Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Gunship With Frickin' Lasers

The Air Force is developing a superconducting generator, about the size of a beer keg and powered by a turbine, that can generate 5 megawatts of power. It's specifically designed to fit in a C-130. Such a generator provides enough juice to power DE (directed energy) weapons. According to Defense Tech:

DE weapons have a deep magazine, as they can keep firing for as long as the fuel supply lasts. Ivan Oelrich, director of strategic security programs for the Federation of American Scientists, estimates here that "To operate a thing like that requires a few tons of fuel per hour."

To get the benefit of this sort of firepower you need an aircraft which is going to stay around over the battlefield rather than disappearing after a few passes. Again, the job is tailor-made for the AC-130, and there have been several proposals for weapons that the generator could drive:

Electric lasers are already looking likely to supercede the primitive and toxic chemical oxygen iodine lasers like the one developed for the Airborne Laser and Avanced Tactical Laser. Last month Northrop Grumman unveiled Vesta, a 15 kW electric laser which can run for twenty minutes at a time. This is a major step towards achieving the Joint High Power Solid State Laser Program's goal of a 100 kW solid state laser weapon in FY 2007. Such a weapon would have sniper-like accuracy, being able to pick out one person from a crowd or destroy pinpoint tagets like aerials or radar without collateral damage. The weapon could fire continuously extended periods, creating a significant morale effect, and the 5-Megawatt generator could power several beams at the same time.
I love the phrase "significant morale effect". Yeah, when without warning a bolt of energy flashes down from the sky and incenerates your leader, I think that would have a significant morale effect.

Other possible weaponry could include non-lethal RF Active Denial systems, or a Hgh Power Microwave Weapon to fry electronics. It would sure give you a range of options.

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