back to article US military's RAY-GUN truck BLASTS DRONES, mortars OUT OF THE SKY

The US military has successfully tested a truck armed with an auto-targeting laser that can shoot down mortars and flying drones in the air before they cause a kerfuffle for troops on the ground. Laser truck Battlefield lasers at last ... Uncle Sam's ray-gun truck In month-long tests at the White Sands missile range in new …

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  1. LoPath

    I imagine they're taking it to Florida to zap those pesky seagulls out of the sky!

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      I wish. Or alternatively if they'd fry the tourists who feed them because it only encourages the little bastards. Feeding wildlife in Florida is generally a bad idea just in general, the seagulls are probably the most harmless but most annoying.

      Barring postings around the country when I was Active duty, and the first two years of my life spent in Georgia, I've lived in Florida my entire life, and I've lost count how many times those damned seagulls have stolen things from me on all three coasts.

      1. Ted Treen

        Ca dépend…

        Depending on which wildlife you feed (gators?)...

        ...and who you feed to 'em...

  2. Brian Miller

    Not quite the first thing to take out...

    A highly visible laser truck is going to be the first thing any enemy will want to take out.

    Actually, it's the Signal Corp that is the first target. Shut down the enemy's communication, then lay into them.

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

      True, but you have to admit that the enemy has a pretty poor record of taking out our commo nets since early WWII, it did happen a couple of times during Vietnam, like the Battle of Lima Site 85 for instance. A system like this thing is still a major target on a FOB, all ADA systems and their radars are. Appropriate force protection measures are a must for all of a locations essential functionality and your Air Defense is pretty damned essential if there's a threat. As is C4I.

      Any new ADA system, laser or not, is just another complimentary target like how Patriot and THAAD batteries already are, and until they're proven and acquired, they're nothing worth getting excited over, at least not to me.

      1. loneranger

        Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

        Combined arms is the only way this can work. Sitting by itself without air cover, or in an isolated location with the enemy not far away, like a firebase in Vietnam/Afghanistan, is probably not a good idea either. UNLESS, you can miniaturize the system so much that it is well hidden. That may be a long way off yet.

        But, it's a great start. Every time I read one of these articles about new laser weaponry, I want to confront those democrats in the US Congress that lied repeatedly about Reagan's SDI, and mocked it by calling it "Star Wars"; and ask them, "Now what? Were you right or wrong about Reagan's SDI?"

        They did everything in their power to stop SDI by lying about it, and saying that it was a waste of money, it wouldn't work, yakity yakity yak.

        The evidence was obvious that with enough time and money, SDI was going to pay off in a huge way, for both civilian and military applications.

        Thank you, President Reagan (posthumously), for standing up to the liberal idiots and continuing on doing what was right. The democrats (now mostly dead) who opposed SDI were wrong. I only wish their successors would come out and admit to the news media that they were wrong and give an accounting for all the lies they told.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

          Sorry but this Laser is light years away from what SDI lasers need to do:

          Judging by the vehicle used the system is heavy, the HEMMT has a 10t capacity

          It can only kill drohnes (frail and full of explosive fuel) and mortar shells (thin walled and full of explosive) not even the thicker walled artillery shells. And even then the shells only get rendered inert.

          Being on the ground it can use air breathing engines and even an "external" fuel tank

          Tracking distance is short and there is no such thing as a decoy

          An SDI laser would rely on on-board fuel and being a mid-course system attack nuclear warheads capabel of surviving re-entry. And they had to destroy it because even as a pure kinetic penetrator the average warhead at 300-400kg will cause serious damage

          1. loneranger

            Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

            How do you know they don't already have laser weaponry, or perhaps particle beam, that can do what you describe? Area 51 and similar secret military sites are doing things that we know little or nothing about, other than rumors on the web which are impossible to confirm or deny.

            I believe that the US military, and probably Britain's too, are using technology which is so advanced that we would call it science fiction. The things that are shown for public consumption are trivial by comparison.

            1. Psyx

              Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

              "I believe that the US military, and probably Britain's too, are using technology which is so advanced that we would call it science fiction. "

              So you're saying that it's a great dream of yours that the military-industrial complex is twenty years ahead of civilian/medical/humanitarian applications and that they can keep such things successfully hidden from every taxpayer who foots the bill, even to the point where every sub-average IQ grunt who is trained to use it can be convinced to keep utterly quiet about it for a decade.

              I'd call that a fucking crime.

              "How do you know they don't already have laser weaponry"

              They do, if you consider targeting applications. Field-portable anti-personnel lasers have also been around for over a decade, but are thankfully banned by Convention because it's frankly seen as too easy to permanently blind humans from 3km away.

          2. loneranger

            Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

            Yes of course, I wasn't saying that this particular laser system would take out an ICBM. I don't know how you got that out of my comment.

            Do a little research on this topic, and you'll find that we already have lasers that can take out ICBM's. One was/is mounted inside a transport aircraft, and maybe we have others that are in orbit that we know nothing about. My other post says the rest.

            1. Psyx

              Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

              "One was/is mounted inside a transport aircraft, and maybe we have others that are in orbit that we know nothing about. My other post says the rest."

              If you mean the anti-missile laser, the project was cancelled last year, on the grounds that it didn't work, couldn't hit, cost too much, was toxic, couldn't blow a missile up and was 10 years too late. And the minute it did work it could be countered by slapping an asbestos coating under a missile's skin and by imparting a spin of it to de-localise the thermal spike.

            2. mmeier

              Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

              I talked with old Martin from next door. He's not to impressed with US technology. If he hadn't been around with his Reichsflugscheibe to tow him to Mare Tranquilis this Armstrong guy woul have never made it. Shoddy work he said, really shoddy work. Looked like somet of the firework rockets that kiddo in Penemünde was playing with back in the 40s

            3. mmeier

              Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

              If with the airborne laser you refer to ole YAL - sorry that is a BOOST phase interceptor. Aiming at the rocket, a thin-walled cylinder filled with highly reactive chemicals. And "ballistics" != ICBM, even brown Wernhers firecracker was a ballistic missile.

              SDI had lasers for the free flight part of the intercept when the "bus" or, even worse the single warhead (some Sovjet ICBM "NORAD busters" used a single head) and it's fleet of decoys had separated from the explosive part of the system. Totally different scenario.

              Not to mention that it fills up a 747-200 so it will weight up to 100to - almost the LEO capacity of a Saturn V.

          3. F111F
            Boffin

            Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

            THIS laser IS light-years away from SDI...but this is just a testbed. The object is to field a 50Kw and then a megawatt class laser, which will do all the things SDI required. Frankly, an inter-linked system of 1Mw lasers around a city or military base would be hard to overcome via anything being thrown/lobbed/fired/dropped at it. Taking out a speed of light weapon system will require other methods, such as attacking the power grid that supports them, or the cooling network, or spoofing the targeting system, etc.

