back to article US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

After years of promises the US Navy has deployed its first operational laser cannon, which has been built into the USS Ponce and sent into a combat zone. The 30-kilowatt laser weapon system (LaWS) has been mounted high up on Ponce's superstructure, and a flashy video released by the Navy shows it blowing up parts of boats and …

  1. vidura

    science eh?

    however impressive military technology may be, it does not further our understanding of the physical universe. The reg needs another category for articles like this so I can avoid navigate to them more easily. What about 'shooting stuff' or 'shoot fast and often' or just 'blowing stuff up'

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: science eh?

      Well done Sir! You avoided it so vigorously you accidentally entered a comment. bravo!

    2. Richard 81

      Re: science eh?

      What about all those technologies that came out of war that are now used in civilian life all the time?

      Penicillin? Computers? Radar, and microwave ovens as a byproduct?

      Of course, there are plenty of technologies that aren't useful for anything other than killing people, but in this case I'm sure there are plenty of civilian applications for big lasers that can burn things as long, safe, distances.

      1. Tony Haines

        Re: science eh?

        "What about all those technologies that came out of war that are now used in civilian life all the time?"

        Penicillin is a technology which came out of civilian life and was scaled up just in time to be used in war. Maybe the need to treat large numbers of casualties sped up the scale-up, but it would have happened regardless.

        The early computer work was war related but probably had little effect due to failure to complete (difference engine) or secrecy (WWII cypher-breaking classification). By accounts some of the main proponents of computer development (particularly Tommy Flowers) succeeded in spite of the war machine, not because of it. They may well have had the inclination to develop the machine off their own bat if the war had not occurred.

      2. Rol Silver badge

        Re: science eh?

        Yeah! Forget Flame Grilled Whoppers and try Laserated beef medallions at Ruby Rod's Ranchero Cafe.

        It's the future of cuisine perfection, don't you know!

        Bye, bye microwave, rotisserie, cooker, hob and all, and meet the latest in must have kitchen appliances, the Lightwave multifunction food mangler and intruder dispatcher.

        We also supply to crematoriums.

      3. Shovel

        Re: science eh?

        "I'm sure there are plenty of civilian applications for big lasers that can burn things as long, safe, distances."

        Could be great to thwart Japanese Whaling ships. Use the laser to 'ruin' harpooned animals as they are dragged onto the boat. That way the carcass becomes useless to the processing ship.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: science eh?

      The headline of the article didn't give you a clue then? Just asking.

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: "Ponce"

      Naming a ship after effeminate men. How appropriate for the US armed forces....

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: "Ponce"

        And there was me thinking it was a someone who lives off the earnings from prostitutes -- and from that my first recollection which is of scrounging something off someone else. 'Can I ponce a ciggie off you?'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Ponce"

          I think you'd probably get something else than a ciggie (or tab) if you asked someone up north that, probably a bloody nose. Ponce up here usually follows the original posters usage.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Ponce"

          to use the colloquial term, at least around London, that phrase should be "can i ponce a fag off ya?"

      2. Nehmo

        Re: "Ponce"

        The meaning of "ponce" you are referring to wasn't common when the ship was christened in1965. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ponce

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Ponce"

          urban dictionary? _THAT'S_ your source reference to prove your point?

          (not saying it's wrong in this case, just when you googled it, nearly any other result that was returned would have been a more reliable one)

        2. bjr

          Re: "Ponce"

          This sounds like a case of two peoples separated by a common language. Ponce is just a name in the US, I've never heard it used as anything else. Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, that's the best know Ponce.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: "Ponce"

            "Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, that's the best know Ponce."

            By now Ponce da Quirm might be more famous to much of the Reg's readership

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Ponce" @the Vogon

        You are an ASS.

        One that enjoys shirtless pictures of Putin way to much.

        How about trying that statement around a few Marines instead of anonymously on the web?

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: "Ponce" @the Vogon

          >How about trying that statement around a few Marines instead of anonymously on the web?

          I like the irony, posted as AC.

      4. GBE

        Re: "Ponce"

        Really?

        We have to explain this to you _every_ friggin' time there's an article about this ship?

        The ship was named after the city in Puerto Rico, which was named after the Spanish conquistador who became the first Spanich governer of that island. The connotation (which is strictly British BTW) over which you are giggling like a 12-year old didn't come into use until later. One might more logically ask why Brits named effeminate men after after a Spanish conquistador.

        1. Vociferous

          Re: "Ponce"

          > One might more logically ask why Brits named effeminate men after after a Spanish conquistador

          Not familiar with British stereotypes of other nationalities, I take it?

      5. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: TheVogon Re: "Ponce"

        May just be me, but I remember the Vogons as being extreme beureacrats, not homophobes.

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: TheVogon "Ponce"

          >extreme beureacrats

          The butter police or something?

        2. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: TheVogon "Ponce"

          "I remember the Vogons as being extreme beureacrats, not homophobes."

          We are not great fans of sexual deviancy - unless it involves our grandmothers and / or moist peat, but I can't see anything referring to that in my original post? Or are all queers effeminate? - I must have missed that if so...

      6. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "Ponce"

        You really have no clue do you? Did you even check to see if that's the whole name or the shortened version? Have a downvote.

      7. CarbonLifeForm

        Re: "Ponce"

        Unaware Juan Ponce De Leon was a poofter...

    5. VeNT

      Re: science eh?

      May I nominate it be called ka-fucking-boom? Wonder if anyone will get the early 2000s reference.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: VeNT Re: science eh?

        "....called ka-fucking-boom?....." Shirley, given the expected progression through 9K to 10K, this is the BFG1K?

    6. veeguy

      Re: science eh?

      Hows about you use your native intelligence to drill down through the obvious text of the heading like- *NAVAL*, *WEAPON*, *LASER CANNON*, etc and decide it's a story you don't care to read?

  2. cosymart
    Thumb Up

    USS Ponce

    I thought that this was a wind up...There really is a USS Ponce. Named after an American lobbyist by any chance? :-)

    1. RISC OS

      Re: USS Ponce

      Really??? what's the sister ship called? USS Pimp?

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: USS Ponce

        Surely the sister ship of the Ponce would be the Ho?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: USS Ponce

          USS Yoo-Hoo

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: USS Ponce

          No, the sister ship is known as the USS Reagan... ;)

      2. NeilPost

        Re: USS Ponce

        As it's now an OFCOM approved word, unlikely to get removed by the PC mob, can we look forward to the UK ship HMS Queer ?

