miss once and you are a crispy critter.
     
  7. SteadyMercury
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    SteadyMercury Gold Member

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    Laser systems as air defense system will come as technology continues to improve, it seems every couple years they make a minor leap in what they can do. From destroying a stationary object, to knocking down a drone, to hitting an incoming mortar shell, etc.

    The comparison to SM3's range isn't fair, that is a weapon designed specifically to destroy ballistic missiles. It isn't an anti-aircraft system, it uses an exo-atmoshperic kinetic warhead and sensors that are designed to work in space. A laser system won't have that range, but neither will the US Navy's premier anti-aircraft missile the SM6.

    One of the biggest challenges with deploying military grade lasers is the power supply required, that is why the Navy will likely lead. A warship would be far more practical to deploy laser or railgun weapons than an aircraft or mobile land battery, and if you look at the new Zumwalt destroyer they are building you'll note it has an integrated power system that can provide 10x more power than current destroyers.

    If I had to guess I'd say the first military laser deployment will be on a US Navy ship, and it won't replace the primary anti-aircraft missile battery (ESSM and SM6) but will either replace or complement Phalanx or SeaRam as CIWS vs. incoming antiship missiles and swarming small attack boats.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  8. Mushroom
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    The issue here is what kind of Air Defense are we talking about. SHORAD, HIMAD, THAAD, it is all different. The OP was mixing both SHORAD and HIMAD in his post, and the military uses 2 or more sstems to do that. So when the conversation was about ballistic missiles, that is HIMAD-THAAD systems like the SM3.

    In the Army for example, we have Stinger-Avenger C-RAM, PATRIOT, and THAAD, as well as even such old systems as the M-2 .50 cal. But each has their own area of operation. You do not fire PATRIOT at low flying helicopters, you do not fire C-RAM at ballistic missiles.

    In over 50 years of R&D, we are still at the point where it may work for SHORAD, but is still nowhere near the use for other purposes. So I doubt we will see LASERS of use for air defense for anthing beyond C-RAM for at least another 30-50 years.
     
  9. SteadyMercury
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    I wouldn't predict anything lasers being ineffective at short range air defense for another 30 years, thats a long time and they are already knocking things down with 'em.

    But that is why we guess, who knows? :D
     
  10. whitehall
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    whitehall Gold Member

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    Granted the Pentagon is full of fat assed political appointees and the administration is full of do-do's who don't know a missile from a mussel but somewhere along the line the fools who make the rules must have come across the neat laser pointers and connected the dots. In other words if the shit worked we would probably be developing it or paying some other country to develop it.
     

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