            1. druck Silver badge

              Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

              Taking out a faster than light weapon just means throwing more conventional weapons at it than it can engage simultaneously, as is the case for any technology, or even just storming a machine gun post.

              1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                Re: Taking out a faster than light weapon

                It's not a faster than light weapon, it is a lightspeed weapon.

                Other than that, I agree with your post.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Fogcat

          Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

          If wasn't (only) the viability of the technology that opponents of the "Star Wares project" objected to. It was to a greater extent about what it would do to the stability of the global political climate.

          The Russians saw the project a a means whereby the USA could stage a first strike without having to worry about the retaliation and resulting "Mutual Assured Destruction" (Don't forget Regan had already called them an evil empire. If the "shield" even *looked* as if it was getting close to being viable it would have put the pressure on the Soviet hawks to lobby for their own first while that was still a possibility. It would have made the world a much less stable place, Perestroika would probably never got off the ground.

          Of course in these days of asymmetric warfare you don't need ICBMs to totally change a countries culture.

        3. Psyx

          Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

          "Now what? Were you right or wrong about Reagan's SDI?"

          They were right. What Reagan was talking about was stupidly expensive, stupidly ahead of it's time and...kinda stupid. Thirty years on and we couldn't even shoot down a missile from a nearby aeroplane.

          What Reagan achieved by pulling the program was also an essential part in the negotiations and posturing which ended the Cold War.

          Let me spell that out: Because SDI was never put in place, we no longer have a Cold War.

          I am glad of that, and anyone who isn't glad to see the back of the Cold War probably works for Raython, is insane, or hasn't seen enough mangled corpses to have developed an aversion to killing yet (you'll find that quite a lot of people in the military are a lot more adverse to war than people who sit on their sofas and call anyone who doesn't look forward to killing burglars a soft liberal).

          You also appear to have confused the word 'Liberal' with the term 'someone who does not agree with me'.

      2. Psyx

        Re: Not quite the first thing to take out...

        "True, but you have to admit that the enemy has a pretty poor record of taking out our commo nets since early WWII."

        They weren't trying very hard, nor from a position of anything approaching equality or air superiority (or even hotly contested airspace!)

        We used to happily park FFR Landys on hill-tops on FTX or when feeling safe, but had the Soviets rolled through West Germany, every Sigs unit would be cowering in valleys and every hill-top glassed by Soviet arty.

  3. OrsonX
    Boffin

    Ask The Physicist

    I recently "asked the physicist" (a very interesting website) what the best colour of laser was to shoot stuff down with.

    The answer:

    "What really matters is the intensity of the beam (energy carried by the beam), not its colour."

    But is this the whole answer? What about infra-red radiation? Does this not transfer more heat to an object?

    1. Chris G Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Ask The Physicist

      When molecules achieve higher energy states they begin to emit EM radiation, the earlier frequencies being in the IR range, as they get hotter they will move to visible red and ultimately white heat ( all frequencies),

      as the physicist said it is the intensity of the beam that does the damage.

      However, matching your laser beam to the frequencies that your target absorbs best would make it more efficient, as different materials absorb some frequencies more than others.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Ask The Physicist

        It's actually an interesting problem since many types of glass are fairly opaque to IR but some types of spinel such as ALON are largely transparent. On the other side there are many materials that are visibly opaque but transparent to IR. Reflectivity represents a another set of issues so I imagine they choose their laser wavelength quite carefully.

    2. JP19

      Re: Ask The Physicist

      "What really matters is the intensity of the beam (energy carried by the beam), not its colour."

      When polished metals reflect more than 95% of visible and longer wavelength light the only colour which can avoid almost trivial countermeasures is ultra violet.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Ask The Physicist

        When in doubt, choose X-Ray.

        It handily beats phased plasma rifles in the 40 watt range.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Ask The Physicist

          Of course you also need to consider the nitrogen, oxygen, co2, water, and other miscellaneous shite that's inbetween you and the target. Not a lot of point in having a big assed laser if all it's going to do is heat up the water vapor twixt you and the bad guy. Also efficiency, many years ago when i was a lad industrial lasers were outrageously inefficient (10-20%), no big deal if you are in a huge factory with an HV 3 phase supply, but a bit of a challenge if you are in the back of beyond, in a truck.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: Ask The Physicist

            Efficiency was always a function of the laser type. As I recall way back when I was a lad the rates varied from 1% for your standard ruby laser through 50% for certain types of diodes. At the time you tended to get more raw power from gas because you could pump more power into it. Promising work at that point was on liquids. I would imagine quite a bit has changed since then. And a quick Google search leads to this article for a 74% solid-state device being worked on by the military:

            http://phys.org/news/2011-05-scientists-high-efficiency-ceramic-laser.html

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Ask The Physicist

        "When polished metals reflect more than 95% of visible and longer wavelength light the only colour which can avoid almost trivial countermeasures is ultra violet."

        I think the need to get it to at least 99%. Otherwise, the 5% that DOES get absorbed would deform and defeat the polish, allowing the other 95% back in again to finish it off.

    3. OrsonX
      Pint

      Re: Ask The Physicist

      interesting replies, cheers!

  4. Natalie Gritpants

    Has this been tested on chrome-plated targets?

    1. moiety

      "Pimp My Missile"; the new reality show starting in spring 2014

    2. kit

      A chrome plated object is sensitive both to radar and naked eyes. I doubt if any weapon designer would do.

    3. MikeOxlong

      Indeed Navigator

      Complying!

  5. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    FAIL

    Reflective Shell ?

    If the mortar rounds are covered in a nice mirror finish then the reflected laser beams may blind US soldiers on the ground and the shell would probably still survive to explode at the target.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reflective Shell ?

      I really hope that this is sarcasm, otherwise I find your lack of common sense disturbing. On a hot day, find a car with a chrome bumper that has been sitting outside and touch it, you'll find it quite hot. The question is: why is the mirrored bumper still hot despite being a highly reflective surface? Now off to Wikipedia to review basic physics and while you're at it please see the common misconceptions page as well and with any luck you can spend the rest of your life being a little less wrong.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Reflective Shell ?

        So why is the mirrored bumper still hot despite being a highly reflective surface?

        Apart from bog-standard heat transfer from the rest of the vehicle.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          1. Paint your car and house chrome.

          2. Your car and house now reflect all incoming energy at all wavelengths.

          3.You no longer need AC during the summer, brag to your neighbors about your new low electric bill and awesome chrome house.

          4. PROFIT!!!

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Reflective Shell ?

            Paint your house white. Chrome can be about 95% reflective but while paints can achieve 99% in the optical range.

            Of course the simple application of an insulating shell on the weapon would help too as it seems that the defence system requires heat transfer to the explosive to achieve its aims.

            Or an ablating coating - now what was that secret fireproof stuff called again?

