back to article Boeing faces jumbo problem over US aerial raygun fleet

Boeing executives have revealed to reporters that they have worries about their plans to mount America's second nuke-nobbling laser cannon in a pricey new jumbo-jet variant. It seems that the 747 cargo model which will carry the first as-yet-unproven raygun is going out of production, and Boeing wants more cash so as to tackle …


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  1. Snake Plissken
    Black Helicopters

    Remember this story...

    The next time some Septic tries to claim that the EU subsidises Airbus unfairly in the plane market.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They could, but

    wouldn't it be better to just forget about the stupid impractical laser.

  3. Steve
    Thumb Up

    8F is bigger right

    So they can mount a bigger frickin' laser. Everyones a winner.

  4. Herby Silver badge

    Easy solution...

    Just get a WHOLE bunch of battery operated laser pointers, wrap them up with a rubber band, and fly them on a Piper Cub. Wouldn't that do the trick?

    I remember when some idiot pointed one at me while driving on the freeway. It REALLY annoyed me.

  5. Morely Dotes
    Black Helicopters

    Re: They could, but

    It's marginally impractical today. In 1975, a personal computer that could display real-time 3D animations (ala World of Warcraft, for instance (pun intended)) would have been impractical. Now, 30+ years later, US$300 will get you more computing power than most small nations owned back then.

    Technology changes. It gets cheaper, more powerful, and more practical as development proceeds.

    And a laser is the only weapon that can move fast enough to catch an ICBM during boost pahse, when it is most vulnerable. 300,000 km/second is the speed of light (or speed of laser, if you like). A physical object going into orbit is only moving at about 29,000 km/hour. It's the difference between the Post and radio, essentially.

    And we didn't have invisible anti-gravity-powered black helicopters then, either. ;-)

  6. Andy Barber
    Thumb Up

    Best Aircraft

    The USAF will want the best aircraft, not refurbished second-hand 'rubbish' aircraft. If the new 747 (a 30+ year old design) obviously doesn't tick all the right boxes & a squeaky clean & new A380 does. It does not take a rocket scientist, to make the correct decision. The USAF chose Airbus A330 for the KC-45 tankers, OK so they will be made in Europe but they will be assembled & maintained in the USA by Northrop-Grumman.

    Don't we want the world biggest Superpower to have the biggest (A380) & best that it can afford? Hey, ABL probably won't work anyway but try it on a European platform rather than a 30+ year old US platform.

  7. Simon Redding

    You're five days early!

    April Fool!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Too small

    When will they realize that planes are Too Small for frikkin' lasers? They need to get them up on the moon, then they can rule the night! And do it quick, while the Prince of Darkness can still sign the reqisition order

    ... Bwoooahaahahaha

  9. Andy Bright


    It would not "be better to just forget about the stupid impractical laser" - people just don't understand, and refuse to think things through properly.

    If we forget about the stupid impractical laser where is my X-Wing fighter going to come from? I was hugely disappointed not to get one last Christmas, what with the silly wrangling over money and all the nay-sayers pushing back this tremendously exciting idea.

    And these kinds of subsidies are good for the environment I'll have you know, they're carbon neutral. The energy used to fire the laser is mitigated and turn humans into little piles of smoking ash, is mitigated by the lack of iPod charging that person will engage in for the next 20 years.

  10. Bill Cumming

    One slight problem with lasers

    It will fuel the demand for the Evil nations to build the ultimate defence.....

    Huge frikkin' mirrors....

  11. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    But then again

    But then again the A380 has a lot has one or two or three or more bugs to iron out at the production line as Singapore Airlines have found out as per beeb link

    But Murphy always was an optimist , as for this technology working in real life given the variables added together with results of Star Fish Prime Tests it is very unlikely indeed , and as always the tax payers are for ever the loser in any equation !

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    re Morely Dotes

    I think the reason it is imparacticale is how close (relatively speaking) you need to get the rather heavey and slow aircraft to the actual luanch points to be in range of the LASER (please people its a fricken accronym).

    Of course that dosnt mean it will always be impractical.

  13. Tigre Marino
    Thumb Down

    A380F payload...

    FedEx, UPS and several cargo carriers have cancelled/deferred their orders for A380F because it does not have a frontal nose door, it's impractical to load/unload, needs special taxiways and the maximum cargo load density is very low compared to a 747 or a 777.

    Now the 777F looks like a winner: efficient, two engines, top-notch efficiency, long range and great looks.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    re:It does not take a rocket scientist, to make the correct decision

    if i can point out lewis' favourite axe to grind -

    "Fit for the job" and "cost effective" come further down the list of priorities than "secure <our> jobs" and "make make money back through taxes"

    This is the case in the uk. if its the USAF maybe itll be one of those few documented cases of a triumph for common sense. After all, with it wanting to reduce its dependance on foreign oil, there is hope that someone in the USAF pays attention to el reg ;) </tongue></cheek>

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    RE: payload.