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: USS Ponce

          Its maybe a clever psychological navy battle tactic - the enemy identifies the ship and then spends the next half-hour sniggering, giggling and pointing fingers at it. During which time the navy can either make their escape or press home an attack?

          At least for enemies that don't know their history or pronounciation anyway.

        2. Alfred

          Re: USS Ponce

          "can we look forward to the UK ship HMS Queer ?"

          You've already had HMS Oberon, king of the fairies :)

        3. Elmer Phud

          Re: USS Ponce

          Nah, HMS Cadge

        4. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: USS Ponce

          Or HMS *******.

          I couldn't actually write the word, but it's in countless British films pre-1980.

          1. Bloakey1

            Re: USS Ponce

            "Or HMS *******.

            I couldn't actually write the word, but it's in countless British films pre-1980."

            Would that be HMS Poofter?

            She went down on all hands off the coast of Lesbos. It was a hell of a mess and took the crew of HMS Venus weeks to clear it all up and their poor cabin boy suffered from a severe rectal pane <sic> ever after.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: USS Ponce

      I've always known her as the USS Ponce de Leon [LPD-15]. Heck, I spent a week sleeping on her when my tin-can (Destroyer) was out to sea while I was attending a school. She's been around forever, well since 1971 according to Navy sites.

    3. Bloakey1
      Happy

      Re: USS Ponce

      As an ex infantry man, my intellectual bias is supplying me with images of sailors mincing across the deck with their arms on hips in a "where is my lino?" pose.

      look up the golden rivet and google, this is one ship where you do not want to go looking for it.

      I was amused by the assertion they made that it would not be used on human targets! of course not, ships do not do that kind of thing. They will of course use it on various receptacles containing human targets so that is alright then.

      I would also like to apologise for the inter service banter and the assertion that all sailors are gay, as we know only 99 per cent of them are.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: USS Ponce

        "As an ex infantry man, my intellectual bias is supplying me with images of sailors mincing across the deck with their arms on hips in a "where is my lino?" pose."

        I'm guessing this is your mental image (except with different uniforms).

        1. Elmer Phud

          Re: USS Ponce --Lino?

          Lino?

          I'd be wondering where me washboard had gone.

    4. Irongut

      Re: USS Ponce

      Phrasing BOOM!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: USS Ponce

      The Royal Navy, lovely though it is in it's own way, isn't what is was. The USN is obviously much larger and better. However, the RN have way cooler ship names. Possible historic exceptions : Classic D class destroyer HMS Dainty. Or, in post hogwartian context, Leander class frigate HMS Hermione. However it might open the doors to an HMS Voldemort, which would be hilarious.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: USS Ponce

        And for those who truly want to believe in something other than reality, there's been several named: HMS Unicorn.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: HMS Unicorn

          Indeed there is a HMS Unicorn, build in 1824 and still afloat in Dundee!

          Not exactly in fighting condition, but if the gov makes any more cuts we might need to press-gang in into service once more :(

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: HMS Unicorn

            "if the gov makes any more cuts we might need to press-gang [HMS Unicorn] into service once more :("

            Presumably it couldn't be made ready in time to help out in the incident off Scotland a couple of weeks ago, when a suspected Russian submarine was observed not far from the UK base at Faslane.

            The UK, now having no maritime patrol aircraft of its own (!?), had to call for support from maritime patrol aircraft from the US, Canada, and France. That's what friends are for. (What's Trident for?)

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11283926/Britain-forced-to-ask-Nato-to-track-Russian-submarine-in-Scottish-waters.html

            http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/how-the-hunt-for-the-red-december-in-scottish-waters-exposes-the-gaping-hole-in-brita.26083433

      2. carrera4life

        Re: USS Ponce

        My next door neighbour was chief petty officer on HMS Hermione and as part of the Royal Navy's family day, I was fortunate enough to spend the day on board, mostly in the ops room. Firing blank rounds from the mortars was amazing, as was the "attack" fly by of the harriers...

    6. Joefish
      Pirate

      Re: USS Ponce

      Rest assured the US Navy (and much of the UK armed forces) were equally amused by the commisioning of F93 HMS Beaver (1984-1999). Although there was an affinity with the new Beaver-Scout movement, it was already the tenth RN vessel to be commissioned under that name.

      1. Cliff

        Re: USS Ponce

        Sister ship USS NONCE

      2. Vociferous

        Re: USS Ponce

        'Beaver scout'. That's... inspiring.

  3. IainT

    It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

    Discoverer of Florida (although the natives had been aware of it for millennia) and a former Spanish governor of Puerto Rico.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

      So, they could have called it something pretty cool - the USS De León - but they called it the USS Ponce instead?

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

        Or swap a few letters around and call it the USS Delorean.

        I wonder how many lasers can be powered with 1.21 jigawatts.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

          "I wonder how many lasers can be powered with 1.21 jigawatts"

          Just one. But it's a big bastard.

        2. Ginger

          Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

          Assuming jigawatts is a bad pronunciation of gigawatts, at the expected top end of LAWS powers it's about 8000 (8066 to be precise)

          1. DuncanL

            Re: Assuming jigawatts is a bad pronunciation of gigawatts

            I believe the phrase "Whooosh!" was invented for situations such as these....

            (Hint; watch "Back To The Future")

            1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Assuming jigawatts is a bad pronunciation of gigawatts

              Although jigawatts brings to mind images of Austin Powers and laser jub'd fembots.

              Makes a change from sharks I suppose.

              Coat? Mine's the slighty grubby mac, thanks.

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

            Assuming jigawatts is a bad pronunciation of gigawatts

            Technically gigawatts should be pronounced with a soft 'g'. it's the same Greek root as words like giant and gigantic. In English the hard 'g' has become pretty much the standard thanks to the way the US computer industry uses it (except when used for the purposes of time travel).

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

              If we're getting all technical (and ignoring the cultural reference), the Greek letter Gamma (Γγ) is pronounced somewhere between a 'G' and 'Y'. Greek has no equivalent of 'J', the closest being τζ or δζ.

              Anyway, the technical incorrectness makes the film more enjoyable, not less, so who cares?

      2. ian 22
        Headmaster

        Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

        I believe it was named after the city of Ponce in Puerto Rico (a colony of the U.S.).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

        {Snort} I was stationed for six and a half years on the USS Leftwich. Upon receiving the orders to her, I asked the Chief Personnel-Man: "What's a Leftwich?" He replied: "I don't know." I had to go off and find a copy of Jane's "Fighting Ships" to answer that.