        2. Captain DaFt

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          "So why is the mirrored bumper still hot despite being a highly reflective surface?"

          Because the chrome only reflects about 80% of the light. That still leaves about 20 percent to be converted to thermal energy.

          It actually compares well with most solar panels efficiency in converting light to electricity.

      2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Reflective Shell ?

        A decent reflective surface will reflect over 95% of the incident energy - couple this with the fact that most mortar and artillery shells are spin stabilized and the chance of the laser getting enough energy through to cook off the explosive in the shell is small. Remember the laser is unlikely to have more than 1 second on any individual shell in a battle situation (as against a contrived test). With a 10KW laser this is 10KJ before reflection effects - with a decent mirrored surface this drops to 500J - which is far less than the energy to heat up 1 cup of tea. I STRONGLY SUGGEST that it is YOU who needs to learn about basic physics.

        (A 120mm mortar round weighs about 30 pounds - even a 100KW laser is unlikely to be able to damage such a projectile in a 1 second engagement if the projectile has a mirrored surface.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          Try that chromed metal surface in a microwave, this is just a small range of wavelengths that chromed metal doesn't reflect, and rather absorbs quite handily. Given that there are plenty of wavelengths in the em spectrum that the chromed surface will be less than effective against, the fact that the surface is reflective of visible light is moot. Now off to Wikipedia with you.

        2. Joe Cooper

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          @Duncan Macdonald

          It doesn't have to damage it; it's full of explosives. If they can be heated well enough than they do the work.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          @Duncan McDonald - why don't you try this experiment. Fire a water cannon at someone standing still on ice. Then repeat with a figure skater in a tight spin.

          Hint. The results will be the same. There was a dude called Newton who did some work a while back on action and reaction. You should check it out.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
            Go

            Re: Reflective Shell ?

            The effect of the spin is to distribute the incoming energy over a larger portion of the shell thereby reducing the peak heating at any one spot. Between the spin and the reflective coating, the effect of the laser is reduced to a general heating of the shell.

            Do the maths

            10kW for 1 second is 10kJ

            95% reflection reduces this to 500J

            For a 30 pound shell this works out to 500/30 joules/pound (16.67 J/pound)

            Assuming a specific heat capacity of 0.1 (probably higher but this figure will do for illustration)

            Each pound of shell will have the same heat capacity as one tenth of a pound of water i.e. about 105 joules per degree Fahrenheit.

            The temperature of the shell would be raised by 16.67/105 degrees Fahrenheit i.e. just under 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit.

            For the demonstration they probably used a single non rotating shell at a time painted in the usual dark colour that absorbs laser light efficiently.

            For the demonstration 20 seconds at 25% reflection gives 15kJ and for a non rotating shell this energy would be concentrated onto a smaller part of the shell which gives the laser a chance to penetrate the casing and set off the explosive inside.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reflective Shell ?

              This should help, its a PBS kids program on mirrors:

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE6I52Th9DE

              CRITICAL THINKING:

              After watching the video ask yourself can a mirror "reflect" an infinite amount of energy? At what point does the incoming energy damage the mirror? Is there a "threshold" at which the mirror fails, more specifically at what levels of energy per area are sufficient to do so? Do mirrors "reflect" the entire EM spectrum with equal intensity, or different intensities at different wavelengths? What happens to the lost intensity?

              COMMON PITFALLS:

              Nothing is ideal everything has it's limits. Math is not what is in question here, it is the base assumptions you have made about the system that are fundamentally flawed. Assumptions are the initial input for any engineering problem, and garbage in is garbage out, no matter the quality of the "maths". While assuming ideal materials and properties is most convenient, it can often result in significant errors in the final solution. Choose your assumptions with great care.

              -------

              Now, while I realize that this statement and my previous statements are harsh and quite flippant, You really should take the time to review Wikipedia or watch MIT opencourseware (and just ignore me being cranky for lack of coffee). These are fantastic resources that can clear up common misconceptions and broaden your horizons, you should never let pride get in the way of acquiring knowledge and bettering yourself. I would also like to take this moment to remind you that you still can withdraw your comment and politely act as though it never happened, and use the time saved from pointless argument to enrich yourself and end your own frustration in one fell swoop.

            2. Naughtyhorse

              Re: Reflective Shell ?

              agree totally, just commenting on units - Pounds and Fahrenheit, quaint

              thasall

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reflective Shell ?

              Let's break this down:

              "10kW for 1 second is 10kJ"

              I understand that it has been a while, but come on projectile motion isn't that hard! A quick sanity check on your maths would have revealed that the projectile has to be hypersonic (the kind of hypersonic beyond the realm of light gas guns and rail guns) for the above statement to be true. (Mortar muzzle velocities are relatively low) Even if the mortar were to be seen only at around the apex of its flight, the time is much longer than you think.

              "95% reflection reduces this to 500J"

              Mirrors are just highly polished metal (silver, aluminum, etc). Mirrors don't actually reflect light, they absorb and re-emit a photon. The key here is absorb. All mirrors have a maximum power density (power per unit area) that they are able to reflect before catastrophic failure occurs. The fact that the mirror is only a surface treatment means that once the (very thin) surface is corrupted, the ability of the mirror to reflect that energy away is reduced to the same as the component material. Now, what happens to power density as power remains the same and the area shrinks? A mirror with a high power beam concentrated on its surface doesn't last much longer (probably infinitesimally longer) than the unmirrored surface. Given the violence of the ejection out of the barrel, imperfections would exist on the surface anyway. You could make a sabot type round to combat this, but then the manufacturing cost, complication went up and size of the actual shell just went down for very little benefit. As a side note: mirrors don't reflect the entire EM spectrum equally this makes the visible spectrum reflective properties doubly moot. TL;DR: No dice on reflecting any significant power for an appreciable amount of time.

              "For a 30 pound shell this works out to 500/30 joules/pound (16.67 J/pound)"

              Whoa there! We're not talking about heating the whole shell, metal does not conduct heat instantly to other parts of the mortar (that would be a pretty neat trick that we could use to violate Einstein's tyranny though). We only need to heat the cross section of metal that touches the beam and to the depth of the charge. This works out to a more manageable mass when the beam is focused on a portion of the shell.

              "For the demonstration they probably used a single non rotating shell at a time painted in the usual dark colour that absorbs laser light efficiently."

              Well I'm willing to bet they didn't paint it chrome because they do science everyday, it's their job to do science and math with proficiency, and realized it doesn't actually matter. The spinning will buy you some time (not enough, but some), but honestly it still wouldn't do much for you when facing down those 50 and 100kW production baddies.

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                because they do science everyday????

                no they don’t - they do 'sell shit to ignorant politicians'. This is a wholly different and incredibly lucrative trade compared to the honest practice of science.

          3. Ted Treen
            Happy

            @Nicho - Re: Reflective Shell ?

