Senate The Weekly Discussion of Military Technology

Discussion in 'Community' started by Mr44, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. Blue_Jedi33 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2003
    star 5
  2. Darth Mulacki Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 4, 1999
    star 5
    I talked to my borther in law, who used to be a Frogman, about the new helicopters and his assessment is pretty much also, "better to have than not". His view is that we didn't get all the bells and whistles, but that we have the opportunity to upgrade in the future if necessary. The roles of the danish navy could shift in the future, and its better to be ready within months than years for any future missions.
  3. DarthCane Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 4
    There's also the fact that the older SH-60 models aren't in production anymore. Unless you want to buy hand-me-downs from foreign countries (which, like a used car, might have gremlins and in any case will probably need upgrading anyway), you have to order MH-60R/S models.
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, that's pretty interesting stuff. I don't think they're using it, but I know that DARPA has been researching it since at least 2008, (probably long before that, but I remember it from around that time) In the US military it's called "metaflex." The problem that the guy in this link isn't mentioning is that up until now, I don't think the "fabric" can be manipulated very well, and it certainly hasn't been able to be sewn into patterns for clothes. It's always literally been called an "invisibility cloak" because it's just giant square sheets of material. The US looked at it more to cover vehicles because you could just put panels of the stuff on a tank, for example. IIRC, the " light bending" effect comes from the interaction between multiple layers of this material, so it might weigh more than is what is practical from the standpoint of making a shirt or whatnot.

    The pictures in the links show the square panel, but unless this guy has found a new way to cut/manipulate it, it's not going to be used as a replacements for uniforms, unless its a more undefined "blob" kind of ghillie suit/camo poncho. It's also kind of funny to see the guy's flair for the dramatic.. "For reasons of security, I can’t discuss details about how it accomplishes the bending of light but I can explain how it might be used...." Heh, I'm pretty sure it was invented at MIT, through DARPA years prior to this....

    Sure, that's an option, but foreign military sales don't exactly work like that. It's not case of either having to buy an older hand me down or buying the latest version of what's being produced. The MH-60 "shell" would still be used on the production line, but then the final version is assembled based on what the export customer wanted based on capability, avionics, and price point. There are literally a dozen or so export versions of the MH-60 each with their own slight differences. It's the same with example like the Abrams, the F-16, and so on... The point is that country like Denmark doesn't have to buy the MH-60R version unless it wants to.
    Last edited by Mr44, Dec 12, 2012
  5. DarthCane Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 4
    Well, there aren't "dozens of versions" of the MH-60 (at least, not the naval variety; the other MH-60s are the US Army's black-ops transport/attack jobs in Task Force 160); there's two related variants - the -R, which is the multirole ASW/patrol variant, and the -S transport, which takes the engine, drivetrain, and rotors of the Seahawk and mates them to the cargo airframe of the Army's UH-60L Blackhawk. You're thinking of the older SH-60/HH-60, which came in several variants - the -B was equipped to operate off surface escorts, was built under license in Japan as the -J and -K models, and was sold in various marks under the company designations S-70B and -C to multiple foreign navies; the -F was specifically outfitted for operations off US carriers (including replacing most of the sonobuoys with a dipping sonar and removing most of the specialized datalinks); the -H was a transport version for SAR and Special Operations. All of those variants are 20-30 years old. Part of the impetus behind the -R model was to come up with a commonly-outfitted ASW variant for USN surface escorts and carriers.

    Now yeah, in theory you could tell Sikorsky to just take that airframe and leave out a lot of sensors and avionics, but then it becomes a matter of them setting up a special lot on the production floor instead of just grabbing the next nine units off the main line. Furthermore, you would lose interoperability and possibly interchangeable parts between the USN and other users - for instance, one nice benefit is that instead of spending the kroner to set up your own training program, you can send your pilots to the US for training alongside US Navy pilots. Not necessarily possible if your helos have a completely different avionics and equipment suite. Overall, it's a good move - one some other nations are eyeing; Norway for instance is very upset with NHI right now over delays in their order of NH-90 ASW helos. They were supposed to have gotten the full lot four years ago; instead they've received one helicopter, it's still having some issues, and they've already retired their Lynx fleet. They're really tempted to tell NHI to go screw themselves and just order a batch of MH-60Rs.