        [She, the USS Leftwich [DD-984], was named after one crazy Colonel in the US Marine Corps that repeated went into a crashed helicopter in Vietnam to rescue his men. He died of injuries sustained. He earned the Navy Cross for that, aside from already holding a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. Like I said, crazy ;-). And yeah, I still miss my ship. Which proves I'm just as crazy, but we knew that. Didn't we?]

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

      So, Juan was the ponce. Who was Leon?

      1. AbelSoul
        Coat

        Re:Juan was the ponce. Who was Leon?

        Juan Ponce or two?

      2. Tim Jenkins

        Re: It was named after the explorer Juan Ponce de León

        Presumably Leon was his 'friend' ; )

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ACME MIRRORS INC

    Wonder if you could reflect the beam back at the American aggressor with something shiney and reflective? Wonder if Graphine could absorb the energy?

    1. Darryl

      Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

      Possibly, but unlikely. From the video, it looks like the first indication that you're being 'lasered' at is that things start glowing red and exploding.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

      well, it's a laser, so presumably it's own internal mirrors defining the laser cavity are reflective enough (unless it's beam combining multi-laser). Whether or not such mirrors will work/stay clean/be correctly aligned/whatever when they're on your T-shirt is another matter. Might be better to stay camoflaged rather than try to be visible but shiny enough. Especially if they also have ordinary weapons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "unless it's beam combining multi-laser"

        It is, at least according to some other report I read a few days ago. Half a dozen or so combined into one. Sorry, can't remember where, but you know the usual routine.

    3. Jan 0

      Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

      You could cover your vehicle with corner reflectors. Nonetheless, you'd still have the same problem that the Ponce's laser has. One spot of sea spray or seagull poo on the front of the optics and it all goes pop. How can you keep them dirt free? This looks like a fair weather weapon to me.

      1. Richard Scratcher

        Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

        Any dirt or guano affecting the laser's output would cause it to overheat. Its temperature could be continuously monitored and a warning given to the operator should it reach dangerous levels - e.g. "Laser temperature critical, exercise extreme caution."

        1. theOtherJT

          Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

          Great, now I have this image of some naval gunner furiously hammering the escape key, overriding the thermal shut down and hoping to keep the pulse lasers firing for long enough to take down that madcat before the LRM batteries reload...

          1. launcap Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

            > long enough to take down that madcat before the LRM batteries

            hmmmm.. Madcat II. My favourite (albeit heavily customised) mech..

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

          Warning. Heat level critical. Shutting down.

          (Followed by frantic Ctrl+O-ing to override it)

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: ACME MIRRORS INC

      Wonder if Graphine could absorb the energy?

      Absorbing the energy is absolutely the last thing you want to be doing, unless you want to get very hot, very quickly.

  5. Andrew Tyler 1

    Looks like it traverses and elevates exceptionally slowly relative to standard guns. I wonder if the innards can only take so much acceleration. Anyways, how can I be anything but positive about actual working laser cannon, even if they are terrible weapons of war. Hopefully they'll be shooting down flying cars and enemies on jetpacks before we know it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've been looking at optical weapons systems since the '80's. One real problem, aside from the cleanliness and thermal blooming, is keeping the damned thing in alignment. On a surface ship you also have problems with keeping it on target as the platform (ship) is almost always moving some direction or three. (Even in port!) That's a known class of problem since we also have to keep our satellite antennae correctly pointed. Oh, and you assume that the platform isn't performing radical maneuvers 'cause somebodies not sent a plane, torpedo or missile your way. Less chance of that on an amphibious vessel such as the USS Ponce, though.

      What I wonder is why they haven't taken a directed energy weapon (laser), used the thermal blooming problem as an and drop high-voltage into the plasma. Should do a proper number of a lot of things, not just drones. Especially if you use a beam right up there in the green/nitrogen frequencies. Oh well.

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        There is a cracking episode of Horizon available on iPlayer, called the Race to Ruin. It dates from the 1981-82 series, and is about the US military industrial complex. Laser weapons are shown in the episode, and it explains why they are not practically viable (at least in the early eighties).

        It's great. Watch it.

      2. breakfast

        If you've been looking into optical weapons for that long, either they're very ineffective or you're lucky to have kept your eyesight...

    2. Bloakey1

      "Looks like it traverses and elevates exceptionally slowly relative to standard guns. I wonder if the innards can only take so much acceleration."

      <snip>

      This is true but the ship in question is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson which effectively means it has its own supply tanker of KY jelly standing by. This means that acceleration of the innards and rapid erectile traverses, elevation and blow back are mitigated by the constant application of the said product.

      Having said that, my military specification was "Deep Penetration of the Enemy's Rear" make of that what you will.

  6. chris lively

    Sounds like the enemy just needs to cover everything with silver / mirror paint. Of course, then it becomes far easier to see them coming...

    As far as stopping the laser, drop a tar bomb on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Polished metal mirrors are not perfectly reflective, at least not at all wavelengths. From a quick check on Wikipedia, silver is no better than about 95% below 1000nm (and even worse at visible wavelengths). You can do better with carefully designed optical surfaces (interference based mirrors), but those aren't something you just paint onto a surface. Depending on the beam spot size, even 5% of 30KW might deposit enough heat to tarnish the brightly polished mirror that you've somehow managed to maintain at sea, and "tarnish" is not generally highly reflective.

      (That said, I'm assuming they are seriously over-selling the capabilities, and when they say it "performed flawlessly in tests", I assume that translates to "100% of the money we spent on it went to defense contractors"...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Polished metal mirrors are not perfectly reflective, at least not at all wavelengths."

        No, but I wonder what would happen with a glass light pipe or fibre optic type of defence, or even a coating of simple glass spheres? I'd be VERY interested to see the videos of trials of this weapon system against this sort of materials. Even simple reflective chaff would seem likely to risk eye damage to anybody unfortunate enough to be looking towards the target in the fraction of a second before it burns through.

        I'd accept that you'd still take out the target, but the countermeasures could already have been effective in "sharing" the damage. We're already using $1m missiles to take out Toyota pick ups in Syria and Iraq. Perhaps the price of blowing up an Iranian gunboat will be blinding a couple of unlucky US fast jet pilots and a handful of seamen? Glass spheres or prisms could have a very interesting effect:

        "Ensign!"

        "SIr, yesir!"

        "Target that Palantir"

        "Errr...is that wise sir?"

        "Just do it"

        "Yessir!