            "There was a dude called Newton who did some work a while back on action and reaction. You should check it out."

            Yup.

            To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

            This can be proved by punching a Millwall supporter...

        4. cortland

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          At least they did test it. I understand the goal is to combine modules to get 100 kW -- and that the program managers were surprised how well 10 kW does.

        5. Psyx

          Re: Reflective Shell ?

          "A decent reflective surface will reflect over 95% of the incident energy "

          A very expensive lab-made silver/gold mirror surface might. A bathroom mirror doesn't approach that level of reflectiveness.

          Are you suggesting that a viable countermeasure would be to coat every arty shell and mortar bomb with a high-reflective finish? Do you know how many artillery shells a battery can get through in a day? And how old our existing supplies are and how large?

          These are the same highly reflective mortar bombs that are going to be carried by grunts in a battle zone, right?

          Do you want to be the one handing them out to the mortar platoon and asking them to keep them nice and shiny?

          Of course that reflective coating is going to completely coat the munition, so there won't be any handy stencilled lettering left to tell you anything about what you might be firing.

          Mirrored mortar bombs are a nice armchair general solution, with zero grounding in practicality.

  6. poopypants

    The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

    Otherwise why would they build multi-million dollar weapons with a weak spot (lens) that can be rendered useless by a lone sniper.

    1. moiety

      Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

      If you could land a grenade or similar close enough to splash mud on the lens you could maybe get the truck to take itself out of the game.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

        The existing laser defense systems I've been around are already smart enough to give a fault report to the control panel when the lenses are dirty. (much to the aggravation of the poor fool on the maintenance team that has to go and clean 'em!)

        I'd assume that this would be no different.

        A number of the existing systems also have a park position that has the lens out of sight, and less able to be affected by random environmental hazards.

        1. Mark Major

          Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

          @AC "The existing laser defense systems I've been around are already smart enough to give a fault report to the control panel when the lenses are dirty. (much to the aggravation of the poor fool on the maintenance team that has to go and clean 'em!)"

          Hopefully remembering to take the keys out!

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

      Well it looks like they will keep plugging away til they win one.

    3. Mike Richards

      Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

      This is just the Mark I which exists mainly to justify follow-on contracts.

      Following a lone sniper attack on the lorry Boeing will go along to the DoD and ask for funding for an improved Mark II that will be only very slightly more expensive and contain a slightly less obvious fatal flaw.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

        You don't design weapons systems that way. Everything is vulnerable to something, that's accepted and unavoidable. You build the weapons system to accomplish their task, and you use your other assets to defend it.

        For example, a modern US aircraft carrier by itself is insanely vulnerable to a WWII era diesel powered vessel or surface to surface missiles that are cheaper than a sniper, or even shallow water. But an aircraft carrier doesn't defend itself. It has the rest of its battle group, its aircraft and its CIWS for defense. The situation is the same for armored units.

        Anti-armor snipers are also exceedingly rare things. They are an accessory to an already fully equipped military, not the types of enemies anyone is currently engaged with. Snipers in general are rapidly nearing the end of their usefulness anyway. In dense urban areas they are still a threat, but outside of city centers they are totally vulnerable to drones. By the time the laser weapons are deployed snipers will be anomalous things that represent the last ditch efforts of an already defeated enemy.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

          "Anti-armor snipers are also exceedingly rare things. They are an accessory to an already fully equipped military, not the types of enemies anyone is currently engaged with. Snipers in general are rapidly nearing the end of their usefulness anyway. In dense urban areas they are still a threat, but outside of city centers they are totally vulnerable to drones. By the time the laser weapons are deployed snipers will be anomalous things that represent the last ditch efforts of an already defeated enemy."

          Phew. That's good new. People who can shoot someone from 2Km are indeed pretty rare.

          Except in Afghanistan, where they've been driving up the kill range to over 2Km.

          An anti-mortar system is fairly useful but (ant I know this would be rather unsporting) what if you're enemy attacks when your laser system is in the "park" position?

          By the time the cover comes off it's all over.

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Go

            Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

            If an enemy is in position to see your laser system is in the "park" position. I would say you are in far more danger than from just a few random mortar rounds...

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

            ".....Except in Afghanistan, where they've been driving up the kill range to over 2Km......" This is not a defensive system for small positions but for major bases, which may be many miles across. If the enemy can already fire safely at you from 2km then he won't be bothering with mortars, he'll be machine-gunning you (which is what the Talebints have been doing, not sniping with anti-armour rifles). Moving any form of rifle or MG into range of a major US base is a suicide mission as they have radar and sound direction tracking gear (works on the supersonic soundwaves produced by the bullet) that will pinpoint the position of a sniper very quickly.

          3. Psyx

            Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

            "Phew. That's good new. People who can shoot someone from 2Km are indeed pretty rare. "

            There are six of them, and all of them are on our side.

            "Except in Afghanistan, where they've been driving up the kill range to over 2Km. An anti-mortar system is fairly useful but (ant I know this would be rather unsporting) what if you're enemy attacks when your laser system is in the "park" position? By the time the cover comes off it's all over."

            Well Sod's Law dictates that will be when the mortar is disassembled, so it'll be a no score draw.

            Seriously though; you're missing the point. The system is for Force Protection not front line use. And probably against people not as well tooled up. That means it gets parked up next to a runway, encampment or other base, protecting things more expensive than either itself or a few grunts.

            Luckily, not many base commanders are stupid enough to surround their bases with barriers that snipers can see through at ground level (otherwise snipers would shoot at people, instead of your enemy just plopping mortar rounds inside the walls, which is what the actual threat is), and are equally unlikely to fail to emplace their defences. Nor are such bases typically surrounded with enough cover that snipers can crawl up to them, or cited conveniently where snipers can over-look them. And it's not like people patrol around bases and over-fly them with drones equipped with IR cameras on the off-chance that a two-man team with a 30kg AMR are planning on sneaking up to them and somehow hitting a 10cm target from the kind of range that you're talking about, either.

            The military isn't entirely stupid in its purchases. Laser anti-mortar/rocket base defences are being purchased because our enemies like to lob mortar bombs into established bases. It's a solution for an existing problem, not a pipe dream. And a few of these in police/army bases would have saved a bit of bother during the Troubles, too.

    4. Woza
      Coat

      Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

      Having a single vulnerable exhaust port is, of course, mandatory on all battle stations platforms armed with a big frikken laser (TM).

      Mine's the one with the womp rat in the pocket,

    5. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

      For the Americans, every war is asymmetric.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

    So it keeps mortar rounds from exploding, but what if the enemy dispenses with the explosives and just uses the mortar as a more advanced catapult and starts flinging the modern equivalent of rocks and cannonballs? The laser doesn't help you then, except maybe that instead of heavy stuff falling on you, you have heavy hot stuff falling on you.

