back to article In assault on American values, Lockheed blasts pickup with raygun

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a new laser cannon prototype by using the weapon to punch through the engine block of a small truck from a mile away. The device, dubbed ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset), was – according to reports – able to burn through the vehicle's engine manifold "in a matter of seconds," disabling …

  1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Coat

    30Kw laser?

    Vehicle mounted?

    Not many vehicles can output that sort of power other than say, for instance, a nuclear powered aircarrier.

    Nah no military application whatsoever......

    Mines the one with the guide to Nuclear Wessels in its back pocket...

    1. beast666

      My Renault Scenic outputs 90Kw.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        input vs. output

        beast666: "My Renault Scenic outputs 90Kw."

        IANALE (I am not a laser expert) but I think you might need to put in a tad more than 90kW in order to get 30kW out :-)

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: input vs. output

          I think you might need to put in a tad more than 90kW in order to get 30kW out :-)

          It's lucky there are engines that produce more than 90kW then!

          As always it depends on the technology, but some laser systems have efficiencies far higher than that.

          And I doubt it was fired continuously for very long. If the prototype has to illuminate the target for a minute (which it probably didn't) it only needs a battery pack or capacitor capable of delivering 500Wh (multiplied by the efficiency factor of whatever technology you're using, which could be anywhere from 1.5 to 4 based on some quick research).

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge

            Re: input vs. output

            A Challenger 2 tank engine will put out close to 1MW.

            1. cosymart
              Mushroom

              Re: input vs. output

              (Challenger Tank) And 120mm HESH & APDS shells! Not forgetting the 2 machine guns. Who needs a laser?

              1. BlackKnight(markb)

                Re: input vs. output

                well if your laser could do as much damage as that 120mm at similar ranges. the advantage would be not having to carry large quantities of explosives next to the crew.

                This could also mean less weight or more armour. assuming you dont have to replace the shells pound for pound with fuel or batteries.

                1. John 62

                  Re: input vs. output

                  Electricity is a wonderfully adaptable thing, e.g. if all your weapons were lasers, you could divide your power budget more flexibly, like providing more speed if you don't need to fire. However, the batteries and fuel required to store the energy needed to create the electricity would probably not be much safer to transport than explosive munitions.

            2. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: input vs. output

              "A Challenger 2 tank engine will put out close to 1MW"

              A sabot round from the Challenger 2 tank will make a bigger mess of the car than the laser did too. And it would take about 1 second.

              1. Simon Harris Silver badge

                Re: input vs. output

                "A sabot round from the Challenger 2 tank will make a bigger mess of the car than the laser did too. And it would take about 1 second."

                Assuming the problem is to immobile the target rather than obliterate it, there might be less chance of getting any useful intelligence out of the occupants afterwards with a sabot round than a laser aimed at the engine.

        2. RobHib

          @John H Woods -- Re: input vs. output

          Even batteries could give you several hundreds of kW if the duty cycle was long enough; moreover, reasonably small engines of hundreds of kW are commonly available.

          What's more conceivable and disturbing is that it's possible that such devilish machinery could be more likely to get into the hands of terrorists than it would be for nukes to do so.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge

        @beast666

        My Renault Scenic outputs 90Kw.

        Good point. To put the directed energy weapon prototypes in perspective a RPG delivers very roughly a million times that amount of energy from half a mile away at a very low cost.

        The main point of expensive weapons system is to funnel tax revenue such that a large amount of money finishes up, via corporations, in the control of a very few individuals.

        1. Chemist

          Re: @beast666

          "a RPG delivers very roughly a million times that amount of energy"

          kW is a unit of power not energy.

          If you meant 90 kJ are you seriously suggesting that a RPG delivers 90E9 J ? For comparison TNT has an explosive yield of ~4 MJ/kg.

          Please show your workings ! (90E9 J is the rough yield from > 20 tonnes of TNT) That's some RPG. Shoulder launched ?

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            @Chemist

            "a RPG delivers very roughly a million times that amount of energy" ... kW is a unit of power not energy... If you meant 90 kJ are you seriously suggesting that a RPG delivers 90E9 J ? For comparison TNT has an explosive yield of ~4 MJ/kg.

            Please show your workings ! (90E9 J is the rough yield from > 20 tonnes of TNT) That's some RPG. Shoulder launched ?