    Also, not to bash the UK MoD again, but sometimes going for the bells and whistles is the smart move. The Royal Navy's made a habit of ordering ships and aircraft fitted "for but not with" certain systems one might consider key (like say, torpedo tubes, land-attack/antiship missiles, and a close-in missile defense system on their Type 45 destroyers); the result is they end up with something that still costs a lot of money AND can't do a lot of jobs that might be expected of a modern weapons system in that class. Backfitting the stuff down the line is probably going to cost more money in the end than just having it installed on the production line; it's a case of save now, pay more later.
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well, I don't disagree with any of that, but that wasn't my original point. My initial observation was that Denmark just invested in a really expensive helicopter contract, which on its face, looked more robust than it needed to be, so I wondered how they are going to use them? Because it potentially represents a new kind of outward focus for the Royal Danish Military. Your British Royal Navy examples highlight deliberate decisions designed to cut corners, which is a different thing all together.

    To take a specific example, it wouldn't be routine for a Danish helicopter to land on a US ship and just swap out parts simply because they use the same model. In an emergency or other contingency, it would be nice, but it's not a major factor as to why a country would spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a procurement contract to be able to do. For another example focusing on variants, just 2 years ago, Japan initiated a 2.2 billion dollar (That's 190 billion Yen!) contract for 7 new squadrons worth of licensed UH60J helicopters (about 40 helicopters total). Not refurbished models. Not surplus from someone else. The Japanese defense forces specifically wanted their new production models to be based on older specs even though the more expensive/upgraded M model is available. Why? Because the "older" version meets the needs of what Japan wants the helicopter to do, and it's certainly not obsolete based on that role. Japan could still send pilots to the US to train on the newer model, and vice versa, and then still return to fly their specific model. Those helicopters in Japan are going to be used until 2030 or so. It's because military contracts are purpose driven. It's extremely rare for any DOD/MOD to invest resources in a "wait and see" contract. I'm not saying that's "bad" or "good," I'm just pointing out that it's not the norm. For example, what if the Wisconsin National Guard initiated a contract to completely outfit 2 battalions worth of troops with FN SCAR assault rifles? Considering that regular active duty army troops aren't even issued the SCAR, this would represent a major capability shift for the Wisconsin National Guard, so one would have to speculate between the lines, so to speak. The question would become "where are those WNG battalions going to be sent that supports the cost?" It would be very curious. The focus of that question isn't to disparage the SCAR, or suggest that the National Guard get obsolete equipment, but to speculate on what new role comes with the investment. Generally, that's how geo-political trends are tracked.

    My point in even bringing up variants is that realistically, foreign military sales have never been an all or nothing prospect. Denmark could have just as easily said "we really like the performance of the MH60R, but we don't need things like the multi-channel, multi-directional sonar capability, or the Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar, because most of the time, we're simply going to use them against pirates and fishery smugglers..." Sikorsky Corp would have simply plugged the variant into their production schedule to fulfill the contract, and the MH60Dn variant would have been born. I suppose in today's climate it's refreshing for the Royal Danish Military to go for the best example available. But we're still talking about a 690 million dollar/4 billion Kr contract. I don't know the overall size of Denmark's military budget, but it seems like a large slice, which leads me to believe that they have to have a larger role in someone's planning somewhere.
    Last edited by Mr44, Dec 13, 2012
  7. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Well, Denmark/the low countries in general have more frequently been a facilitator for NATO than an actual instrument of foreign policy as far as I'm aware.

    Anyway, found this:

    Pentagon wants new intelligence agency

    This sounds like a duplication/enlargement of what the Intelligence Support Activity/Grey Fox/etc already does. Not really surprised that Congress is skeptical; they're saying budgetary reasons, but I'm sure memories of Iran-Contra and the various crash and burns the Pentagon's spies underwent in the 1980s is in the backs of everyone's minds.
  8. DarthCane Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 4
    Well, look at the specs for their current top-line surface combatants. Look like they might have an eye towards something more than fisheries patrol and pirate-busting?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absalon_class_support_ship

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivar_Huitfeldt_class_frigate