    Instead of targeting American soldiers, they'll target our multi million dollar pieces of equipment, like helicopters, airplanes and oh how about the ray gun that stops them from using explosive mortars?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

      LOL, it would look bad to have millions of dollars of high tech equipment taken out with the equivalent of 18th century fire power, wouldn't it?

    2. Joe Cooper

      Re: Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

      Disrupting enemy mortars is equivalent to causing the enemy not to use them. If the enemy can't rely on them and abandons them, than you don't even need perfect coverage.

      You're suggesting that they can do without them, and I would have to ask, why have them in the first place if they can do so?

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

      Launching 30lb weights at your enemy stopped being a threat when we stopped using mounted cavalry. It would be very confusing, sure, but all you have to do is close the vehicle door or step inside while they were falling. Old, dud, mortar rounds from Palestine usually don't even go through the roofs of the Israeli buildings.

      Mortars are effective only because the have quick cycle times and the fact they explode. They aren't accurate, at all, and hitting something directly with a mortar round would be fairly rare anyway. Without the explosion part they're less useful than driving golf balls at your enemy.

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

        Forget the catapult - or even a dogapult; go for a horseapult*

        In most of the areas the US envision this would be deployed, a sudden influx of carrion would be swiftly followed by a sudden influx of carrion eaters. Once the number of vultures is high enough, resume with "LIVE" rounds and watch the laser try to shoot around the "chaff" flying about.

        * Please note the more common cowapult couldnt be used in many areas due to the local religious beliefs.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Coat

          Re: Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

          > "the more common cowapult couldnt be used in many areas due to the local religious beliefs"

          So there's no local equivalent of "Fetchez la vache"?

    4. Psyx

      Re: Doesn't stop a kinetic attack

      "So it keeps mortar rounds from exploding, but what if the enemy dispenses with the explosives and just uses the mortar as a more advanced catapult and starts flinging the modern equivalent of rocks and cannonballs?"

      Then rocks land near your infantry and they say "What idiot is using an already inaccurate weapon system which relies on fragmentation to throw rocks at us?" and then they ask their nice friends with counter-battery RADAR to drop a few 155s on the mortar position and maybe mount a patrol to see if they can find any mangled flesh.

      Artillery is a killer. Fragmentation was responsible for about 75% of casualties in both world wars. Comparatively few people were killed by being directly hit by shells. Solid shells have no place in an anti-infantry/materiel role.

  8. Whiznot

    I'm afraid they might put a hole in the moon.

    1. TheProf

      I like that song. By The Waterboys wasn't it?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two things

    1) Not impressed, call me when it can be mounted on a shark.

    2) Can it pop popcorn?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Two things

      Regarding 2

      Call me when I can order popcorn from Amazon to be delivered by quadcopter cooked en route.

  10. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Devil

    HEY Lewis... remember those pesky Amazon Drones?

    Well heres some tech we could use to shoot them down. ;-) And is portable too so when the cops come we could always part it in the garage and out of sight. ;-P

    Seriously though, you could probably get some laser kit and cobble together some sort of radar control.

    I'll bet those Amazon drones are slow enough to be an easy target for a laser that doesn't need to be all that powerful....

    1. Gray
      Thumb Up

      Re: HEY Lewis... remember those pesky Amazon Drones?

      No need for a hi-tech approach here. Talk Grandfather out of his long-barrel "goose gun" with magnum shot shells. These were very tightly-patterned shotguns used for knocking high-flying geese out of the sky. Just perfect for slow-flying drones. Easy to find on Google ... check for 'market hunters' in US history.

  11. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    "A highly visible laser truck is going to be the first thing any enemy will want to take out."

    -Shipment of old Chevy Stepsides--check!

    -Leftover steel plate--check!

    -Camo paint--check!

    -Old lasers left over from planetarium Pink Floyd show--check!

    (Do your worst, el Reg!!)

    1. Joey

      Re: "A highly visible laser truck is going to be the first thing any enemy will want to take out."

      The could be disguised as ice cream vans. Nobody would twig.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "A highly visible laser truck is going to be the first thing any enemy will want to take out."

        Shirley the constant tune on loudspeakers would give their location away?

        Unless you got lots of real ice cream vans and hid it amongst them, not so daft after all.....

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    “We turn it into a rock, basically.”

    Can't help feeling that an awful lot of people have been killed by rocks, basically, over the years.

    OK, maybe not as efficiently, but even so... I'm assuming, just from energy transfer requirements, that this is a single-incoming at a time handling device? You'd need a bunch of them to handle a bunch of mortars, or a mortar firing fast enough to have more than one in the air at the time?

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: “We turn it into a rock, basically.”

      Yes, in ancient warfare catapults killed lots of people, but that tended to be because of the unit formations that were used. A 1000 men standing in a tight formation gives a pretty good target. The modern militaries use far more distibuted deployments. So a rock falling out of the sky might if it was super lucky hit 1 man (unlucky if your that man though), but it will not hit more then 1, unlike in the old days where 1 rock landing in a compressed group could kill a dozen...

    2. Psyx

      Re: “We turn it into a rock, basically.”

      "Can't help feeling that an awful lot of people have been killed by rocks, basically, over the years."

      Citation required.

      Trebuchet and catapults are siege weapons, predominantly used for shooting at walls. Infantry in the way would be more of a bonus than the object. Such weapons simply don't fire fast, accurately or far enough to use against dispersed infantry (or even infantry at all really, outside of Hollywood blockbusters). They don't have much range, either. If you are close enough to launch a rock, you have somehow rolled your siege machine well within the effective range of an assault rifle.

  13. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Baby Elephants in platform sole shoes, and flying gliders.

    I am still waiting for the US to deploy the weapons suggested in the book Footfall (although not the "foot" itself).

  14. Andy J

    Why do cruise missiles pose a different kind of problem?

    The article implies that this current technology wouldn't be much good against things like cruise missiles, because the latter do not follow a fixed trajectory and can change course. But since the radar acquisition and laser operate virtually instantaneously (at the speed of light anyway, which at these ranges amounts to much the same thing) even a highly manoeuvrable object would still be in roughly the same place when the laser fires as when the radar located it. Clearly some sort of active counter measures or stealth technology incorportated in the missile might bugger things somewhat, but that wasn't what the article implied.

    A more likely problem with something as large as a cruise missile would be how to accurately point the relatively narrow beam of energy at the right part of the missile to do the maximum damage.

  15. kit

    Drawback

    Laser weapon is not without its drawback. It can only attack ordinances once at a time. Unless your laser gun is powerful enough to destroy incoming ordinance quickly in succession. Missiles are the preferred weapons for multiple attacking targets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Drawback

      It would be nice to know how much time it needs to destroy each shell, as there are veichle mounted mortar systems that have a fire rate above 10 rounds/minute. And while I don't know much about infantry carried mortars I know that they are fairly cheap (though short-ish ranged), which means that it could get overwhelmed.