            ***********************************************************************************************************

            I am old now (and possibly senile), but when I did this sort of thing as an explosives chemist for MoD over 40 years ago the rough rule of thumb was 1 cubic inch of composite HE generates 7million HP when it goes bang.

            Many of us get confused about energy power and and the rate of doing work. I can get confused with units because when I was at school, we learnt ft-lb/sec, then c.g.s, then m.k.s; and then, when I was working, SI units. So, to see if I am in the right ball park, a few numbers:-

            Petrol (which is a lot more energetic/Kg than TNT as it has no oxygen contained within it) has 8 MJ/L or 44.4 MJ/kg - In a 90 Kw car, that 1 kg would allow it to travel very roughly 15 km in 15 mins - The engine uses that 44 MJ in 900 seconds or very roughly 0.05 MJ/s (It doesn't because petrol engines are ~30% efficient).

            TNT only has 4.7 MJ/kg. The more powerful composite high explosives would have >5 MJ/kg. A RPG warhead contains ~0.2Kg of explosive so that would be ~1 MJ. The velocity of detonation of composite is ~8000 m/s, and the maximum distance the detonation front has to travel within the charge is ~0.1 m. So the explosion takes 0.1/8000 sec or 1/80000 sec, therefore the RPG warhead explosion generates 1 x 80000 MJ/s or 80 GJ/s. Your 90E9 J value (90 GJ) has no time units.

            The calculation based on the MoD rough rule of thumb:-

            1HP = 7.46 E-7 GJ/s, so 7 million HP = 7E6 x 7.46 E-7 GJ/s or ~5 GJ/s. The warhead contains roughly 0.2kg of explosive with a density of ~1.5 which is ~130mL or roughly 8 cubic inches, so the total yield is 8 x 5 GJ/s or ~ 40GJ/s - Obviously this is about half of the "theoretical value" but allowing for differences in explosive material, velocity, and energy transfer; it is pretty close.

            The secret of the large amount of destructive power in a small device is the very short time that it takes to be generated (The velocity of detonation within the charge being 8000 m/s). So, no you don't need >20 tonnes of TNT you only need 0.2 kg. RPGs can be particularly effective as they rely on the "shaped charge" effect, where most of the charge's energy is used to project a similar mass of copper in a jet with a tip velocity of ~10km/s and a temperature of ~500C into the target.

            High explosives are generally classified as such if they have a detonation velocity of >3000 m/s. Gunpowder (black powder) as used in fireworks only has a deflagration velocity of 600 m/s and does not 'explode' unless confined.

            1. Nolveys Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: @Chemist

              It's comments like these that make the El Reg comment section such a pleasure.

              1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                Re: @Chemist

                Laser stabilisation already exists. What do you think paints targets from miles away whilst flying? Plus anti missile would be a perfect application for this, or plopped into a hercules for some hot lase action.

            2. Chemist

              Re: @Chemist

              "a RPG delivers very roughly a million times that amount of energy"

              Your workings still don't show that !

              It mght well deliver a million times the power over the tiny timescale of a detnation but by your own calculations it still only delivers ~ 1MJ of energy. I'm not disputing the fact that a RPG will make a big hole in things ( and indeed in my lab days I've had very small amounts of material do suprising damage)

              1. Chemist

                Re: @Chemist

                I admit in my first reply to your original post I should have really just pointed out that the use of 'energy' instead of 'power' was the problem I had with it.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                2. Tim99 Silver badge

                  Re: @Chemist (again)

                  I admit in my first reply to your original post I should have really just pointed out that the use of 'energy' instead of 'power' was the problem I had with it.

                  Yes, my use of "energy" was unfortunate. I should have qualified it with the word "destructive"; but as I said, I am possibly senile; and I believe that I was using the term loosely. As you have gathered I was (am) a chemist too, and have been for 44 years with Chartered status for over 30 years, so I do actually know this stuff.

                  I suspect that you (perhaps like I would have done before I worked with high explosives) looked at the numbers inferred by my post and thought that they could not possibly be correct - Largish amounts of energy liberated in a very short period of time is outside normal experience for most people - Hence your incorrect assumption that you would need a RPG with a 20 tonne charge.

                  HP, as you know, to be relevant, requires a time unit. That is why I included the car calculation in my reply to you - This shows a larger energy over a much longer time - If the petrol was mixed with a stoichiometric amount of a condensed phase oxidizer (a Sprengel explosive) and then detonated it would also give a large GJ/s result because the detonation velocity would also be in the order of Km/s and the time taken would be similar to a military HE.

