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Old April 10 2013, 04:50 AM   #10
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Re: US Navy installing laser on ship to shoot down drones!

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
At first I was like, but then I was like...

Sure it's the 21st century, about damn time the lazer guns showed up. But then I was reading the PDF doc about it. I don't know...

On the plus side, laser weapons have unlimited ammo as long as the ship can generate electricity--which I suppose is better than a limited amount of conventional missile ammo.

On the plus side, laser weapons cost about $1 per shot versus thousands or millions of dollars per missile.

However... lasers are limited to line-of-sight, which makes it a close-in weapon only. So much modern weaponry is beyond-visual range, over the horizon. Lasers aren't.

And lasers (at least this model) have a limited range of about one mile, and larger models may have a ten mile range. Conventional weapons far exceed that limit now.

Also, the lasers are line-of-sight weapons, whereas conventional weapons (say an anti-missile interceptor) can independently launch and maneuver and track a target.

The lasers don't just make conventional weaponry obsolete at all. It offers up a varying array of abilities and options.

Very interesting development.
I think it never was intended as an offensive, beyond visual range weapon but as a CIWS system that protects ships and installations from small, agile targets.

In that role it will perform quite well i think once it's tested out to death and replaces systems such as Phalanx.

Where it is superior to defense missiles is that it instantenously hits the target (provided the mechanism and targeting system locks onto the target properly and the laser is correctly aligned) so there is no need for expensive seeking missiles.. all you need is to keep it targetted for those few moments until the laserbeam cuts into the missile.

I don't know about the planned power of such systems so i can't judge how much time such a laserbeam would need to take out an antiship or cruise missile.. is a single powerful pulse enough or does it take a second or more of continious fire to burn through?

Anyway this is just a natural progression, it will save costs in the long run apparently and may become the primary defense system in a decade or so.
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