Fricking laser beams

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Cool article -- from Wired:
Video: Navy Laser Sets Ship on Fire
With clouds overhead in the salty air, irritable Pacific waves swelled to up to four feet. Perfect conditions, in other words, for the Navy to fry a small boat with a laser beam � a major step toward its futuristic arsenal of ray guns.

Researchers mounted the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, a solid-state laser, aboard the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned destroyer. Off the central California coast near San Nicholas Island on Wednesday, the laser fired a 15-kilowatt beam at an inflatable motorboat a mile away as both ships moved through the sea. As the above video shows, there was a flash on the boat�s outboard engines, igniting both of them in seconds, and leaving the ship dead in the choppy waters.

All previous tests of the laser have come on land � steady, steady land � aside from an October test of the targeting systems. But for the first time, the Office of Naval Research has proven that its laser can operate in a �no-kidding maritime environment,� says its proud director, Rear Adm. Nevin Carr.

�I spent my life at sea,� Carr says in an interview with Danger Room, �and I never thought we�d see this kind of progress this quickly, where we�re approaching a decision of when we can put laser weapons on ships.�

Fewer than three years after the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a contract worth up to $98 million to build the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, it�s proven able to cause �catastrophic failure� on a moving target at sea the first time out, says Quentin Saulter, one of ONR�s top laser gurus.

�When we were doing the shot and the engine went, there was elation in the control room,� he says. �It�s a big step, a proof of principle for directed energy weapons.�

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 10, 2011 5:20 PM.

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