                  Energy is the ability to do work - An explosive is powerful because it does that work in a very short time.

                  Regards, Tim

                  1. Chemist

                    Re: @Chemist (again)

                    "I suspect that you (perhaps like I would have done before I worked with high explosives) looked at the numbers inferred by my post and thought that they could not possibly be correct -"

                    Sorry no, I'm quite happy with small energy, large power in short time. In a more relevant example for The Reg - a few Joules, giving a powerful flash of short duration in a flash tube.

                    My gripe was just about the use of 'energy' -( I'd just heard an idiot on radio news totally mixing up power and energy )

                    "Hence your incorrect assumption that you would need a RPG with a 20 tonne charge."

                    That was just to illustrate the absurdity of - "a miilion times the energy". Sounds like ths was a cross-purpose problem between us

        2. Meerkatjie

          Re: @beast666

          My guess is that this was funded by Holywood so that they can have a sequel to American Sniper. Cue lens flares and explosions from their favourite directors.

    2. Big John Silver badge
      Flame

      Might be useful as a crowd control weapon. Sweep it across a mob, torch a few hairdos, and hey presto, one highly dispersed mob!

      1. ElectricFox
        Boffin

        and a few retinas for bonus points....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sweep it across a mob

        All mob on disability benefits blind from now on. Theoretically, this usage is prohibited by the "spirit" of the Geneva conventions. Practically, such formalities have never stopped US before. In any case Geneva conventions do not apply to civil wars and police actions. So perfectly legal when used on a MOB.

      3. RobHib

        @Big John -- Right, that's the worry.

        And it'd be devastating at considerably lower powers too (which would make it even more practicable).

        1. Big John Silver badge

          Re: @Big John -- Right, that's the worry.

          > And it'd be devastating at considerably lower powers too (which would make it even more practicable).

          And if it were an IR laser, they could torch hair with less risk of political blowback from burning a lot of retinas. However, I failed to consider the very narrow beam; unless the cannon is exactly at head height and the crowd is on a level field, not much action. Even then, variable height mobs would be a problem.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Big John -- Even then, variable height mobs would be a problem.

            Not for long. The advantage of a laser system is that quite quickly you could ensure the mob was all exactly the same height.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The power output by itself matters much less than the duration this level had to be sustained (to burn the target).

      Now, there is number of questions this whole exercise (unwillingly paid by taxpayers) brings.

      I'm curious how much different would be the outcome if the truck was somewhat more shiny/new (though poor schmucks that will be targeted will surely be riding some rusty tin cans).

      And then, they were shooting the front of approaching vehicle (albeit at less then favorable angle). Add some lateral movement of the target, some other objects getting in the way of the laser beam plus unstable (real world) base of laser gun and even the rusty POS may have enough time to close on the fancy weapon carrier and blow itself up (together with laser troopers).

      It would be also interesting to test if grease (or other melting substance, possibly sandwiched under some plastic cover) smeared on the targeted surface released enough smoke (when lased upon) to create low cost/low tech laser shield. I'm quite sure there's many other cheap ways to defeat it (but DIC will claim otherwise as it has to sell something new and expensive and Army has enough guns already).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Coatings aren't likely to stop a powerful laser for long. The moment it distorts, it creates a vicious cycle. They made that determination when thinking of using a laser to stop a ballistic missile.

        As for being on the move, can't computers compensate for various degrees of motion and still be able to keep a bullet-firing gun on target? Against that, a laser shooting at relativistic velocities should be cake.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "can't computers compensate for various degrees of motion and still be able to keep a bullet-firing gun on target"

          While knowing nothing about weapons systems, I wouldn't have thought this is too tricky. Watch the accuracy of aerial TV cameras for e.g. in F1*, computers are compensating for the flight of the helicopter, turbulence/wind etc. and the output image is incredibly stable.

          If they can do it with cameras at a commercial level, I have little doubt they could do it with lasers at a military level.

          * F1 may be a bad example as the cars have a silly amount of technology in them and for all I know are providing some signal for the camera to track.

  2. ElectricFox
    Coat

    "The current model is ground-mounted, but Lockheed says its goal is to develop a version that can be mounted on vehicles"

    When can we expect the shark mounted model?

    1. Big John Silver badge

      It would have to be carried by multiple sharks.