    Also, it's not a case of Danish aircraft "landing on a US vessel and swapping out parts" when I talk about parts commonality - it's the overall logistics chain. Instead of setting aside their own parts order from Sikorsky they can just piggyback onto the USN's procurement and benefit from the economy of scale. In a pinch they can even swap helos with the USN; if one of theirs is lost or has to undergo a factory rebuild they can theoretically ask the USN to send them a reserve airframe and potentially have it up and running that week.
    DarthBoba likes this.
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Except I can tell you with nearly 100% certainty that one country like Denmark isn't going to be piggybacking off of a different country's logistics chain. Unless it's a extremely rare situation like being jointly stationed in a remote area like Thule that only gets supplied once a year, each has their own regulations, requirements and procedures. It's even not all that routine for different branches of the same country's military to piggyback off each other's procurement unless the specs for whatever they are buying are exactly the same and they are authorized to do so. You're forgetting that a helicopter like this is actually the product of a multitude of contractors. Sikorsky is the lead company. But GE makes the engines. Raytheon makes specific electronics...and so on. When Denmark negotiated the contract with Sikorsky through the foreign sales authority, any such contract would include enough spare parts for a reasonable period. In fact, spare parts are frequently a bargaining tool for these large contracts.

    And while it's technically possible I suppose, I've never seen, heard, or experienced anything remotely close to the "swapping of helios." Things like deleting secure codes, securing sensitive equipment, agreeing how it would be used, and removing unit markings would have to happen, and besides all of that, it shows a lot of, eh... trust... to sign off your 30 million dollar helicopter to someone who isn't even in your chain of command. Again, unless it was a unique mission critical circumstance or other emergency, a US Marine couldn't just walk into an US Army base and ask for a Humvee because his was broken, or vice versa, and those are branches of the same military. If Denmark looses something like a helicopter, then the MOD would come up with a contingency for itself.

    Oh, maybe about a month or 2 ago, I supplied an article here which kind of relates to this topic. It detailed how the US, Britain, and Australia finally approved a treaty which streamlines procurement amongst themselves. But that agreement had to be voted on by each country's own Congress/Parliament as well as agreed to by each one's DOD/MOD. It wasn't impossible, but it certainly wasn't easy. Basically, the 3 came to a set arrangement on how such equipment will be used, and export restrictions, and what-not. And perhaps most importantly, it also means that, generally, national borders amongst themselves don't apply when bidding for contracts. But this is a unique agreement among these 3 nations, The true benefits of such a treaty are going to be seen in the longer term, kind of what you detailed above. But even then, it's not like if the ADF crashes a helicopter in Darwin, they're going to call up the RAF and ask to have a spare one sent over from Gloucestershire..

    Yeah, I remember this story. What the Pentagon detailed would be quite effective if it was carried out correctly. Basically, The DOD wants a dedicated intelligence staff everywhere the US military could go, directly under military command. This is more based on the British model, which isn't a bad thing, again, if it works out correctly. Although I can see the skepticism as well. First off, there is going to be a lot of potential infighting with the CIA, because the CIA already has an extensive foreign intelligence network set up independently of military authority. It's kind of like how the Department of Homeland Security was established after 9/11, and then promptly got into a peeing contest with the FBI over who did what.

    I'd like to think the Pentagon has learned some major lessons since the 80's, but you're absolutely correct in that it would be interesting to see how a massive new intelligence network would behave if all it was beholden to was the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or even military theater generals like the commander of CentCom....Personally, I think the Pentagon is going to settle for a less ambitious plan.
  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I agree. Not to mention that the level of effectiveness/cross-pollination the CIA and JSOC have achieved is probably raising a "why?" in the Intelligence Committee's mind, along with the robust in-house abilities we already have in the military. I mean, just our dinky BN and BDE S2s have gotten seriously good at their jobs since 9/11 from what I've seen. Can't imagine how muscular things like the ISA have gotten with the cash spigot on.
  11. DarthCane Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 4
    Eh hem .... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Nickel_Grass

    More recently, you have a number of foreign nations that train their pilots on USAF-owned aircraft based in the US (Luke AFB being a primary example) and a number of US-allied nations have authorization to draw from US ammunition stocks. For instance, much of the ordnance dropped on Libya by NATO aircraft was drawn from US stocks. If you already have a treaty structure in place that allows a Luftwaffe Tornado IDS or Danish F-16 to be wired for a B-61 nuclear bomb and use it under the dual-key system, signing over a $30 million ASW helo is not a big deal.
    Last edited by DarthCane, Dec 13, 2012
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Dude, none of that is not even remotely close to what you've been mentioning in this thread. The US supports allies and arms guerrilla forces during specific conflicts all the time, especially back during the cold war. When the former Soviet Union blockaded Berlin back during 1948, the US flew in hundreds of tons of supplies during what is known as the "Berlin Airlift." But after the mission was completed, and the political goals achieved, it's not like the US spent the next 42 years flying food and candy into Berlin simply so Germany could bypass procurement. As for your Israeli example, do you possibly think there were other concerns in play back during the '73 Arab-Israeli War, or are you honestly suggesting that since the US provided military equipment to Israel during that conflict, that it is an example of how routine defense contracts are handled? All of those other examples are covered under a specific contingency.

