Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yankees With Ray Guns: The Advanced Tactical Laser

A megawatt laser with a four-inch-diameter beam that can cut through metal at a range of nine miles. Science fiction when I was growing up, a Boeing Integrated Defense Systems project today.

Boeing's Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator ACTD) is a high-energy laser weapon system. In the field, it could be installed in a (large) aircraft in a matter of hours.

The megawatt (roughly) laser beam is 10 centimeters across, with a range of many miles. says it's got the heating power of a blowtorch. Hardly the sort of wallop that Han Solo's Millennium Falcon packed in "Star Wars," but it's still enough energy to be a serious weapon.

This laser cannon could save lives: on all sides.

The ability to focus a great deal of energy on a very small target from a great distance may reduce an advantage that outfits like Al Qaeda have had in the War on Terror.

Up to this point, their habit of hiding behind civilians, setting up operations in residential neighborhoods, has given them better protection than any armor. American forces, and coalition forces in general, do not want to hurt innocent people. "Collateral damage" may be acceptable in some cases, but it's something to be avoided.

When it's ready, this weapon system should be able to burn through a missile launcher and leave the car parked next to it untouched (apart from some singed paint, I suspect).

More about the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) and related projects:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.