      Sure, it's version 0.1 tech, and I think that it's aimed more towards defeating cruise missiles rather than mortars, at least that seems more cost efficient to me.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. foo_bar_baz

        Re: Drawback

        Not only that, there are mortars that can fire multiple rounds at the same target using different trajectories, meaning up to 14 rounds from a single weapon land simultaneously (MRSI)

  16. Idocrase

    Well, I don't see a military preparing to deploy new defense systems on a modern battlefield.

    I see a military desperately trying to field test advanced point-defence systems for starships, because they know the invaders are coming.

    1. Don Jefe

      Alien invasion is certainly a possibility!

      The other, obviously far less fun, possibility is that this is how the US military complex really makes its take to the bank in dump trucks profits. The design, manufacture and sale of offensive weapons systems cover the enormous, perpetual operating costs for the defense contractors.

      The defenses against the offensive weapons they just sold you are where the crazy money is at. You automatically get two customers for each defensive systems for each offensive system customer. You get to sell to the people who bought your offensive system (can't be vulnerable to inevitable copy cat technology) and you get to sell to everyone you like, but not so much that you sell them offensive systems. It's a really great way to run a business. It's too bad that it all relates to disassembling people against their will, but that's the way it is.

      A good alien invasion would really do wonders for Earth though.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Pint

        > A good alien invasion would really do wonders for Earth though.

        Indeed. Earth would finally take on its final "cheese" form, like the Moon.

  17. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Re incoming cruise missiles

    Eventually the military want to use the system to shoot down incoming cruise missiles, rockets and artillery shells...

    I can see the point of fighting mortars or even enemy drones. But in the hopeless and futile wars in which the USA currently and in the future engages, incoming cruise missiles etc are rather unlikely to happen. Are they still trying to fight guerrilla with cold war big army tacticts?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Evil Auditor Re: Re incoming cruise missiles

      ".....I can see the point of fighting mortars or even enemy drones. But in the hopeless and futile wars in which the USA currently and in the future engages....." What, like Iraq, where the Allies sorted the major insurgency and put a balanced political system in power, only for the Shia to get greedy and stuff it all up? You must have missed the news where the surge and the Anbar Awakening took care of the worst of the problems (that and kicking Moqtada Sadr's arse twice). Maybe you meant Afghanistan, where the Taleban and chums hide in caves in a minority of the country and the majority is under relatively stable and peaceful rule (well, until Kharzai screws it up again). You seem to be mistaking the inability of Muslims of difference sects to live peacefully together for a Yank military problem.

      ".....incoming cruise missiles etc are rather unlikely to happen....." Rubbish. for example, Iran and China are some of the largest suppliers of weapons to the terror groups the Yanks have been fighting, and the Iranians and Chinese have always given their latest weapons to those terror groups. Hezbollah is an example of how Iran has already given drone tech to a "partner", and during the Iraq insurgency the Iranians gave their latest IED and anti-tank missile tech to the Shias. To close your eyes to the chance of future "guerrilla" groups having cruise missiles, a tech Iran and China have been working on for years, is just to demonstrate how the chip on your shoulder blinds you to the obvious.

      "......Are they still trying to fight guerrilla with cold war big army tactics?" Cold War tactics were major tank battles over Europe, not defending bases against "insurgent" mortar attacks. Please go borrow a clue.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Evil Auditor Re incoming cruise missiles

        What, like Iraq, where the Allies sorted the major insurgency and put a balanced political system in power, only for the Shia to get greedy and stuff it all up? ... Anbar Awakening took care of the worst of the problems (that and kicking Moqtada Sadr's arse twice).

        Woah this is beyond retarded. Or else someone gets his news exclusively from Amurrica Fuck Year Raha-Rah Tacticool Operations mags.

        Probably thinks we should bomb Syria for freedom and stuff. Coz the rebels are all cuddly mockracy-loving Sunni and will pile into evil guy Bashar and kick some arse. Yeah.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Destroyed All Braincells Re: Evil Auditor Re incoming cruise missiles

          "....Woah this is beyond retarded....." Oh, did that immense socio-political chip on your shoulder stop you from switching over from the kiddies' channels to watch some news? Don't tell me, you're one of those "determined to baaaaah-lieve" types that just hates to admit Bush's surge worked. It's only since the drawdown, the handing over of policing to the Iraqis, and the subsequent score-settling of the Shias, that the violence has returned. But you go on hating if it helps you cope, mmmkay.

          ".......Probably thinks we should bomb Syria for freedom and stuff. Coz the rebels are all cuddly mockracy-loving Sunni and will pile into evil guy Bashar and kick some arse. Yeah." LOL, it is so ironic that the people who were all for intervention a few months back (when they knew SFA about the Mid East) have suddenly jumped to the fashionable conclusion that all the rebels are Sunni extremists (because they still know SFA about the Mid East). I'd explain some things to you about the country and its mix of people, but, going on your past posts, it really would be a complete waste of time. Maybe we can hope Oprah will do a special for sheep like you. The really tragic part of the current mess in Syria is that the carefully prepared political message that Assad is now the acceptable option is being so eagerly swallowed by sheeple like you, regardless of how the majority of Syrians seem to want neither Assad nor the Sunni extremists, they're just caught in the middle. Enjoy your stupidity, it's going to last all your life.

    2. Psyx

      Re: Re incoming cruise missiles

      "Are they still trying to fight guerrilla with cold war big army tacticts?"

      'still'? Can you cite to me an example of this happening in the last decade?

      Are you seriously suggesting that our army is still rolling around in MBTs using cold war tactics, while even someone who can't spell the word has figured out that they don't work? It's kind of crucial for Officers to be able to understand conflict and use the correct tactics. If you have figured it out, then they (what with being there and all) figured it out a long time before you.

      A very long time:

      We've been doing quite well at anti-insurgency warfare for quite a while. The British caught onto the concept sometime near the end of the 18th Century when they got caught with their pants down a bit, and although America didn't learn about it all until Vietnam, they caught on quite fast.

      Just because we have a military capable of fighting WW3, it doesn't mean they can't fight the war they have just spent ten years fighting, too. People and organisations can do things in more than one way you realise?

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Re incoming cruise missiles

        Psyx,

        Obviously, I have to explain more since my former comment was a bit on the short side. Neither did I write nor mean that the US military didn't evolve from the cold war days. Indeed they are on the technological forefront, probably more than ever before. This is part of the problem why the US military is not winning - their last success was operation Desert Storm. And even that was a hollow victory.

        They, and I explicitly include their government, rely too much on technology to fight a war. They follow the arms race and believe with just enough high-tech weaponry they can win against any enemy. The hollow victory of Desert Storm I mentioned because since then they believe in "blitzkrieg" - a tactic that obviously didn't work ever after.