      1. willi0000000
      2. AbortRetryFail
        Joke

        Are those African or European sharks?

      3. AbelSoul
        Coat

        It'll be a bugger to track the target stably from the sharknado.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If we can solve the power supply issue…

    I'd like one for the bicycle. That'll ensure drivers keep to the 1m clearance rule.

    1. 4ecks
      Flame

      Re: If we can solve the power supply issue…

      I'd like one mounted to the traffic lights. That'll ensure the cyclists stop at the red lights when I'm using the crossings on my walk to work.

      Got one ! -->

      1. Graham Marsden
        Pirate

        @4ecks - Re: If we can solve the power supply issue…

        And I'd like one for those pedestrians who think that because the *cars* have stopped, it's ok to stroll across the road between them, not considering that there may be a biker filtering perfectly legally between the stopped vehicles...

        1. Graham Dawson
          Mushroom

          Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

          ... and I think I'll just nuke the lot of you and drive over the crumbling remains in me jeep.

          LASERs. Feh.

        2. 4ecks

          Re: @ Graham Marsden - If we can solve the power supply issue…

          That sounds like a good idea, maybe even Darwin would approve, after all it would remove some of the dumb-as-f*** pedestrians who seem to own phones that are smarter than they are.

          If it was powerful enough it may even be able to take out the black-cab drivers who u-turn without warning.

        3. Graham Marsden

          Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

          Hmm, 7 thumbs down.

          Seems like on El Reg there must be either a) a lot of idiotic pedestrians or b) a lot of car drivers who think that if they have to sit in a queue then so should everyone else!

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

            I'm surprised they get out that much.

            Desk bunny.

          2. cosymart
            Megaphone

            Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

            @ Graham Marsden

            No just lots of people who wished that cyclists would read and obey the current highway code.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

              No just lots of people who wished that cyclists would read and obey the current highway code.

              That works both ways… it's that same law that says though shall pass cyclist with a minimum 1 metre clearance. 'Least here in Queensland it is.

              'Course I'd like ot not have to use roads or footpaths: I've got some money sitting here, who do I send it to to make it happen?

              1. MrXavia

                Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

                I hate filtering cyclists, they try to squeeze through gaps that they can't, meaning they scratch the cars!

                next time you ruin the paintwork of a car, maybe stop and give your details for the repair bill!

            2. Graham Marsden
              Boffin

              @cosysmart - Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

              You mean like all those drivers out there who all know and obey the current Highway code?

              The ones who don't blast past cyclists with a cigarette paper's clearnace, the ones who don't overtake cyclists and then turn left, the ones who don't stop illegally on zig-zag lines or at the advanced stop line for cyclists, the ones who...?

              BTW before anyone starts with the usual BS, I also think that cyclists should obey the rules of the road, but generally they are only putting *their own* lives at risk, whereas someone who is in charge of a couple of tonnes of metal moving at high speed is putting *others* at risk when they do something stupid and dangerous.

          3. 's water music Silver badge

            Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

            Seems like on El Reg there must be either a) a lot of idiotic pedestrians or b) a lot of car drivers who think that if they have to sit in a queue then so should everyone else!

            I don;t think you made it clear enough that you had in mind a scenario where the traffic light was green but a stationary queue of motor vehicles was present with adequate space between lanes for a cyclist to filter. It is legitimate for either a crossing pedestrian (uk, no jaywalking laws) or a road using cyclist (green light) to proceed. Both have a responsibility to avoid collisions. In the hierarchy of vulnerable road users the cyclist probably has a little more. You could make an argument of courtesy for the pedestrians to yield to the cyclist. You could also make an argument about relative levels or responsibility for either party dependent on how foreseeable it was for the other party to be there. I can only control my own behaviour so when crossing a road on foot or filtering through traffic on a bike I always try to look first and proceed at a pace where I can stop if another road user isn't taking the same amount of care. I found commuting became less stressful if I focused less on feeling wronged and more on how I could cooperate with other road users whilst still making reasonable progress. But yes, like gender politics, OS and smartphone wars, cycling issues tend to attract bloc voters (in both directions) around here

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @4ecks - If we can solve the power supply issue…

              You must have been really itching to click that Reply button on a subject that's more than a year old…

              Yeah, I don't doubt there are some of us on two wheels that do the wrong thing. I do what I can to avoid joining that group and most of the time, I succeed in avoiding being one of them.