    As for the foreign assistance training program, the major benefit of sharing expertise is that each military member experiences what the other allied nations use. A US pilot might fly a Tornado jet. A British pilot might fly an A-10. That familiarization is then taken back to their home country. Such cross training isn't limited to high dollar items. Over in US bases in Germany, German troops qualify with a US M4 carbine, while there is a specific course that US troops can go through to qualify on German small arms. (in this case the G36 assault rifle, MG4 machine gun, and so on.) But the Germany military still selects its own equipment based on the criteria it wants and other political realities. As an example, Germany currently uses the Leopard 2 series of tank. Germany isn't going to replace its Leopard tanks for Abrams tanks just so it's armored core can get training at Ft Knox, Kentucky. Even if Germany wanted such training, it would simply ship over some Leopard tanks and train right along side of their US counterparts. Neither has to drive the exact same thing as the other in order to get training benefits. It is a big deal to just hand over a helicopter. It doesn't happen, and no nation is going to spend hundreds of million dollars on a defense contract just so it can get a free oil pump whenever it sees one of its allies.

    I was thinking the same thing. I was even going to mention how the CIA actually has its own blended paramilitary forces that draw almost exclusively from Special Operations, but that's not exactly the same thing. IIRC, the original proposal was that the Pentagon wanted to drastically increase the size of the DIA-the Defense Intelligence Agency- which doesn't exactly have all that of a stellar reputation. But I also think it has its reputation because the DIA itself is pulled in so many directions, and doesn't have all that clear of a mission. But I'm not so sure what would be specifically gained compared to how much more tailored Battalion and Brigade intelligence assets can be, precisely as you mentioned. Honestly, when I read the original pitch in the news, my first impression was that the Pentagon was making a budget play. So the military is going through a drawdown at the moment, and if X amount of troops are going to be cut, I took it as the Pentagon wanted to gain back some of the lost positions by filling them through this proposal.
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, I'm not even sure what it is the DIA is actually supposed to do-that's not an exaggeration, either. I was thinking about this yesterday and was like "you know, I don't even know what it is they're supposed to do." :p
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well, it publishes a lot of books you have to read if you want to get promoted from Colonel to star rank.

    Not so ironically, the head of the DIA is a 3 star general, so it's set up for an endless, self-fulfilling prophecy.
    DarthBoba likes this.
  15. DarthCane Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 4
    I wasn't suggesting Nickel Grass was a normal case; I should have specified there that I was pointing out that much of the equipment came directly from US units as a counterpoint to your assertion that the US military doesn't just "hand over" inventory to allies. More recently, the Australian F/A-18Fs are leased from the US Navy, just like they leased F-4Es from the USAF from 1970-73 when their order of F-111s was delayed. They were given the option to purchase them, but they turned the offer down due to logistical concerns. Those ex-RAAF Phantoms then went on to serve in the USAF as F-4G Wild Weasel conversions. The foreign assistance training programs I was referring to were not mere familiarization/exchange programs; the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB contains two squadrons (21st FS "Gamblers" and 425th FS "Black Widows") that are the formal training units for Republic of China Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots, respectively. The aircraft are owned by the respective air forces (or are in some cases leased from the USAF) but are based at Luke, fall under USAF Air Education and Training Command, and the squadrons are comprised of USAF and foreign personnel. The 428th FS at Mountain Home AFB is a similar situation, training Republic of Singapore Air Force pilots on the SG version of the F-15 Strike Eagle. The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB will likewise be the training hub for allied F-35 Lightning II pilots. For the allied nations using those programs, it means they don't have to spend the time and resources on their own training programs - just fly the guys over to the US on an airliner, let American instructors train them on equipment based in the US, and then send them straight to an operational unit in their home country. It's a standard part of the contract when exporting weapons systems - for instance, the Saudis don't have training units for their Tornado and Typhoon pilots; the procurement contract also paid for them to be trained in the UK by RAF instructors.