        "Oh bugger"

        It is worth bearing in mind that various middle east nations have shown themselves adept at asymmetric warfare, countering technologically advanced forces with simple, cheap techniques. If the US picks yet another fight with the locals the results could be interesting if this thing is around.

  7. Hurn

    Or, drop a tar bomb on any target which is silver / mirror painted. Then target the tar with the laser.

    Toasty

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Or, drop a tar bomb on any target which is silver / mirror painted. Then target the tar with the laser."

      If you can drop a tar bomb on it, why not just drop a bomb on it?

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        "why not just drop a bomb on it?"

        Because new toys are always so much more fun.

        I was watching a tv programme last night about the 1304 siege of Stirling Castle. Edward I has besieged it for 4 months to no avail, until he got his engineers to come up with the biggest trebuchet ever made. On seeing it, the Scots surrendered and came out, but Edward refused their surrender and sent them all back inside just so he could try out his new toy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "On seeing it, the Scots surrendered and came out, but Edward refused their surrender and sent them all back inside just so he could try out his new toy."

          A man after my own heart.

          1. Lapun Mankimasta

            A man after my own heart

            with a knife and fork and a spot of worcestershire sauce

            1. harmjschoonhoven

              Re: A man after my own heart

              In 1304 you used your fingers and brought your own knive.

  8. Martin Budden
    Boffin

    cloaking metamaterials?

    Just a thought...

    We've all heard of cloaking metamaterials which will (one day) bend light around a shed/tank/boat. While it's true that this stuff is still in its infancy, when it is actually scaled up, presumably it will provide 100% protection against lasers because the beam will just bend around and continue on its merry way?

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: cloaking metamaterials?

      Yes, but metamaterials still need to interact with light to bend it around the object, so wouldn't the same problems exist with dirt, sub-100% efficiency, limited wavelength response, etc. exist with these as already discussed with mirrors?

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: cloaking metamaterials?

        I can see (no pun intended) how dirt and sub-100% efficiency might cause problems, but limited wavelength response shouldn't be an issue as long as you pick the wavelength which matches that of the laser. That's one of the things about lasers: precise single wavelength.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx

    Phalanx delivers 4,500 rounds per minutes, each round a tungsten penetrator with a mass of about 100g, at a muzzle velocity of 1,100 m/s. That's an energy of 60kJ per round, and a total potential power delivered to the target of over 4.5MW. It doesn't worry about fog, smoke, or what type of camouflage the target is adorned with, either. For all their potential, current laser systems look pretty feeble next to old-fashioned cannon-based weapons.

    1. ScottAS2

      Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx

      Matchlock muskets looked pretty feeble compared to pikes, too. Expensive to make, took ages between shots, didn't like bad weather either. I take it you'll be using a pike next time you go to war?

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx

      Phalanx, hmm and goalkeeper. Brilliant weapons, but try and stop an Exocet and you are in deep do do.

      it is early days and the laser in question is very limited in its capability and the way they mounted it (lots of metal to rear and ship has to point or have target on beam) is crappy. But the wonderful Ponce is a test bed and they are just out to prove the concept. From little acorns , mighty oaks grow.

      More to point from little ponces mighty pimps grow.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx

      So, a rail gun fed with a big reel of iron wire. The mechanism chops the wire into segments and feeds it into the accelerating rail. Correct the aim with a radar that brings the hose of metal onto the target. Simples?

      1. launcap Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx

        > and feeds it into the accelerating rail.

        Until the rail deforms because of the torsion and heat generated. At which point your nice shiny slugs are now coming out off-axis and start to shred the rail/crew/hull..

    4. Dan Paul

      Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx @Credas (Agreed with caveats)

      Credas, You would be correct, the best COTS solution is a chaingun.

      However the US Navy is also looking at Rail Guns to replace Phalanx, but the laser could have some capabilities against incoming anti-ship missles as they often present themselves head-on and the speed of light is kind of hard to beat.

      All they need to do is fry the electronics in the guidance section to bring it down.

      Whose to say you could not have multiple weapons sharing the same radar?

      As far as penetrating projectiles go, those from a rail gun would be much faster than those from a chaingun. It does take longer to "charge" the weapon but have you ever seen what one can do? The projectile goes 5,000 miles per hour and ranges approaching 100 miles. (and 32 megajoules of energy at the muzzle) That's like being hit with an asteroid, not much can stop it.

      Look for the video link at the bottom of this web page

      http://www.onr.navy.mil/media-center/fact-sheets/electromagnetic-railgun.aspx

      BTW, mirrors or light guides as anti-laser "armour" are often ineffective. The "Star Wars" program from the Reagan era used spinning mirrors as part of the space based laser itself. They spun to increase wear life but had to be replaced very often as the first surface mirror material would vaporize after a few shots.

      This newer shipboard laser is solid state and is further described in this link:

      http://www.onr.navy.mil/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2014/LaWS-shipboard-laser-uss-ponce.aspx

      In order to do any real damage the ground based laser would have to emit infrared energy (think CO2 Laser) which would melt anything like a mirror in a few seconds or less without even having tar on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx @Credas (Agreed with caveats)

        "the ground based laser would have to emit infrared energy (think CO2 Laser) which would melt anything like a mirror in a few seconds or less without even having tar on it"

        The shipboard laser is infrared too.

        Does the system have "a few seconds" to ensure the mirror or whatever is sufficiently melted to knock down the incoming missile before impact occurs?

        Phalanx seems to win on so many counts.

    5. Jaybus

      Re: Pretty feeble compared with Phalanx

      That depends on the nature of the engagement. The high rate of fire needed for Phalanx also means a limited maximum firing time. It's magazine holds 1,550 rounds, so somewhere around 30 1s bursts. The laser can fire an unlimited number of times and requires no resupply.

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    How well does it work...

    ...if visibility is less than perfect? eg a light sea fret. Do we get to see a steam vortex tunneling through the mist? Can it kill sharks?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: How well does it work...

      I'm wondering that also.. not only sea spray but rain, fog, snow, maybe even smoke? I'm thinking some small support craft with smoke generators would defeat this thing.

      1. Extra spicey vindaloo

        Re: How well does it work...

        If you did make the the hull of a ship reflective, would it create an instant fog barrier as the beam is angled into the adjacent sea?

        "Did we sink it".

        "Don't know sir, too much fog!"

  11. southen bastard
    Happy

    I liked the sound track

    1. Ted 3
      Joke

      I believe that in the current vernacular, I am supposed to respond that the sound track is Sandstorm by Darude.

