Military Review

Laser strike

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Laser strike
Obviously, twenty or thirty years later, a Boeing-747-400F Freighter ("Air Truck") equipped with an experienced laser aviation system ALTB (Airborne Laser Testbed), will be perceived in the same way as today we see the Wright brothers plane - archaic and somewhere even ridiculous. But now it's super-weapon future.

11 February this year 20 44 minutes minutes PST (February 07.44 12 Moscow time) ALTB Boeing-747-400F with the ALTB system, took off from the Point Mugu airfield at the US Navy's Arms and Arms Research Center in California, struck powerful a laser beam on a liquid-fuel ballistic missile and destroyed it. The rocket target was launched from a certain “mobile floating platform” off the west coast of the United States. With the help of infrared sensors installed on the aircraft, the launch of the rocket was detected, and a low-energy laser beam tracked the target's flight at the upper stage. With the help of a second low-power laser pulse, the state of the atmosphere on the “path” of firing was determined. The on-board computer of the Air Truck instantly calculated the trajectory parameters of the attacked object, took into account the data of atmospheric disturbances, made the appropriate adjustments to the aiming device and gave the command “fire”. The high-energy laser beam hit and instantly warmed up the target missile to a high temperature, as a result of which it collapsed. The whole operation took less than two minutes.

11 February this year 20 44 minutes minutes PST (February 07.44 12 Moscow time) ALTB Boeing-747-400F with the ALTB system, took off from the Point Mugu airfield at the US Navy's Arms and Arms Research Center in California, struck powerful a laser beam on a liquid-fuel ballistic missile and destroyed it. The rocket target was launched from a certain “mobile floating platform” off the west coast of the United States. With the help of infrared sensors installed on the aircraft, the launch of the rocket was detected, and a low-energy laser beam tracked the target's flight at the upper stage. With the help of a second low-power laser pulse, the state of the atmosphere on the “path” of firing was determined. The on-board computer of the Air Truck instantly calculated the trajectory parameters of the attacked object, took into account the data of atmospheric disturbances, made the appropriate adjustments to the aiming device and gave the command “fire”. The high-energy laser beam hit and instantly warmed up the target missile to a high temperature, as a result of which it collapsed. The whole operation took less than two minutes.


The process of destroying a target missile

Guidance and "start-up" of the laser beam was carried out with a turret mount in the nose of the Boeing-747-400F. And the high-energy oxygen-oxygen chemical laser (Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser - COIL) of megawatt power and its ingredients occupy most of the fuselage of the huge “Air Truck”. Upstairs, just behind the cockpit, is a laser system for aiming and scouting the atmosphere. Inside the car, right behind the cockpit, is the combat control compartment where the operators work is the “calculation” of the laser “gun”.

Nose turret installation.

At the request of the Pentagon, the combat laser aviation system was developed by a consortium that included the three largest American military-industrial corporations: Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. The general contractor, Boeing, installed “Air Truck” and acted as an integrator for the entire program. Northrop Grumman Corporation has developed and produced low-energy and high-energy chemical lasers. Lockheed Martin manufactured the beam control system and the turret system. In addition to the "three whales", more than 30 US companies and organizations took part in the creation of ALTB.

An hour after the first “shot” of the ALTB, a second, equally successful one was made. Now a solid-propellant ballistic missile launched from the island of San Nicolas off the coast of California was struck by a laser. The United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) praised the test results. “The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, because it gives the opportunity to attack at the speed of light many objects at a distance of hundreds of kilometers,” the agency said in a statement.

Indeed, the tests confirmed the readiness of the laser aviation system (Airborne Laser - ABL) to intercept ballistic missiles in the active part of the trajectory. Moreover, they generally became a landmark in the development of means of warfare. This qualitative leap is in line with the appearance of guns and rifles equipped with gunpowder, rifled guns, submarines, combat aircraft and rockets. Now, artillery and missiles in many areas will gradually be superseded by laser and other types of weapons of directed energy. Already by 2015, the US Department of Defense intends to form a squadron of seven aircraft with ABL. It is assumed that they will be able to hit liquid-fuel missiles at a distance of up to 600 km, and on solid ones - up to 300 km. Each such "Air Truck" with a laser "gun" is able to patrol airspace for 16 hours. In addition to performing the functions of missile defense, they will successfully deal with aircraft and cruise missiles, including those made according to the requirements of stealth technology. The cost of one such laser "flying fortress" will be approximately $ 1,5 billion.


The layout of the laser "flying fortress".

Laser technology has been used for military purposes for several decades. Widely used laser rangefinders and guidance systems. But with the "hyperboloid of engineer Garin" - combat ray systems - things were moving ahead difficult. True, to date, several experimental combat systems of aviation, land and sea-based. Northrop Grumman Corporation has developed a Skyguard complex (“Sky Guard”) to repel attacks from multiple-launch rocket projectiles. But he is still far from perfect. Improvements are required and the Centurion system on solid-state lasers from Raytheon Corporation. It is intended to be replaced on ships and in army units of the multi-barreled 20-mm anti-aircraft artillery defense systems of the Phalanx near-line. However, on tests, the system showed good results and, apparently, work on it will continue. Last year, Boeing and Raytheon received a multimillion-dollar contract for the development of another ship defense system - using free-electron lasers with a power of 100 kW.