              Cars are bubbles of distraction these days however, and anything that alerts a driver that they are too close, is worthwhile.

              In my case, the driver has to be either "driving without due care and attention" (an offence that can lead to fines and demerit points) or legally blind to not see me when I'm riding. Get too close, and you'll know soon enough.

      2. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: If we can solve the power supply issue…

        And I want a body mounted one to deal with all those homicidal pavement abusing cyclists.

        Can they build one into a T shirt for me? Just for me? C'mon, lads - with all that taxpayers' pork it can't be all that hard. Next week by tuesday lunchtime should be doable.

        Bonus if it can get its power remotely from the said cyclist's personal ishinies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If we can solve the power supply issue…

      Stuart, dead easy. You need a old fashioned dynamo, and thighs like chris hoy.

  4. DerekCurrie
    Megaphone

    So Lockheed...

    When are you going to build me my portable EMP blaster? I'm willing to bet it will stop a truck a lot faster than your laser blaster! I'm waiting...

  5. Chozo
    Paris Hilton

    Paris Obviously

    She understands burning holes

  6. ecofeco Silver badge

    Skynet sez

    "Thank you"

  7. Kev99 Bronze badge

    "Whether a laser weapon like ATHENA would be able to train its beam on the same spot on a moving target for the several seconds needed to do serious damage is unclear." Probably will work as well as all those missiles that are fired at stationary targets in the promo tapes.

  8. lnLog

    Did someone say laser goggles?

    Stick a spreading optic and you can blind everyone in a quite significant area. Surely the instant you start trying to burn a hole in the engine block the occupants will already be blind and in the process of crashing?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Did someone say laser goggles?

      Yes but blinding someone is against the Geneva convention whilst merely killing them via crash or exploding vehicle or a plain old bullet isn't for some reason.

      And apparently you can do anything you want if they are enemy combatants.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think a LAW is more effective

    At a range of 1 mi to take out a pickup, a LAW is quite effective. Maybe the range is bit over the usual, but it will work. Repeat fire time is 20 sec, but the smoke trail usually requires moving away from point of fire quickly.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: I think a LAW is more effective

      LAW at 1 mile? I had difficulty qualifying at 500m at warcop, javelin maybe.

      1. cray74 Silver badge

        Re: I think a LAW is more effective

        "LAW at 1 mile? I had difficulty qualifying at 500m at warcop, javelin maybe"

        Hmm. Maybe someone should check Lockheed Martin Missile & Fire Control's Javelin budget for laser funding. Filed under, "Funding lasers to make missiles look good."

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong efficiency of less than 30%

    Todays laser technique is capable of converting nearly 60% of energy into light - especially if you use semiconductor based materials. As far as I see from the very vague description of the weapons type it uses a combination of several beams of lasers using light of different wave lengths. Each of these lasers can be "pumped" up with relative "low" energy of only 100 w. Combining these lasers into a device would result into a more powerfull beam. With this type of technology you can produce beams far more powerfull just by adding more lasers of eather the same, or slightly different, wave length.

  11. Elmer Phud Silver badge
    Alert

    Target car

    Remind me, should I decide to become a bad terrorist overnight (not a 'Freedom Fighter) to never strip the paint of my car (or Toyota pick-up) and park it up at 45 degrees.

  12. Werner McGoole

    Hmm

    So did it punch a hole through the engine block (quite impressive) or did it just damage the "engine manifold"? I'm not quite sure what the latter is, but it sounds like it involves only a fraction of the metal mass of the former. If they meant the exhaust manifold, which would likely be quite accessible, then all you'll have is a rather noisy truck, not a dead one.

    Looking at the picture and assuming the laser is fired horizontally, the hot spot looks too high to be targeting the main block. I'd think 30kW would also take quite a while to heat the mass of an engine to a destructive temperature, what with it being water cooled and stuff. My guess is that any disabling of the truck is most likely to result from burning the electrics. Quite effective, I guess, but not a patch on what even a small amount of high explosive would do.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      "So did it punch a hole through the engine block (quite impressive) or did it just damage the "engine manifold"?"

      Our journo friends at the Reg seem to have written the bit about the block, the comment about the manifold seems to have been the original claim. Maybe the Reg don't know the difference. Given that the engine will be designed to dissipate of the order of 70 kW of heat, I can't see a 30 kW laser troubling the block very much. From the photo it looks as though the laser has tracked across the bonnet in a straight line until it actually damaged something?