      But seriously, why did they choose a soundtrack that made it seem like the video was put together by a 16 year old boy showing off his latest kill on Call of Battlefront Duty 3?

  12. Mitoo Bobsworth

    Ponce

    /pɒns/

    BRITISH informal

    noun: ponce; plural noun: ponces

    1. derogatory an effeminate man.

    2. a man who lives off a prostitute's earnings.

    verb: ponce; 3rd person present: ponces; past tense: ponced; past participle: ponced; gerund or present participle: poncing

    1.live off a prostitute's earnings. "he was arrested for poncing on the girl"

    2. seek to obtain (something) without paying for it or doing anything in return. "I ponced a ciggie off her"

    Just for the sake of clarification - make your own conclusions!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Ponce

      "I ponced a ciggie off her"

      Wouldn't "bumming a fag" be more appropriate in the current naval context?

      1. Lapun Mankimasta

        Re: Ponce

        Ahoy scurvies

        The cabin boy was Flipper

        He was a fuckin' nipper

        He stuffed his arse with broken glass

        And circumcised the skipper

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Ponce

          I wonder if they sang that on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Venus_(R50) ?

          At last we reached our station

          Through skilful navigation

          But the ship was sunk, on a wave of spunk

          From too much fornication!

  13. Mephistro Silver badge
    Unhappy

    "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

    I foresee lots and lots of 'unfortunate accidents'. I mean, you won't be much help piloting a zigzagging boat against a warship if you are blind. Ditto about enemy gunners, plane pilots and drone's cameras and targeting systems.

    OMG! What can this thing do to a periscope?

    An enemy with whom you can only engage in fog or rain... This could have very interesting tactic implications.

    1. Kharkov
      Big Brother

      Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

      The US military has lots of ways around the Geneva Conventions. The most famous example would be 'Willy Pete', white phosphorus, used to create smoke on the battlefield but they also start fires - phosphorus, don't you know?

      WP artillery rounds can be used in urban environments without breaching the Geneva Convention so long as... The intended purpose is to create smoke so as to obscure the battlefield for tactical reasons. If a commander uses WP for the primary purpose of burning human beings (urban environments tend to be full of the pesky things.) then he/she is liable to be charge with war crimes. If WP rounds are used to 'obscure the battlefield' and they ALSO burn human beings alive, then the Conventions have not been breached.

      All of which raises the question, how do you prove intent in the mind of the commander? The same thing applies to the laser gun. Use it with the intention of burning human beings alive, causing intense suffering and someone's going to jail. Use it against a boat/vehicle with the secondary effect of burning human beings alive and it's all cool.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

        " If a commander uses WP for the primary purpose of burning human beings "

        That was what Israel did - deliberately directly targeting civilians with WP as a weapon - with results like hitting multiple children in school playgrounds. I'm not aware of the US resorting to that sort of terrorist type tactic though.

        1. Tony Haines

          Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

          "I'm not aware of the US resorting to that sort of terrorist type tactic though."

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus_use_in_Iraq

          //We fired "shake and bake" missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."//

          You are now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

            "You are now."

            But the Americans are at least claiming that they didn't target civilians. We know that the Israelis did deliberately fire at civilians and targets that were obviously primarily civilian in nature - see: http://www.hrw.org/node/81760

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: AC Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

              "....the Israelis...." Fakeistinian* mortars and rockets, fired from Gaza at Israel but falling short, actually killed more Fakeistinian civilians than Israeli drone strikes last year. Those mortars and rockets were, in every single case, fired at Israeli civilians, an actual 'war-crime' in every sense, whereas the Israeli drone strikes targeted known terrorists hiding amongst and behind Fakeistinian civilians.

              *There has never been a people called 'Palestinians' nor an actual state called Palestine. The area known as Palestine is a historic area covering Syria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and - at different historic periods - parts of Iraq, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia. The Mandate of Palestine was a creation of the League of Nations to describe part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire under British control after the Great War, and included many of the lands the Arabs had conquered in their invasion from Saudi Arabia. The creation of a modern 'Palestine' was a propaganda ploy by the KGB and PLO. Even PLO members have admitted this, most famously by Zahir Muhsein, the leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa'iqa faction of the PLO between 1971 and 1979. "....The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity...." More amusingly, Arabic does not have a hard 'p' in their vocabulary, meaning they cannot even natively say 'Palestine', instead using an old Turkish name for a Mediterranean people they are completely unrelated to, the Falastin, leading to the joke about 'Fakeistinians'.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: AC "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

                "Fakeistinian* mortars and rockets, fired from Gaza at Israel but falling short, actually killed more Fakeistinian civilians than Israeli drone strikes last year."

                Considering Israel uses drones mostly for monitoring it's captive Palestinian population and kills most of them via more direct attacks it's hardly a great claim.

                "There has never been a people called 'Palestinians' nor an actual state called Palestine"

                Utter rubbish - the area was historically known as Palestine and it's inhabitants known as Palestinians long before the Jews invaded in the early 20th century. Just read the Wikipedia entry on Palestine. Palestine as an area is mentioned by the Ancient Egyptians and actually predates the original state of Israel.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: AC Re: AC "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used...."

                  "....Considering Israel uses drones mostly for monitoring....." Oh dear, your lack of research also seems to extend to Israeli drone use. The majority of strikes on terror targets in the Gaza Strip are now carried out with drones firing missiles, they started replacing helicopter gunships in that role last year (https://medium.com/war-is-boring/israel-swaps-killer-copters-for-killer-drones-ff55a5db9a17). But, in the years when Israel isn't driven to mount large-scale operations like "Cast Lead" and "Protective Edge", by far the biggest killer of Gazan civilians is Hamas, but they get extra vindictive when Israel makes them look weak (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4706/gazan-hamas-war-crimes).

                  ".....Utter rubbish...." You wish. Every bit is historic fact.

                  "....the area was historically known as Palestine....." Palestine was a much greater area and the term 'Palestinian' referred to Jews, Christians and many other ethnic and religious groups, not just the Arabs that invaded the area in the 7th Century and since. The hijacking of the term 'Palestinian' by the Arabs is a deliberate lie intended to infer sole right to the land.

                  ".....long before the Jews invaded in the early 20th century....." Apart from the fact the Jews had been continually resident in the area for three-thousand years before Islam even existed, the UN Partition Plan of 1948 was based on the demographics of the remaining 24% area of Mandate Palestine left after Transjordan had been gifted to the Arabs. The areas marked by the UN to form the basis of Israel were not just those with Jewish residents but areas where the Jews were in the majority and had been continuously resident for hundreds of years. Even the Gaza Strip had a long history of an indigenous Jewish population from long before the creation of Islam (http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2009/02/gazas_rich_jewish_history.html). So your hilarious statement is easily shown to be wrong.