Setting up an aircraft-based laser.

In November last year, Boeing Corporation conducted successful tests of the MATRIX laser complex at the US Navy China Lake provocation site in California. It is a mobile platform equipped with a laser and radar. MATRIX found and shot down five unmanned aerial vehicles. In September, the ATL (Airborne Tactical Laser), mounted on board the C-2009H, was able to hit a moving ground target with a laser ATL (gun).

The implementation of the ABL air laser program, described above, began in 1994. However, success did not come immediately. The first aircraft of the corporation Boeing handed over to the tests in 2002. Hundreds of flights were performed to test and debug elements of the complex. And only in 2008, the developers installed a high-energy chemical laser on board the Air Truck. In August last year it was held "rehearsal" shooting exercises. Then the rocket also launched from the island of San Nicolas. At Boeing-747-400F, it was spotted, lasers were aimed, and a low-power ABL beam was directed at the target. The sensors on the rocket recorded a “hit”. This experiment and limited. And 11 of February of this year, everything worked properly.

But there is a problem that worries the military and the creators of new weapons. Chemical lasers, although powerful, but bulky and complex in design units. Because of this, they are expensive and capricious. That is why in the coming years, priority will be given to the improvement of solid-state lasers. The Northrop Grumman corporation has especially advanced in this direction. As part of the JHPSSL (Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser) program, she was able to develop a solid-state laser with a power over 100 kW. It is powered not by generating energy from the reaction of chemicals that take up a lot of space and which require special storage conditions, but due to the selection of electricity produced by the engines of airplanes, combat vehicles and ships. According to Brian Strickland, director of the US Army’s laser weapons program, the power of a beam generated by electricity is enough to destroy targets on the battlefield.

Unmanned aerial vehicle struck by the beam of the MATRIX laser complex.

The Northrop Grumman laser consists of a circuit, each element of which emits a beam of energy with a power greater than 15 kW. The entire system consists of eight laser circuits with four amplification modules each. Thus, the total power JHPSSL reaches 105 kW.

The advantages of this arrangement are quite compact dimensions and the ability to generate a powerful focused beam for a long time without degrading its quality. The laser is planned to be used to protect stationary objects, mobile military units, ships, airplanes and helicopters, as well as for delivering high-precision strikes at the enemy from various types of land, air and sea platforms.

The US Navy has shown particularly keen interest in the Northrop Grumman brainchild. They signed a $ 98 million-dollar contract with the corporation to build a prototype Maritime Laser Demonstration sea-based MLD laser. In the case of its successful testing, which few doubt, it is planned to equip aircraft carriers, destroyers, littoral and amphibious ships with similar installations.

Boeing Corporation also successfully experiments with solid-state combat lasers. She signed a $ 36 $ 1 million contract with the US Department of Defense to develop a demonstration model of the HEL TD (High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator) mobile laser machine. This laser is supposed to be mounted on the basis of a four-axle all-terrain truck HEMTT. Its main purpose will be the destruction of missiles, artillery shells and mortar ammunition of the enemy on the battlefield.


And so Skyguard should work.

Unfortunately, in our country, work on combat lasers and other types of directed energy weapons is not a priority. But in 70-80-s. the last century, the Soviet Union, according to foreign experts, was significantly ahead in this area and the United States and other Western countries. Created powerful lasers land, air and sea-based. According to the adviser of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of the Russian Federation, Yuri Zaitsev, already in 1972, the “mobile“ laser gun ”quite successfully hit aerial targets.” In 1977, the OKB. Beriev started to create on the basis of the IL-76MD flying laboratory A-60 to study the propagation of laser beams in the upper atmosphere. For the first time, this aircraft took to the air in August 1981. A combat laser was tested on the A-60. He was the forerunner of the American ABL. After the collapse of the USSR, work on this program was discontinued.

At the Sary-Shagan test site in the Betpak-Dala desert in Kazakhstan, high-power lasers were being developed for the strategic missile defense of the country as part of the Terra and Omega programs. Experimental installations used various systems of lasers and different pumping systems of working fluids. October 10 1984, one of the Sary-Shagan’s lasers, struck the American spacecraft Challenger with its beam, causing disruption in its onboard systems and the crew’s complaints about discomfort. In this regard, Washington even sent a protest to Moscow. But all this is in the distant past. Although Sary-Shagan formally submits to the 4 State Central Interspecific Range of the Strategic Missile Forces, they have not experienced anything for a long time. And its objects turned into a landfill of construction waste, where local “stalkers”, for a modest fee, lead lovers of extreme tourism on excursions. Last summer in Sary-Shagan, the last and by then only checkpoint closed at the entrance to the landfill site.


Chain of solid-state lasers by Northrop Grumman Corporation.


Experimental installation of high-energy solid-state laser.


According to Western experts, the Soviet anti-aircraft laser system should look like this.


Powerful laser missile defense system in Sary-Shagan. The version of the compilers of the Pentagon brochure Soviet Military Power.


Now the ruins of laser facilities in Sary-Shagan is a favorite place for extreme tourism lovers.
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  1. Honory
    Honory 16 July 2012 14: 51
    0
    Yes, here the Americans are ahead of the rest. To catch them with a lag of 30 years and the current financing is probably extremely difficult at best.