lasers

Air Force artwork of a future dogfight with lasers.

PENTAGON: Star Wars fans, calm down. The US Air Force wants to fire a 100-plus-kilowatt laser from a small plane. And not just any airplane, Air Force Research Laboratory officials. The last laser on an airplane — the megawatt Airborne Laser, which filled a converted 747 and cancelled in 2011 — the 2022 demonstration will be… Keep reading →

Experimental Navy laser

WASHINGTON: How do you stop 1,000 missiles? Current missile defenses can’t. They’re designed to stop a small attack from a rogue state. But even rogue states like North Korea — let alone power players like China’s Second Artillery — can now throw more missiles at us than we have interceptors to shoot them down. That’s why the military, industry,… Keep reading →

Navy rail gun test

WASHINGTON: Rail gun bullets move seven times the speed of sound. Laser beams fire at the speed of light. But Pentagon procurement? Not so fast. But with both Congress and the Navy Secretary expressing impatience, the Navy is accelerating its efforts to move both lasers and rail guns from the test phase into the fleet. “We’ve… Keep reading →

An Avenger-class minesweeper at work

This is the third in our exclusive series on the crucial but neglected question of sea mines and how well — or not — the United States manages this global and very real threat. Here we’re looking at the most promising technologies, ships and aircraft that can give the United States the edge in this crucial and complex battle.… Keep reading →

Afzal Rob LMCO laser fellow

CRYSTAL CITY: In three years the US military could have a prototype laser weapon blasting out 300 kilowatts of energy, a jump that could ignite a revolution in missile defense, a Lockheed Martin engineer told me today, A 300-kw laser could kill cruise missiles. For comparison, that’s 10 times the power output of the Laser Weapons System… Keep reading →

Army Patriot missile launch

ARLINGTON: Hitting a bullet with a bullet is an astounding feat. But now that US missile defenses can do it routinely, we’re realizing it’s not enough. As technology spreads around the world, more countries are getting larger numbers of more capable missiles. A cash-strapped America can’t afford to shoot down each incoming threat with a… Keep reading →

Collaboration Addresses AFSOC Need for Functional Spotting Charge

WASHINGTON: Sometimes smart bombs aren’t the smart choice. Sometimes you just need a big bad flying gun. That’s why the aging AC-130 gunship is still revered by ground troops for its ability to fire a 105mm cannon — a weapon normally mounted on light tanks. That’s why the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt.… Keep reading →

ssn695

WASHINGTON: Submarines have been America’s invisible advantage since World War II. But the oceans are getting more transparent. New detection technologies from low-frequency sonar to flashing LEDs — plus the big data computing power to enhance the faint signals they pick up — are making submarines much easier to detect. The same water-penetrating wavelengths, however, will… Keep reading →

US Navy photo

PENTAGON: The age of laser weapons has officially begun. Since September, the Navy has had a $40 million, 30-kilowatt Laser Weapons System (LaWS) aboard the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf. “They’re using it every single day,” said the Chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. Sailors — not contractors or engineers — perform basic… Keep reading →

US Army photo

CAPITOL HILL: Where do ground forces fit in the Pentagon’s new offset strategy? The answer may be an intriguing mix of old-fashioned armored forces, mobile missile launchers, and lasers on trucks. While Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s remarks formally launching “offset” were frustratingly vague, we’ve heard plenty from other officials and outside thinkers about how the… Keep reading →

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