                  BTW, Israel can be held to the Geneva Convention as it is an UN-recognized sovereign state with legitimate armed forces and is a party to the Convention, unlike the Fakestinians. Israel also has the kind of high-tech military industry required to make laser weapons, unlike their neighbours. Like they say, winners have jet bombers. And tanks, artillery and warships. And probably laser cannons too soon.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: AC AC "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used...."

                    "The majority of strikes on terror targets in the Gaza Strip are now carried out with drones firing missiles, they started replacing helicopter gunships in that role last year "

                    Israel are now admitting that all the artillery fire and small arms fire (the VAST majority of Israeli attacks on the Palestinians) are actually on civilian targets then? I mean it's obvious from the fact that the vast majority of Palestinian dead are civilians - and many are women and children. Unlike the Israeli dead - the vast majority of which are soldiers. But it's something if Israel's hired stooges like you are finally admitting it.

                    "from the fact the Jews had been continually resident in the area for three-thousand years before Islam even existed"

                    But made up only a small percentage of the indigenous population. According to Alexander Scholch, Palestine in 1850 had about 350,000 inhabitants, 30% of whom lived in 13 towns; roughly 85% were Muslims, 11% were Christians and 4% Jews. Non indigenous Jews that had historically nothing whatsoever to do with Palestine started invading in the early 20th century.

                    A good picture of the current situation is here: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/Israel-and-Palestine/

                    "...Palestine was a much greater area..."

                    Right - so admitting that your original post was utter rubbish as stated. Palestine was not "invented", and there were Palestinians long before the non indigenous Jews invaded in the early 20th century onwards.

                    "Israel can be held to the Geneva Convention as it is an UN-recognized sovereign state"

                    One would think, but Israel chooses to ignore it - for instance still building settlements on occupied Palestinian land - and unfortunately there are other terrorist states that are a higher priority to address than Israel. At least while there is oil in the Middle East anyway.

                    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                      FAIL

                      Re: AC Re: AC AC "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used...."

                      <Sigh> More guesswork as to which bit of the history lesson upset El Mod. Part 4....

                      "...."Israel can be held to the Geneva Convention as it is an UN-recognized sovereign state" One would think, but Israel chooses to ignore it - for instance still building settlements on occupied Palestinian land...." And another legal fail! This is another bit of the lawfare drive pushed by anti-Semites - "the Geneva Convention says Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land". It is false for the simple reason that there is no sovereign state called 'Palestine'. The bit of the Fourth Geneva Convention they are trying to apply is (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Geneva_Convention):

                      "Article 2 states that signatories are bound by the convention both in war, armed conflicts where war has not been declared, and in an occupation of another country's territory."

                      'Palestine' is not a sovereign state and does not have recognised borders, and therefore does not meet the requirement to be called a 'country' under the Fourth Geneva Convention, therefore the settlements are not actually illegal and neither is the so-called 'occupation'. Indeed, until the final borders are agreed in a final settlement (which the PNA are bound to by the Oslo Accords), any and all land in either the Gaza Strip or the West Bank could end up being horse-traded for peace and end up as part of Israel.

                      Of course, if the Fakeistinians want to try it, Israel can always do exactly the same with regard to Jews ethnically cleansed from the West Bank and Jerusalem area in 1948, as well as Jews that fled Arab and Muslim countries since (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries#Comparisons_with_Palestinian_exodus) and maybe some of that oil money can pay compensation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries#Property_losses_and_compensation), and the Jordanian Arabs that moved in to occupy Jewish land in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_City_(Jerusalem)) and the City of David in Silwan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_David#Modern_period).

                    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                      FAIL

                      Re: AC Re: AC AC "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used...."

                      "....Non indigenous Jews that had historically nothing whatsoever to do with Palestine started invading in the early 20th century....." Please go reads up on Jewish history <CENSORED! - it may have upset El Mod that I suggested your lack of knowledge was due to an 'education' solely based on Koranic recitals than historical fact> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Jewish_history).

                      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

                        Re: Re: AC Re: AC AC "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used...."

                        I'm rejecting the rest of your rants, Matt Bryant, because we don't work on Sunday nights and that's why eleventy bazillion of your increasingly bizarre posts are clogging up my pre-mod queue.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

        The Americans wouldn't worry about that, they do have a tendancy of dipping in and out of the Geneva convention as and when it suits them.

        Also unlike every other 1st world armed force they don't actually provide a set of 'terms of engagement' in battle, this is something that became aparent in the Iraq war where the British and American were at odds on how to pursue suspects

    2. Thoguht Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Ouch, my eyes...

      My assumption about why LaWS cannot be used directly against humans is that it would fall under Protocol IV of the 1980 Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which prohibits laser weapons being used for the specific purpose of blinding people. However, you are allowed to target people as long as you take precautions to prevent them being blinded, so does that mean you have to aim at their feet? Assuming they aren't wearing shiny shoes, that is. Oh, and bizarrely it allows the targeting of periscopes, telescopes and other optical equipment - that's sure to blind the user, isn't it?

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Ouch, my eyes...

        Being blinded is terrible. But I'm not sure if this was my first concern if being hit by this laser cannon...

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Ouch, my eyes...

        ...so... if it blows up your eyes, it's illegal, but it's fine if it blows up your whole head. Mmkay?

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Ouch, my eyes...

          "if it blows up your eyes, it's illegal, but it's fine if it blows up your whole head"

          AFIK that is it, the convention prohibits weapons intended to cause permanent injury, but not if the goal is killing. A kind of twisted logic that makes sense in only a few situations :(

  14. MrNed
    FAIL

    Laser death via a playstation-style controller? But as any serious FPS fan knows, a mouse is far superior.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      As anyone who remembers Missile Command will know, a trackball is the only way to go!

  15. gh4662

    Really?

    So the only thing they really managed to destroy in the video was a model plane? I guess that's useful if Hamleys ever declare war on the U.S.

    1. John Hughes

      Re: Really?

      Yup, it seems it can take out a wide variety of strapped down chickens.

      Very helpful when you're being attacked by strapped down chickens.

  16. emmanuel goldstein

    LIMITED RANGE

    I don't understand why the range is only one mile.