    So yes, nations select equipment based on their national priorities and budgets (another consideration being supporting their own home-based arms manufacturers like AgustaWestland or Eurocopter). But if you don't have the capability to manufacture your own weapons systems, Uncle Sam has already bought that system in quantity (thereby lowering the purchase price due to economies of scale), has paid for and maintains a large stockpile of spare parts, has an established training program in operation, and says you're welcome to use it all as part of the purchase deal, it adds buying incentive. It's a big reason why lots of foreign air forces rushed in to drink the F-35 Kool-Aid, although personally I think that program is a poster child for your remarks about countries buying a weapons system way above and beyond their service needs.

    Just as a side note, it's effing expensive to ship equipment overseas for training. Even the Army and Marines have large stocks of tanks and other armored vehicles that will probably spend their days sitting in prepositioning ships or overseas depots (or conversely, never leave the training range in the US), because it's cheaper to pay for extra vehicles stored close to trouble spots than it is to airmail a bunch of 70-ton Main Battle Tanks to Saudi Arabia from the US and vice versa. Not to mention that in order to get those assets somewhere in an emergency, you either have to bulk up your strategic airlift and sealift capabilities ($$$) or accept it will take months to get reinforcements on the scene.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Just as a side note, it's effing expensive to ship equipment overseas for training. Even the Army and Marines have large stocks of tanks and other armored vehicles that will probably spend their days sitting in prepositioning ships or overseas depots (or conversely, never leave the training range in the US), because it's cheaper to pay for extra vehicles stored close to trouble spots than it is to airmail a bunch of 70-ton Main Battle Tanks to Saudi Arabia from the US and vice versa. Not to mention that in order to get those assets somewhere in an emergency, you either have to bulk up your strategic airlift and sealift capabilities ($$$) or accept it will take months to get reinforcements on the scene.






    That's rather incorrect. Haven't been in a mechanized unit yet, but they do take their armor with them when they deploy. The POMCUS sites are for emergencies, not routine deployment.
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Dec 15, 2012
  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Then you probably shouldn't have post "eh-hem," and then proceeded to use it as an example..... See, my only issue is that you are all over the map. The US, as other countries do, will provide equipment for a specific conflict, or to arm rebels that have shared political goals, and such. For instance, the tanks the US provided to Israel during that example you mentioned-the 73 conflict- were considered to be military aid to Israel. The US wrote off those tanks, and it's not like they sent them over to Israel with the warning "don't let any of these get destroyed in battle, because we're just letting you borrow them..." It's almost the exact opposite of what you originally described. For other examples, being part of NATO, the US may provide material for a specific combined NATO mission., but then other participating nations would do the same according to their committment. Every thing else you described are contained in those specific agreements. Yeah, countries lease equipment all the time, but that arrangement would be covered under the terms of the lease themselves.

    A recent situation with the Philippines is the perfect example here. The US and the Philippines have a mutual defense treaty. The Philippine government wanted to lease certain larger-classed patrol boats from the US Navy. (specifically PC class Cyclone ships) Except the Navy refused, citing policy that says that the US doesn't just lease out active equipment. However, the Navy said that it would donate, through military aid, decommissioned ships that the Philippines could just keep. However, any such aid would have to be approved by Congress, and tallied under the US's total aid of this kind. Or, I suppose, the Philippines could just buy the ships it wants if it budgeted enough, but Philippine's lack of money was the original issue. Regardless, low and behold, the first PC-1, The Cyclone, was decommissioned and permanently transferred to the Philippine navy as part of military aid to the Philippines. (specifically for "anti-terrorism" operations after 9-11, but regardless, it got them a ship) But again, this is a specific agreement under a specific treaty. Your original assertion was that a country like Denmark would buy a helicopter so if one of theirs was disabled/crashed, they would just be able to pop over to a US carrier and "borrow" one. This would never happen. It's not a reason why a country would spend hundreds of million dollars on a contract, and the US doesn't just sign over equipment to other countries.