        Sudan and Libya were quick (and troops didn't touch ground), already forgotten but hardly a success story when you pay attention what's going on now. And their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan was and is a disaster. Eight years in Iraq, do you consider it victory? Twelve years in Afghanistan, do you consider that a victory? (Spare me the propaganda of successful withdrawal from Iraq - the war goes on, it's just more privatised.)

        Psyx, partly I do have to agree with you: it's not only the tactics that is the problem. It's the lack of strategy in Washington that is the real problem. What do they want to achieve in the Near/Middle East? Peace obviously doesn't appear on their menu. It's more like if I come to your place, have a crap, and then I claim your house is mine.

        A word regarding the military capability to fight WW3. The US is currently involved in two middle-sized long-term conflicts and already at its limits of personnel resources. WW3? My arse.

        I fully agree that people and organisations can do things in more than one way - problem is, the only way the USA sees in the mentioned conflict zones is the way of war. That's not a solution. Never was, never will be.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Evil Auditor Re: Re incoming cruise missiles

          You are confusing the post-action failures of politicians - especially Muslim ones - with the successful conclusion of the military action. Desert Storm was a fantastic military success, it's the politicians that have thrown it all away since. Same goes for Afghanistan, where the Allies (in co-ordination with Afghan groups that actually represented the MAJORITY of the Afghans) mounted a lightening campaign to remove the Pakistani-backed Taleban from power. You mention Libya but ignore the successful outcome of other actions such as the former Yugoslavia. The difference? Even despite the intense and historic hostility between the many factions fighting in the former Yugoslavia, the West persevered and the locals were intelligent enough to want peace. It seems the different Muslims sects just prefer endless wars. Just look at Somalia and the never-ending civil war. Or how Afghanistan had twenty years of civil war before the US-led invasion. Iraq was held together under Saddam Hussein by the ruthless eradication of any form of dissent, even by members of his own family.

          TBH, my solution for Iraq would have been partition into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shia autonomous regional states bound into one federated group of states and with the oil money shared. It would probably have led to ethnic cleansing and forced expulsions of those not willing to migrate to their new regions, but it would have allowed all the local politicians to get their snouts into a trough rather than letting the Shias use their advantage of numbers to stuff it all up. Melting pot solutions in the Mid East just don't seem to work, as shown by the Lebanon, so I would think it better to give them each a pot of their own. Afghanistan could go the same route, replacing crude borders drawn by colonialists with new tribal ones.

          But any solution for Iraq or Afghanistan would still have required the subduing of the Iraqi and Taleban forces and their removal from power, which was quite quickly and competently completed by US-led forces in a very successful manner, it's just you don't want to admit it.

          1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

            Re: Evil Auditor Re incoming cruise missiles

            Matt Bryant, we seem to have quite a different definition of success (and quick). Remember Rumsfeld? I consider the campaigns under him (i.e. 2001 to 2006) mostly a failure. And it only partially improved afterwards.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Evil Auditor Re incoming cruise missiles

              "....we seem to have quite a different definition of success (and quick)...." No, it is just YOU that insists the military action and the subsequent political mess are one and the same thing when they most clearly are not.

              In the case of Iraq, Gulf War One had the US-led coalition given the task of evicting Saddams's quite sizeable forces from Kuwait and dagreading them to such a point that they would be a massively reduced threat to Iraq's neighbours. To achieve the objectives set, Bush Senior not only welded together a very disparate coalition (even including Arab dictators) but also mounted the largest airlift in history to get the allied forces to Saudi Arabia. Many so-called experts predicted a bloodbath for the Allies at the hands of Saddam's "elite" Republican Guards - yet it took less than a week for the Allied armour and airpower to carve Saddam's armies to pieces. Please do try and pretend that was anything but a crushing and amazingly efficient military success. The decision to stop at the Iraqi border and hope the Shia could rise and overthrow Saddam was a political mistake, not a military one.

              Gulf War Two was an even more daunting task - invade Saddam's homeland, remove his regime from power in the face of possible chemical attacks and without the support of most of the Arab dictators, defeat the sizeable Iraqi ground and air forces, and do so across a much larger geographical area and with the added threat of jihadis flocking to support Saddam. Yet the invasion was completed in only forty-one days with the comprehensive defeat of the Iraqi conventional forces. The failure to predict or cope with the subsequent insurgency was again a political failing, not a military one.

              Afghanistan in 2001 was another military action followed by political floundering. The objective was to remove Taleban domination of the 90% of Afghanistan under their control, destroy AQ facilities in the country and capture as many AQ as possible. Operation Enduring Freedom kicked off on October 7th 2001 and had driven the Taleban from power by 26th November, when the remnants of the Taleban fled to Pakistan. Post-invasion we had another political mess with the UN and ISAF and complete lack of a plan of how to keep the country peaceful.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: Anon Cluetard Re: Evil Auditor Re incoming cruise missiles

                  "You're a grade a cnut, Bryant!" Thank you for your obviously heartfelt if limited feedback. Whilst others might decry its lack of intellectual or argumentative content, I feel that such efforts should be applauded if only in recognition of what must have been a superhuman effort on your part, no doubt taking up a considerable amount of your day, to manage to type any form of comment. Can I suggest you maybe take an additional week to try and formulate a critique of the military actions at the start of the campaigns mentioned seeing as you somehow seek to disagree with their efficiency or the stated success. Please don't strain yourself in the attempt, merely think of it as a growing process which will - hopefully - help you becoming an engaged and productive member of society.

        2. Psyx

          Re: Re incoming cruise missiles

          "I do have to agree with you: it's not only the tactics that is the problem. It's the lack of strategy in Washington that is the real problem."

          Lack of strategy isn't the issue; it's lack of clearly defined goals and end-points and a consistent way of getting there. Without those it doesn't matter what strategy is in use. The *military* *strategy* I don't have enough oversight of to fairly judge, and via mainstream media would not be a good way to gauge it. However, at the *operational* level and *tactically* there is nothing unsound in play, as on the whole those are well established and what wasn't has been developed.

          "They, and I explicitly include their government, rely too much on technology to fight a war."

          Umm: Good. Technology wins wars and always has. Every major technical advancement gives an advantage and those force multipliers have been shown to multiply rather than add linearly... which was why the allies delivered such a massive kicking to Iraq in 1992, far in excess of expected casualty rates.

          What else would you like to win wars? Numerical superiority? That's a poor force multiplier, but the US has that too. Better training, morale, fitness and quality of officers and troops? Yup: The US has that too. Better C3? Yup: Got that. What asset is it that the US is *not* leveraging to gain advantage? Would you like them to stop spending on new weapons and just throw more warm bodies at the issues instead?

          "Eight years in Iraq, do you consider it victory?"