      I'll be impressed when military lasers can destroy things instantly, in a battlefield environment (ie movement, countermeasures, smoke, dust). To judge by this and the various airborne and ship mounter lasers there's a very long way to go yet. The other minor problem is that lasers are line of sight, which means short range. Where's the use? As a missile defence they're useless given the short time to respond, and as an offensive weapon it is a lot easier to use guided or stand off munitions.

      All good technical fun, a pity for tax payers funding these attempts to develop new ways of killing people. I'd have thought there's more than enough of those.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        Yes, there's a big difference between the block, a large chunk of metal with channels for (usually) water cooling designed to remove waste heat, and the manifold which is the relatively thin tube that takes air to the engine.

        However, why aim for the engine when it would be so much easier to put the hole through the driver or the radiator or the fuel tank? This looks more like a PR stunt, just as the first time a Star Wars era laser "destroyed" a missile the missile was stationary and held under such compression forces that it crumpled the moment it warmed up. Until this is shown to work under battlefield conditions it's at best a possibility and at worst a hype to get more Pentagon money.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          I'm not buyin the "destroyed the engine" hype. Given the angle of the truck and specifically where the hole is in the hood, it looks like they did more damage to the inside firewall and lower dashboard than the engine. If there was an 8 track tape player in there, I'm pretty sure it got wasted though and the heater no longer works. The hole is at the rear of the hood and if the device was on the ground and the beam(s) were running horizontal and mostly parallel with the ground, they actually missed the majority of the engine and went into mostly space in that engine compartment. They could have "nicked" the head cover of like the 4th cylinder or some such, but I would consider that "damage" not "destruction", but I guess it is just semantics at that point.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            It would also be able to punch a hole through the driver/passenger just as quick.

          2. cray74 Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            "Given the angle of the truck and specifically where the hole is in the hood, it looks like they did more damage to the inside firewall and lower dashboard than the engine."

            The molten metal from the hood had to drip somewhere, and glass-filled nylon intake manifolds don't respond well to molten steel.

        2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Hmm

          However, why aim for the engine when it would be so much easier to put the hole through the driver or the radiator or the fuel tank?

          Indeed, why not go with the other illustration and put it in space? This is a prototype, a proof of concept. The Lockheed Martin people say that they are working on a vehicle-mounted version. If they can achieve that, it seems plausible that orbital laser platforms will be a thing of the near future.

          As for battlefield uses, sure, melting a moving car's bits is pretty cool, but you can do far more damage to the drivers in less time. Perhaps you could target its tires or treads and get the job done faster. However, not all military targets are things that move. I imagine that setting fire to an adversary's camp or the flammable materials being used for cover might prove demoralizing. Back to the possibility of an orbital platform for a moment, this would allow attacks to pretty much any supporting infrastructure that isn't buried underground or wearing a mirrored coating.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmm

            "you can do far more damage to the drivers in less time."

            But the Google BattleTank (Beta) doesn't have a driver, and nor does its Apple equivalent when they invent it.

            So you have to go for some other part of the target.

            "Back to the possibility of an orbital platform ... attacks to pretty much any supporting infrastructure that isn't buried underground or wearing a mirrored coating."

            It's raining. Where does rain come from?

            There's a job for you in Defence Procurement.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Hmm

              But the Google BattleTank (Beta) doesn't have a driver, and nor does its Apple equivalent when they invent it.

              's OK. The GBT (Beta) only fires propaganda leaflets. The Apple iTank only patrols the walled garden, and its ammunition is an amazing new standard invented by Apple that's an order of magnitude more expensive and has unfortunately been discontinued.

  13. Codysydney

    Cost of vehicle mounted anti-truck laser, 2.5 million. Cost of a truck sized mirror, $2,000..

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: corner reflector

        Shhhh.

        Can't have those billion dollar budgets destroyed by simple high school physics.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: corner reflector

          Shhhh.

          Can't tell those "know-it-alls" that optical corner reflectors are only meant to reflect reference beams that, at worst case, rate in the watts at point of impact, meaning the attack laser would be around 1,000+ times its rated capacity. Then you end up just like with the reflective coating: it melts, distorts, and becomes useless.