    My understanding is that for lasers the intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the beam width.

    Whilst some beam divergence is inevitable, one mile seems a very short distance for this to be the limiting factor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LIMITED RANGE

      You've got to keep the beam steady on one part of a moving, and possibly manoeuvring, target while mounted on a moving, possibly manoeuvring, ship, for long enough to cause catastrophic damage or derangement to the target by the attenuated beam - which could be several seconds if you're burning through a protected skin. That's going to become a hell of an ask as range increases, and probably explains why the weapon appears to traverse so slowly - the mount design is driven by tracking precision.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: LIMITED RANGE

      High power lasers tend to heat up the atmosphere on their way. This provides significant (and non-linear) beam attenuation limiting them to a close-counters weapon within the Earth atmosphere.

      Overall, in the battle of gun vs laser I will always bet on the gun. Especially with the "rail" prefix on it. There is f*** all a laser (or a close defence cannon) can do against a hailstorm of unguided lumps of metail falling on it at Mach 7 fired from 300+ miles away. It is not that much different in space by the way (though there particle beams may have a chance too). Ditto for orbital weapons - a salvo of kinetics hitting something at re-entry velocity is no different from a small nuclear strike. Delivering the same amount of firepower with laser is simply not feasible - the atmosphere will dissipate it.

    3. Vociferous

      Re: LIMITED RANGE

      > I don't understand why the range is only one mile.

      It could be that the US isn't being entirely honest in the listing of the capabilities of it's new weapon.

  17. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Less than a dollar per shot

    But he is surely talking in terms of military dollars, which, as is well known, equal to 3,141,592.65 normal US dollars each.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Less than a dollar per shot

      It's also about as relevant as saying it only costs $10 a day, say, to feed a soldier.

  18. Frankee Llonnygog

    Nobody has answered the important question

    Does it go, 'pew-pew, pew-pew-pew'?

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nobody has answered the important question

      Don't know. But now I have this image in my head of a pimply-faces operator at its controls, going 'pew-pew, pew-pew-pew...'

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Nobody has answered the important question

        Nah, you're thinking of a pulse laser.

        A beam laser would sound like 'peeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww' until it overheated, but a full on military laser would be more like

        "pwpwpwpwpwpw...................<wait for heat to drop>, rotate, pull up, line up 'pwpwpwpwpwpwpwp' <note incoming missile from second Viper> Activate ECM, rotate pull up 'pwpwpwpwpwpwpw..boom'.

        Congratulations Commander.

        Now you have 10 seconds to dock before the next Viper launches so you can sell your Slaves and Narcotics.

  19. VinceH Silver badge

    Looking at the size of the laser, all I can say is...

    ...we're gonna need a bigger shark.

    1. choleric

      Re: Looking at the size of the laser, all I can say is...

      Something like a frikkin shark then?

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Looking at the size of the laser, all I can say is...

      Will a whale shark work?

  20. Avatar of They
    Happy

    EMP?

    Just saying.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: EMP?

      Albatross?

  21. fedoraman
    Flame

    Bangers?

    Hmm - bangers??

    At 00:54 in the video, there is an explosion from what looks a bit like a pack of bangers, that are fixed on top of the red target boat. If that's what they are, then its not too hard to set them off, and this demonstration may not be as impressive as it appears.

    1. John Hughes

      Re: Bangers?

      No, they strapped the traditional chickens into cardboard tubes.

  22. Nym

    The U.S. military first tested lasers

    in a combat situation on the ground. Due to the moisture, lack of power resources, lack of 'correctly aligned crystals' [attack me if you wish, I have a 'photographic' memory but sometimes a lack of understanding; a laser is aligned light...however at this time lasers just weren't lasers at some distance] they were an abysmal failure. The Vietnamese captured one and rightfully just left it there; they may not have even bothered to laugh. The failures after that were the power requirements, especially with another abysmal failure (that was an airborne attempt as I recall and I think public sector). I didn't even bother to mention bulk and weight (***aircraft, remember, lol).

    The Army experiment apparently was because the Navy actually bothered them into it via DARPA. Give the Nav this, they are persistent. That first experiment had to be in 1971 or 72.

    It doesn't matter that it was classified.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The U.S. military first tested lasers

      and it's not like moisture or limited power resources will be a problem for a ship in the middle of the ocean, is it.

      1. IglooDude

        Re: The U.S. military first tested lasers

        Moisture? Ermm, fair point... But limited power resources? You've not see a ship's shore power cables inport, or a sense of the electrical load of a SPY1 radar or hull-mounted active sonar? USN Missile cruisers and destroyers have three 2500kW generators. Nimitz-class carriers have eight 8000kW generators. I don't think the ships would even have to shut down all non-critical systems to get the laser going, unless they wanted to destroy the floating continent of Jupiter or something.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least when it enters civilian applications we can shoot down Amazon's drones :-)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly."

    And why would anyone expect the USA to obey any international laws if their own interests are served?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC and is ISIS respecting

      the Geneva Convention?

      1. Farnet

        Re: @AC and is ISIS respecting

        didn't your mother ever teach you two wrongs don't make a right?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC and is ISIS respecting

        "and is ISIS respecting

        the Geneva Convention?"

        Did they sign it then?

    2. Nym

      Why, because the United Kingdom sets an example to us, of course.

  25. Crisp Silver badge

    Geneva Convention

    So it's ok to throw hunks of lead at a human, or set them on fire, or blow them up with explosives; but vaporising them with a laser is out of the question?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Geneva Convention

      Blinding them is the problem, not killing them.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Geneva Convention

        > Blinding them is the problem

        Yes it is. We really don't want little 5 watt lasers mounted on aircraft or tanks panning over the surroundings tens of times per second, instantly and permanently blinding anyone who happen to look towards that tank or aircraft.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Geneva Convention

      Even the "hunks of lead" are covered. No dum-dums. No exploding rifle caliber bullets. No square bullets (that goes back the Brits and India). The list goes on....

      Many military people (all countries and services) miss napalm. Against an entrenched enemy, it works wonders and sometimes it's the best way to clear out a cave system such as what was on Iwo Jima and certain tunnel systems in Vietnam..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Geneva Convention

        "The list goes on...."

        Like no use of White Phosphorus except to make smoke, but the Israelis used USA manufactured WP to deliberately directly attack civilians including schools / children...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Geneva Convention

      The USoA had this added to the Geneva Convention because lasers are a very effective and cheap counter to air superiority. The wattage and focus required to disable a vehicle is significant, however blinding enemy pilots is much easier and lower powered. And the US wont set foot anywhere where they dont have total air superiority. Concern for the welfare of the comman man or the civility of warfare was not the aim with this cynical addition to the convention.