          Militarily, yes. Because it was. It also resulted in Sodding Insane being removed from power and friendly Gulf State oil reserves secured, with no further threat from Iraq. All with the added bonus of lots of stuff to rebuild and debts to US companies to be racked up. Granted, the country itself is a shit-pit, but as far as the goals of America (rather than the Iraqi civilian population) are concerned, it was a success. And as far as the military goes it was a success too - unless you want to claim that US military strategy should be responsible for stabilising the nation forever more... which frankly is not the job of any army.

          "Twelve years in Afghanistan, do you consider that a victory?"

          Trickier. On one hand, nobody has blown up anything big in the US for a while, which is the logical goal for a 'war on terror'. Militarily it's not been a huge cock-up, either. However, the next generation of Afghan warlords are still ruling their anarchic little bits of turf, churning out opium, so it failed to change things there. But that's nothing new: The British didn't change that a hundred years ago, nor did the Soviets when they tried. 'Stan will always be the same place.

          "The hollow victory of Desert Storm I mentioned because since then they believe in "blitzkrieg" - a tactic that obviously didn't work ever after."

          When you tell me that " "blitzkrieg" - a tactic that obviously didn't work ", can you cite where it was employed as a strategy in 'Stan/Iraq and how precisely it would be useful to use a mechanised force to break through and exploit a weak point in the line *when there isn't a front line*.

          Blitzkrieg is a strategy or operational plan, NOT a tactic. Obviously it doesn't work when there isn't a front line to break through, and obviously it isn't applicable when you can't use mechanised forces due to terrain. It's not that it 'didn't work' in 'Stan: It's that it wasn't applicable, so was never tried. You don't see a screw and use a wrench on it. You don't see someone using a screwdriver on it and tell them they are a failure because their wrench won't work on it, either.

          "What do they want to achieve in the Near/Middle East? Peace obviously doesn't appear on their menu. It's more like if I come to your place, have a crap, and then I claim your house is mine."

          It's about stabilising the region for the people who sell us cheap oil and buy our planes. Those people live in Saudi, UEA, Kuwait and Bahrain. Those people are no longer worried about Iraq invading and have stopped putting up the price of oil. It's about leaving the offending nations in such a state that they aren't a threat and will buy stuff to rebuild, putting money in the pockets of Halliburton and the likes. It is about money and oil. Don't for a moment believe that we do it for the welfare of the people there. Obviously that's a shit thing and I don't like it as much as you don't, but that's the real truth of it, sad to say. Empires do not ultimately conquer and exploit far-off lands for the benefit of anyone but themselves. Rome didn't subdue the Gauls to give them stuff, but to take it.

          " the only way the USA sees in the mentioned conflict zones is the way of war."

          Not true. I'll wager you've never head of Captain Patriquin, which means that you're not fully equipped with a picture of what the mid-game US military strategy was. The man contributed to an evolution in strategy that moved in the other direction to the out--right war that you assume it was.

          And of the other conflict zones which is stays out of, or deals with via aid or diplomacy? The US is not entirely a war machine and does employ other tactics.

          "A word regarding the military capability to fight WW3. The US is currently involved in two middle-sized long-term conflicts and already at its limits of personnel resources. WW3? My arse."

          Two? Where?

          I don't see that any of the US strategic reserves are committed to conflict. Carrier Battle Groups: Not commited. ICBM: Still pointed at people who have nukes. Strategic nuke-carrying bombers and indeed the vast majority of the USAF: Not busy with anything right now. Vast numbers of MBTs that would see use in large-scale conflict: Not tied up in mountainous Asia. The US has a lot of ground pounders and relatively tactical assets deployed, but not the big guns. And if you think the US wouldn't just up and leave 'Stan in a heartbeat if WW3 kicked off, you'd be mistaken: We'd all load up, ship out, and not give a toss.

          In summery, there is a perception that the US military is stupid and over-committed. It's not. It doesn't just rely on tech-toys, but on being better in *every* way.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "90 mortar rounds"

    Now was that 90 rounds in a single salve?

    Because that would be very impressive.

    1 mortar every 10 secs.

    Not so impressive.

    Otherwise.....

  19. Zmodem

    they can put ray guns on the next gen space shuttle and shoot NEO`s

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/latest/2013/12/10/willetts_man_mars_30_years/?tick=82

    laughing at them solar sails by 2030

    1. Zmodem

      i`ll use my mental powers and get a youtube video put up of them shooting a big rock

      if it fits on a truck, you could carry it up mounted instead of a satelite and space stations

  20. Zot

    The Germans got one a year ago.

    It looks smaller too...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20944726

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if you Miss.

    I may be being an absolute tool here, but what if for example you are pointing straight up and you miss - very high powered laser beam shoots out into space. What happens to it then?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What if you Miss.

      It will be strongly attenuated by the atmosphere and the rest will just continue on its way along the path with zero proper time and slowly spread out.

      1. Psyx

        Re: What if you Miss.

        Damn. Beaten to a chance to use the word 'Attenuates'. I applaud you!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know a modified SHADO Mobile when I see one!

  23. Dr_N Silver badge

    Why does it appear to be parked on a golf course?

    Seems a bit OTT to use it as a putter.

  24. Nile

    The blind spot in your knowledge about lasers

    Any laser capable of damaging a mortar round at a range of a kilometre will blind every human being within a 5km radius - even those who are not looking directly at the target, or a specular reflection from the beam that hit it.

    'Specular' reflections - light reflected off a mirror, or a gun barrel, or your fingernail, will cause permanent damage to your retina, anywhere that isn't over the horizon of a battlefield using lasers capable of taking out a mortar shell. There's an element of bad luck in that, in that specular reflections have a narrow linear path and a short duration - but you get a *lot* of them, bouncing from object to object, and they go a very long way.

    Non-specular reflections - laser light scattered as a diffuse 'backwash' off a matte surface - will cause permanent whole-of-the-retina damage hundreds of metres from an industrial laser (that's why they operate in a totally-enclosed lightproof containment with circuit-breaker cutouts), and battlefield weapons are an order of magnitude more powerful than that.

    Let's spell it out: the laser intensity required to damage a mortar shell is hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than that required to inflict scars, blind spots or total burnout of the human retina. And it doesn't have to be 'visible' light to do that.

    1. Psyx

      Re: The blind spot in your knowledge about lasers

      "The blind spot in your knowledge about lasers"

      Umm, yeah. We know.

      And laser blinding weaponry (or rather weapons designed to permanently blind as their prime function, rather than an accidental by-product) was banned about a 20 years ago.

      Here's one the Chinese built:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZM-87

      If you go on a patrol in 'Stan you'll also note that many troops carry low powered laser-pointers to their primary weapons, just to dazzle and intimidate anyone dicking around.

  25. Nym

    The first unsuccessful test under battlefield conditions

    was in 1974, guess where.

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