          1. slightly-pedantic

            Re: corner reflector

            If the first surface the laser touches is simply a good quality white TiO2 paint, then IIRC, around 95% of the incoming radiation is reflected, albeit not back at the target. So 30 KW of light delivered would mean that about 1.5 KW needed to be dispersed. So, if you simply filled a suitable ablative matrix with TiO2 powder, then even without a dispersive effect of any smoke you're sorted. e.g. a phenolic resin matrix can do 200KJ/Kg, assuming a rather slow 10 seconds of attack at 1.5KW we have 15KJ to dissipate, so that hot patch needs to weigh 130g. Assuming that's about a 200mm hole, and assuming you can get away with 50:50 resin to filler whilst maintaining reflectivity- I think you might get away with about a 6mm thick panel and you might not even need to repaint the the car's bodywork after the attack (if you leave an air gap) (assuming I haven't messed up the calculation!).

            I can't help feeling that researching how to make such lasers is a good idea even without a good end application- but surely this needs to improve by a couple of orders of magnitude to start to be a useful weapon compared to projectiles?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: corner reflector

            Since when does a corner reflector have a "rated capacity", for goodness sake? Right materials, right processing => right capacity. This doesn't have to be a bicycle rear reflector, even though they are the corner reflectors people already know.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: corner reflector

              The rated capacity is based on the materials used to make the reflector. As for right materials, name something that can withstand a sustained high-intensity beam without being too bulky or heavy to be practical?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to cause injury with low power lasers

    Simply move the laser spot around a cat until it gets angry, then move the spot to the victim. A whole paw full of puncture wounds from 1 mW.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to cause injury with low power lasers

      "move the laser spot around a cat until it gets angry, then move the spot to the victim"

      Citations needed.

      Mind you I do have a vague memory of doing this with a torch when both me and the cat were much much younger.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How to cause injury with low power lasers

        Question is: can you upgrade both to better effect? Maybe try with a high-power torch and a tiger some day.

  15. phil dude
    Coat

    just in time....

    for Independence Day 2!

    P.

  16. Alan Brown Silver badge

    It it was effective they'd have demonstrated it on a moving target.

    Enough said.

    Apart from that , how high up does a ground-mounted laser need to be to put a 45-degree hole in the bonnet at a range where bullets don't work more cheaply?

  17. macjules Silver badge

    It has to be asked ...

    Are Lockheed Martin working on the ITMSB Mk1 version yet? This would be the Ill-tempered Mutated SeaBass with the frickin' laser beam attachment.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets face it....

    These weapons are pretty pointless on Earth.

    a .50 cal has a similar effective range and can do the same type of damage to a truck.

    These are obviously being developed for future use as space weaponry, where the recoil of firing projectiles, not to mention carrying their mass, is such a problem.

    Of course in a vacuum lasers have much better range than in atmosphere.

  19. ShortLegs

    How much did it cost, and how many RPGs could you buy for the same amount.

    Now, which is more cost-effective?

    It's a boondangle for money.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just add multiple projectiles to the vehicle to take out the self-illuminating laser.

    or add a thick white oxide layers to the vehicle as stated by "slightly-pedantic"; you could also add ablative smoking materials to scatter the laser beam. A military vehicle maybe able to use an actively cooled outer surface to disperse the laser heat.

    There should be plenty of time to take out the Laser, assuming the occupants are not damaged, because the power output is not enough to do rapid damage, and a moving air cooled vehicle would be harder to continuous target and heat up, especially if there are obstacles in the way.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Just add multiple projectiles to the vehicle to take out the self-illuminating laser.

      Unless the laser itself is mobile. Then you have moving target versus moving target, and the laser has the advantage of attack speed such that you don't really have to lead the target to hit it unlike with projectiles.

  21. PeterM42
    Flame

    Can I have one?

    " Lockheed said its goal was to develop a version that can be mounted on vehicles."

    I want to mount one rearward facing on my car to sort out those pesky tailgaters!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I have one?

      > I want to mount one rearward facing on my car to sort out those pesky tailgaters!

      I've been wondering about taking a magnetron from a microwave and setting that facing rearwards (with some appropriate shielding), perhaps with some mods to the waveguide to make it more focused a few metres back. I wonder what something like that would do to modern car electronics? (although I suspect that the body of the car would act as a pretty decent shield)

  22. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Artist's rendition

    Death Star? Pfft. A good one looks like this.

    (I know, the DS superweapon technically does more damage, but it's so boring.)

  23. bearded beercan

    input vs. output

    A laser is way cooler than RPGs, tank guns and whathaveyous. Your arguments are invalid.

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