    If they're just squeezing the thing into a 747-400, they're going to need a really big mallet to get it into a 777.

    Oh, and "great looks"? I'm sorry, but the 777 is straight out of the long-tube-with-wings school of aeronautical design. The words "very ordinary looking conventional airliner" spring to mind.

    Also, payloads from the manufacturers:

    747-400 - 110 tonnes

    747-8 - 134 tonnes

    777 - 103.9 tonnes (oops)

    A380-F - 150 tonnes

    Cargo density isn't an issue here as we only want to put one thing (a frickin' huge laser) into the beast. Nose load isn't a requirement (we want to put a frickin' huge laser emitter there, not a door). Runway / taxiway size isn't a problem (if the airfield can accept a B52, a 380's going to look a little lost in the space). Since what we're looking for is interior space for chemical tanks and payload for carrying the maximum possible amount of chemical "fuel" for the laser, this looks like a win for the 380F to me.

    Ok, it looks a bit like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but this is the same military that operates the A10 "Warthog"..........

  16. Peter Ford

    If the airfield can accept a B52...

    ... it might not be big enough!


    Wing span 79.8m (261ft 10in)

    Length 73m (239ft 6in)

    Height 24,1 m (79ft 1in)

    B-52H (imperial units only - sorry)

    Wing span 185ft

    Length 159ft 4in

    Height 40ft 8in

    Methinks a B-52 will look a bit tiny next to an A380.

  17. brimful

    Dear all "axis of evil" countries

    If you're worried about your superbomb being shot down by a frikkin huge laser then why not shoot down the laser plane first or send a battery of missiles it's way and while it's preoccupied with trying to protect itself, launch your uber quick, uber deadly, uber missile? Alternatively you could do what the japs did and scream "kamakazi" in a really high pitch voice. If I was playing Command and conquer I know that's what I'll do. Only problem is that you probably don't want the toxic material coming anywhere near you when the frikkin laser goes down.

    Flame: cos missile tries to burns US, laser tries to burn missile, kamakazi tries to burn laser.

  18. alistair millington
    Thumb Down


    Since when did 1 B52 get stored, the US put them at a very few air force bases and they are always in fleets.

    A couple of these babies would be in a car park full of b 52's and the b2 stealth aircraft as I dare say the US will put them in the same limited number of air bases (IE very secure and well guarded places) like the Indian ocean island base and the couple in the states they have.

    Just think of all the wasted fuel to build plane parts in europe then ship across to build the plan in the states.

    But you save your cans and paper for recycling... all worth while so a pointless jumbo will be around at the the time of a launch to shoot it down, assuming normal air to air missiles and interceptor planes don't shoot the jumbo's anyway prior to missile launch.

    Of course the jumbo is well renowned as an air to air dog fighter.

    AND in order to protect the jumbo's they need air to air interceptors (F35?) which require refuelling, constant guarding and advance knowledge and planning to have everything on hand.

    All that fuel, money and effort to have the chance of putting the missile and plane in the same area for a shot.

    Utterly pointless.

  19. TeeCee Gold badge


    Oopsie, my bad. Should've checked.


    Holy smoke! The 380's bigger than a Galaxy. Who'd've thunk it?

    <tappity tap>

    The only thing out there available* bigger right now seems to be the Antonov AN-225 Mriya, which edges the 380 on length (84m) and wingspan (88.4m), although it's only a paltry 18.1m tall. Carries a massive 250 tonnes in payload though.

    Hmmm, we can get *two* lasers in one of those and there's enough capacity left for turrets. I call dibs on the top one.

    *Antonov have one. They reckon they can build more, but nobody's ordered any.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Best Aircraft

    The USAF will want the best aircraft, not refurbished second-hand 'rubbish' aircraft.

    Well perhaps you missunderstood, take a passenger plane (old or New!) and modify it into a cargo plane by replacing the interior with new bits. Who said second hand?

  21. herman Silver badge

    Boeing graft lawsuit

    Boeing mainly lost the tanker contract due to a graft lawsuit earlier in the bidding process. The DoD contract managers won't touch those Boeing execs again for that contract with a ten foot pole.

  22. Charlie

    Scrooo Boeing

    Having to lift off and fly to an offensive weapon could be dangerously time consuming, and in fact take too long to be of ANY use. And keeping the ABL continuously in the air over hot spots is ridiculously impractical and too costly.

    If possible, I think the weapon should be mounted on sea faring vessels which are often in the vicinity of hot spots, and for long periods of time. And send Boeing packing to pull (probably deliberate) cost over-runs on some one else for a change. The job of protecting the US, our allies and neighbor's is NOW, not after we're backed in a corner waiting for weapons. Can you immagine trying to tell the person shooting at you to give you time to get your act together? For far, far too long the DoD and our security have been taking a back seat to contractor's shenanigans. It's time they bite the bullet for playing games with our Country's security.

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