      Technically the Swiss and Swedes added this however I have my tin foil hat on regarding their motivations.

  26. Elmer Phud

    Any good?

    How does the Laser (sorry, have to use a capital letter there to stress the importance of the huge financial outlay) fare when a cheap Maplin fogger is used to try and counter it?

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: Any good?(@ Elmer Phud)

      "...when a cheap Maplin fogger is used to try and counter it?"

      Don't know about Mapplin foggers, but read somewhere that pettyfoggers can be terribly expensive. ^_^

      On a more serious note, it wouldn't be too cheap, accounting for scale and Industrial/Military Complex overhead.

      A more economical system would probably include some kinetic weapon (probably a Phalanx or similar) shooting projectiles tailored for creating big columns of water droplets along the laser's trajectory. A few of those 'water columns' would probably turn the laser from a deadly menace into a pretty lights show. My guess is that 20mm including a small amount of high explosive and sodium would create lots and lots of droplets, smoke and water vapour.

  27. Peter2 Silver badge

    >"under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly."

    You mean under Protocol IV of the Geneva convention?

    The one the American's still haven't signed up to?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Well.. think about it for a minute. Up against such players as the ISIS or whatever the hell they call themselves, suicide bombers, etc. what would you do? Sign the Convention, play fair, and expect them to play fair? Go back in history... Vietnam. Both the French and US tried to follow the Convention but got their butts kicked by an enemy who didn't. Same for Korea. If you're fighting an enemy who follows the rules, great... follow the rules. Be they two lines drawn up and exchanging musket fire or waves of infantry. But in the warfare that's building since WWII, the convention is pretty damn meaningless against them. For example, they use (and these are expressly prohibited): non-uniformed military. suicide bombers. intentionally targeting civilians. harsh treatment of prisoiners such as beheading. The list goes on and on.

      So... how would choose to fight them? Follow the convention rules or the enemy's rules only go one bigger. I forget who said it and I'm probably paraphrasing but I find it's true: "In a world of barbarians, the only way to have peace is to be a bigger barbarian then they are. They don't understand anything else."

      1. Farnet

        So, you think that being the supposed figurehead of democratic way of life it is then acceptable to drop out of a humanitarian agreement just so you get better odds.....

        Well that worked for the CIA, 'Bringing the word Intelligence to American Intelligence' , bit of an oxymoron I think.....

        now you have open season as the gloves will be off from all agressors, due to the hypocritical nature of the CIA and all involved.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re-read my last paragraph and give some serious thought about what the threat really is at this point. The threat is from people who don't play by the rules anyway. The only thing they will understand is military force that is bigger and badder than they are.

  28. launcap Silver badge
    Alien

    Wot?

    Can that not extend the range by using the appropriate crystals? I'm sure that T2 Amarr crystals would do it..

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Wot?

      [sniffily] I wouldn't know. I don't approve of slavery.

      If the the good lord had meant us to muck around with ammo and all this targetting malarkey, he wouldn't have invented smartbombs.

      durka durka durka durka durka

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Wot?

      Nothing that the application of a good neuting wouldn't sort out. I wonder if the US stealth bombers have void bombs?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I skipped the article

    And went straight to the comments....

  30. thexfile

    >

    If the glass isn't clean it becomes useless. This kind of optical tech is a waste of money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: > the lenses are...

      quartz, not silica glass. Different thing.

  31. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    It's good to see the US navy is prepared for...

    ... giant cats.

  32. Arachnoid
    Mushroom

    Given the limited range of one mile

    Its letting what ever its shooting at well within a safe distance of the ship i.e. an aircraft would have already launched several weapons by then many miles away and scooted after all its no longer WWII and ground engagement with this weapon in unlikely as any commander taking his ship in that close to shore certainly has a death wish if only from canon fire.

    Besides those small inconveniences it only shoots in direct line of sight so no overhead attacks or explosive decompression about the target then and whatever is behind the target be it friendly or not is likely to get some of the overspill too.

    Yes I know its in beta phase but height seems to be the main advantage point for this weapon.

  33. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Aw, c'mon Obambi!

    i was so hoping Obmabi would recommission the submarine SSN-591 for this project (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Shark_(SSN-591)). Seriously, the guy misses all the good gags.

  34. Brian Allan 1

    "under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly" Ya, right! As if those attack boats are robotic!!

  35. Lapun Mankimasta

    Countermeasures

    anything that can deflect the beam

    anything that can diffuse the beam

    anything that can overwhelm the targeting

    anything that can make the laser overheat

    location - on the sea

    targets - other ships, boats, aircraft

    sending a flood of small drones at it, loaded with marbles and smoke bombs should work a treat. then, once the air inbetween has been "tainted" with airborne glass globules and smoke, you send in even more, and if everything goes to plan, the laser overheats trying to penetrate the airborne mist it has itself created.

  36. CCCP

    War = Fear

    Ergo, laser dooda = more fear.

    That is why they are sending this pea shooter to the gulf. Watch them go to the China Sea next, for more "sea trials".

    The effectiveness discussion here is nice, but misses the wider point.

    An interesting moral discussion is in whose hands you'd want this tech, once functional. US? China? Europe? Probably a moot discourse since the US are the only ones even close.

    If you really want to turn up the temperature, imagine USS Ponce rocking up in Estonia. Putin would go /even more/ nuts.

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: War = Fear

      Sir,

      I would like to inform you that USS Ponce does not "rock up" she "minces in" with a full compliment of seamen.

  37. harmjschoonhoven

    The times have changed

    After his victorious battle at the Kleidion pass on 29 July 1014 the Byzantine emperor Basil II (976-1025) blinded about fifteen thousand bulgarian prisoners of war, with the orders that one man for each hundred be left one eye so he could be their guide. Blinding was much used at the time as the more Christian penalty because God-given life was not taken.

  38. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    There is a big problem here

    When this kind of power is given to people who apparently like that kind of music...

  39. Kriilin

    The thing with most traditional countermeasures is they're deployed upon detection of the threat, i.e. detection of a missile/torpedo launch. Hard to do that when it's coming at you at the speed of light. In addition, since it's a mobile gun, the line of sight is always changing.

    As for previous giggling over the "Ponce", if it has frikken laser beams, what will the "USS Clint Eastwood" have for ordinance?? :O

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019