February 01, 2006

Fry Daddy

AC-130 "Fry Daddy" (conceptual rendering)

(h/t Austin Bay)

al Qaeda better hope Coppertone comes out with SPF 4,000,000, or they are going to be in for a whole new world of hurt:

The U.S. military has been developing a gunship that could literally obliterate enemy ground targets with a laser beam.

The military plans to test the Advanced Tactical Laser, a laser weapon mounted on a C-130H air transport that could destroy any weapon system without collateral damage.

The laser could have tremendous repercussions on the battlefield, particularly in urban warfare in such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq. "It's the kind of tool that could bring about victory within minutes," an official said.

The applications of ATL could change military dynamics on the battlefield. Officials envision the laser being able to destroy or damage targets in an urban area with virtually no collateral damage.

A very nice weapon indeed, except for those targeted. I would like to know just how effective the radius of the weapon is, however, and how the heat effects of such a system might work.

While it is rather obvious how this weapon would affect, say, a Shahab-3 missile (developed, appropriately enough, from the North Korean No-Dong missile, which, while obviously accurate when considering the source, is a name I did not make up), it is not so clear how well a weapon of this type would affect a concrete bunker or mud brick structure.

Would such a laser provide enough immediate heat damage to cause the entire structure to violently fail, thus incapacitating or killing all enemies within, or would it it simple burn through in a restricted beam, perhaps slicing through Omar but leaving Abdul free to to operate an IED? Is it able to burn through such heat resistant structures at all?

I reserve the right to be absolutely wrong, but it seems to me that a weapons system that promises "virtually no collateral damage" is a weapons system of reduced lethality useful in only specific, limited circumstances.

Update: Created and added image.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 1, 2006 06:03 PM | TrackBack

the beam would be on a surface area about the size of a quarter. heats to about 2000 depending on several factors. You wouldn't take down a building, just punch a small hole in it and whaever else was in the way. This would be nice against armor as it melts metal. The range would be severalkilometers, but max range would very on many things. don't look for this anytime soon, many issues to work out not only technically, but legally, law of war stuff.

Posted by: Ray Robison at February 2, 2006 12:44 AM

Maybe I am just a traditionalist, but I like the current version of the AC-130. What some would call "collateral damage," I call "bonus points."

Posted by: old_dawg at February 2, 2006 08:53 AM

The "laser" color is all wrong.

Everybody knows that death rays are red and mind control rays are green.

Posted by: phin at February 2, 2006 09:09 AM