    But I'm also pretty sure those pre-deployed caches went away after the early 90's when the Soviet Union collapsed. Again, as Boba just mentioned, those were mostly cold war concerns, and if any still exist, they're vastly reduced in number and tasked for specific contingencies or units (such as for a rapid reaction Brigade Combat Team or similar), not for training. A 70 ton tank isn't "airmailed," it's loaded onto a transport ship and deployed across the ocean. But again, it's not an all or nothing situation. A unit, such as the 2ID in South Korea, has equipment that is kept in Korea, but that's because it has a permanent duty station there. There isn't vast amounts of stuff just sitting around waiting for troops. If a different unit, such as the 82nd, participated in an operation in Saudi Arabia, as you mentioned, then the same equipment they use would be deployed along with them. In fact, for planned/routine operations, the equipment is sent weeks ahead of when the troops leave because a ship takes a longer time, and the same troops and equipment are reunited overseas.

    It's the entire reason why the military stencils a person's name on their equipment. The military isn't going to waste the money to stencil "Spc Johnson" on a Humvee, if Spc Johnson isn't able to drive the same one when it matters. (Ok, this last part is a bit of a joke, but not really...)
    Last edited by Mr44, Dec 15, 2012
  18. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Well, moving on:

    Rheinmetall successfully tests 50kW laser

    They've had a 5x power gain since just last year; that's pretty amazing progress, I think. Just a matter of time until we start seeing these in the field.
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Most impressive is the steel ball "mortar" target, especially since they duplicated actually firing a mortar (50 m/s). It looks like for a target like this, lag seems to be an issue, but not unworkable.
  20. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I wonder what the range is like? It'd have to be 3-5 miles, at least, to be a Rolling Airframe Missile replacement.
  21. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, I wonder. It would have to be at least that, even though the theoretical range of the laser should be unlimited. The performance issue seems to be in the tracker, which would loose effectiveness over range more quickly that the laser itself would.

    The article didn't go into specifics, but reading between the lines, it looks like the time to track among the linked systems is the current issue. If the system took X time- 5 seconds, as an example, to track a mortar shell, then the shell would probably be at the downward slope of its trajectory, which means "close to friendly troops." That's fine for a slow moving target, but for something like a faster moving missile, 5 seconds would be an eternity, and there's a good chance it would have already reached its target. But considering how quickly they boosted the output of the laser, boosting the coordination between the tracker, processor, and laser shouldn't be that big of a deal.
  22. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    That's a common misconception. It would only apply when the laser is moving through a vacuum.

    When a laser travels through any medium, it transfers some energy to that medium. As a result, a laser traveling through air heats the air, much like a laser hitting steel can heat steel. When a laser reflects off a mirror, it also transfers some energy to that mirror.

    This is especially problematic when you are going through air, because as you warm air up it changes its optical properties (think of how the air above a hot road appears to ripple). This leads to what is called thermal blooming, which can either distort the beam or significantly reduce its power. The farther and longer a beam travels through a medium, the more pronounced this effect can be. It's not as much of an issue with very short pulses, or with low energy beams, but it does become an issue at any energy level that would allow you to do any significant damage at even a moderate range (like 3-5 miles).

    In some cases, you can predict what sort of distortions will develop and correct for it with either your optics or aiming (as thermal bloom can appear to bend a beam), but that is highly dependent on the specifics of the medium the beam will travel through.
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well, that's why I said theoretical range of the laser, as in, best case experimental data. I was thinking about the bulk of the experimentation which was carried out in space, when the focus was on space based lasers shooting down ICBM's. I remember an article from years ago where SDI scientists achieved a 1500Km range with one of the "Star Wars" x-ray based lasers. That's about what, 900-950 miles? I couldn't even say if that was a short or long distance for those lasers. But when you overly distances like that on Earth, it's pretty much unlimited.

    I didn't mention practical range, or real world range with a systems like this because I didn't know. Obviously, you're not going to be targeting mortar shells 900 miles away while sitting in the middle of Germany, but I didn't make that claim either. I was thinking more of what's the achievable range with the tracker? Somewhere between SDI range and 3 miles is our answer.
  24. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I'd expect any competition to be asking 2x the range of the C-RAM myself. The problem with CIWS was missiles detonating very close to the carrier and the fragmentation damage that could result, hence the 30mm gun in C-RAM. Obviously they'll want to extend that range, but keep the minimum range down (a problem with missiles). I'm going with, say, 0 to 10 miles.
  25. Blue_Jedi33 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2003
    star 5
    The Hyperbolic AR-15
    This a a fully accessorized AR-15, impractical, but an example of how far you can go with this semi-auto these days.



    These are the types of things that will be hit with the new gun controls coming, but that discussion is for another thread.