AI News, Deterring North Korea with Laser Drones

Deterring North Korea with Laser Drones

Deterring North Korea With Laser Drones BY TOM RISEN|AUGUST 23, 2017 MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY RECEIVES CONCEPTS FROM U.S. COMPANIES The U.S. options to counter a nuclear attack from North Korea don’t include a way to destroy a ballistic missile during the boost phase, when the missile’s engines are still burning brightly and the heat makes it easier to detect and track.

In hopes of finding a solution, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency this month finished gathering ideas from industry for an unmanned aircraft that would fly at 60,000 feet for long periods and fire a laser to destroy a nuclear-armed missile shortly after launch.

Credit: U.S. Air Force If MDA were to go forward with one or more development contracts, the scope of the request suggests that engineers would face numerous challenges, including creating a drone that could make long flights while carrying a laser powerful enough to destroy a launching rocket.

Directed energy beams like that would need a strong, reliable power supply, and a laser carried by a drone would also have to focus at a fixed point on a moving target to melt through a ballistic missile’s hull, the agency’s request indicates.

No specific type of engine or fuel is requested for the drone, but the posting asks for a power source that can supply the payload with at least 140 kilowatts and as much as 280 kilowatts for greater than 30 minutes while in the colder air of high altitudes.

“For the immediate future we are going to see chemically powered rockets kill other chemically powered rockets.” MDA faces renewed pressure to beef up missile defense options following North Korea’s threats of launching its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles at Guam, where Andersen Air Force Base is.

Lockheed Martin Destroys Drones in Latest Laser Weapons Demo

“The tests at White Sands against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we’ve seen against static targets at our own test range,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin’s Chief Technology Officer in a statement.

“As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we’re making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range,” Jackson continued.

“There’s a lot of mission space where the covert capability of the laser is also beneficial, because you can cause an effect without their being any visible sign of what caused that effect,” said Dr. Karl Scheibner in a video from last year.

Pentagon: We’re Closer Than Ever to Lasers That Can Stop Iranian, North Korean Missiles

Pentagon: We’re Closer Than Ever to Lasers That Can Stop Iranian, North Korean Missiles BY MARCUS WEISGERBER GLOBAL BUSINESS EDITOR READ BIO AUGUST 17, 2016 TOPICS IRAN NORTH KOREA INDUSTRY ARMY LOCKHEED MARTIN AA FONT SIZE + PRINT With global demand for missile defense surging, US officials are fine-tuning cheaper, more powerful laser weapons.

“I view this [as] highly important for the future.” Syring and other military officials struck a common theme at this week’s annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium, arguing that lasers could ultimately augment existing missile interceptors.

“The cost dimension of warfare must be switched from our side to the adversary side.” Army leaders are concerned that they might have to fire expensive interceptors against far cheaper rockets or small drones packed with explosives.

DON’T MISS: Sign up for the Global Business Brief, our new weekly newsletter by Marcus Weisgerber Congress has appropriated $119 billion for U.S. missile defense projects, including ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, deployable THAAD interceptors, and radars, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Unlike existing missile interceptors, which collide with enemy rockets in the middle or latter phases of a launch, an anti-ballistic missile laser would attempt to shoot down missiles as they are being boosted toward outer space.

Pentagon officials hope to decide what that demonstrator might look like “in a few years.” The goal of that project is to fly a powerful laser at a high altitude that can track possibly kill a missile soon after it is launched, during its boost phase.

Tom Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said lasers might be sooner used for tactical missile defense, currently done by systems like Avenger or Israel’s Iron Dome, but in time could be mounted on drones that would attempt to shoot down the missiles soon after they blast off.

“The beauty of this is it’s still remaining pretty nice and compact.” Shooting down a missile requires more than the laser itself, it involves steering mirrors, adaptive optics and software that can track a target.


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