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Ground-based Combat Lasers

Discussion in 'Army & Security Forces' started by Feanor, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:35 AM.

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  1. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There is a report out of Libya that a Chinese-produced UAV, the Wing Loong being operated by pro-Khaftar forces was shot down by a combat laser, supplied by Turkey. While the target here was a UAV, there's no reason it can't be used against say a helicopter, or an unarmored ground vehicle. So far it apparently takes a certain amount of time to heat something up enough with a laser to do damage, but as the technology improves this will likely be less of an issue.

    What do you guys think? Is this the beginning of ground-based lasers becoming a battle-field staple? How far are we from being able to destroy an armored vehicle or helicopter this way? The platforms being used to carry the current Turkish system are awfully small, just 4X4 MRAPs or armored cars. The previous attempts to build a tactical battlefield laser (at least to my knowledge, I may very well be missing something, and I am referring to projects that actually produced vehicles, not just paper) came from the Soviets and used armored tracked chassis from various SP arty and AA:

    1K17 Compression tactical laser
    Sangvin Anti-Aircraft Laser
    1K11 Stilet Multipurpose Laser


    To me this seems like an impressive level of miniaturization, and one that has come shockingly under the radar. The USN is experimenting with lasers in ship turrets, Russia is deploying giant and likely nuclear-powered lasers to (probably) blind satellites, but the Turks have something that would be far more ubiquitous if the technology can develop further in this direction.

    Turkey uses laser weapon technology to shoot down Chinese UAV Wing Loong II in Libya | weapons defence industry military technology UK | analysis focus army defence military industry army
    Пришествие боевых лазеров. 4 августа 2019 года
    Turkish company successfully tests its new mobile laser weapon system – Defence Blog
     
  2. cdxbow

    cdxbow Member

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    Feanor, it's no surprise. Solid state laser are improving the same way all silicon based technologies do, so power capacities are increasing rapidly. I've been able to burn through 6mm ABS in about 2 seconds with a cheap ($150) blue laser, obviously the military would have access to much more powerful solid state devices. The problems essentially are focusing the laser and time on target. A drone which is made of something similar to thin plastic and probably following a fixed course would present only a slightly more challenge than my sheet of ABS and probably require only a number of seconds of TOT.
     
  3. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Honestly what caught me off guard is the scale and the timeframe. Leaders in the area like the US are not producing anything like this, in fact to the best of my knowledge the only other country actually deploying combat lasers is Russia, and they're giant nuclear-powered and narrowly specialized ASAT being deployed around road-mobile ICBM missiles. Literally the closest thing to this that I could think off were those Soviet projects from the 80s but they were anti-missile and anti-mortar shell systems. Iirc the Israelis are working on a laser-based missile-defense system to supplement Iron-dome. Meanwhile the Turks don't just have some prototypes, they have a production model being used in combat.
     
  4. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Active Member

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  5. cdxbow

    cdxbow Member

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    The article talks about 30-60kW lasers by the USN. A blue engraving laser of 15kW costs about $500, that's about 3 times the power of mine, so getting one powerful enough for soft targets wouldn't be too hard or expensive. Again it's focusing and TOT which are the hard parts, as I found out when I tried to zap a troublesome and unfortunately fast moving rat.
     
    John Fedup and Gomer like this.
  6. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    The article is somewhat confusing as to whether a laser was used. It describes MADIS as”The new Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) used is a combination of components that includes electronic jammers, radars and gun systems to take out UAVs”. Later on it mentions the take-down was the first use of a energy directed weapon. I guess gun system could mean laser.