07 October 2008

Airborne Anti-ICBM Lasers w/ UAV Relay Fleets

The US remains the powerhouse of world science and technology R&D. It is also the world economic and military hegemon. Such a world power is able to develop technologies that "also-rans" must try to imitate or steal. One developing technology that can change the global strategic balance, is the airborne laser, capable of shooting down an ICBM along with its nuclear warheads.
The flying laser cannon could be accompanied by a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) fitted with mirrors. These relay UAVs would be harder to spot and more disposable than a 747, and could bounce the high-energy beam onto targets that might otherwise be out of range, or out of the plane's line-of-sight. With multiple flying drones, a single ABL could cover an exponentially wider area. It would be an entirely new combination of lasers and robots­—and it may be the answer to critics aiming to dismantle ABL before it ever flies.

Originally commissioned by the United States Air Force, this flying laser is now touted as a mobile missile defense platform, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles before they escape the atmosphere. If North Korea or some other hostile nation were on the verge of launching a strike against the United States or its allies, a small fleet of ABLs would be deployed to the region. They would loiter at altitudes as high as 40,000 ft, and if a missile did appear over the horizon, a laser would automatically dart out, painting the threat with enough heat to send it tumbling back to Earth. _PopMech
Such a defensive weapon--if effective--would render ICBM nuclear attacks much less reliable. If an attacking nation is unsure if its missiles will get through, it will be forced to think very carefully before it launches.

This type of technology only ratchets up the arms race into new areas of research, of course. But it makes it ever so much harder for third world nations such as Pakistan, Iran, or North Korea to make credible threats against more technologically advanced nations who can have capable R&D infrastructures.

That is one way that Ronald Reagan intimidated the USSR military establishment into a nervous breakdown. Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense was not a credible defense at the time. But USSR analysts understood that for the US to even be working on such a thing revealed a huge gap in R&D capability between the USSR and the USA.

The same type of infrastructural gap exists now between the US and most of the rest of the world. Only China has the capacity to eventually develop an R&D infrastructure to rival that of the US. Russia's wealth is being stripped and shipped to Swiss bank accounts by the Putin gang. Russia never did develop beyond a "one-trick pony" economy, dependent on fossil fuel reserves that it is incompetent to develop efficiently.

If the airborne laser + UAV relay fleets prove capable of overcoming countermeasures--such as reflective coatings to deflect and dissipate laser energies--no doubt the US will share the technology with NATO allies and Israel. Which means that the technology will make its way to Russia and China via espionage of various types. The infrastructure for rapid development and updating to keep up with the rapid development of countermeasures and counter-countermeasures is what Russia lacks, and will always lack as long as it is run by criminals and KGB types.

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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

If you can use drones with mirrors would you not be able to forget the airborn laser altogether and use a shipboard or land based laser? Since satellites can be destroyed by China and soon, others, the drones would still make sense but if you could bring the lazer to a well defended base or equipe a frigate with one (and some high tech stabilizers) it could be much larger and be used against more than just ICBMs but military hardware and infrastructure.

Tuesday, 07 October, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

I believe the idea is to pre-position the airborne lasers within a few hundred miles of the launch sites, and destroy the missiles on launch, before attaining orbit.

If you wait until the multiple independent re-entry warhead vehicles enter the atmosphere, your job is a lot harder.

Land based lasers have to wait for the warheads to get within range. Airborne lasers can be sent in the vicinity of a launch and watch and wait--using the UAVs to project the effective range.

I agree that land based and ship based lasers will find uses against other types of targets besides ICBMs. Anti-artillery lasers mounted on tanks would be an example.

Tuesday, 07 October, 2008  
Blogger Markku said...

While very interesting and effective sounding technology against ICBMs, rogue states and terrorists may try to smuggle nuclear devices into the intended target country.

Tuesday, 07 October, 2008  
Blogger Loren said...

The range of the laser is still limited by atmospheric distortion, even at 40,000 ft. It will be cut further with each bounce off a mirror. This can cut out the horizon issues, but IIRC the laser didn't have that much more range anyway.

The baron I think was saying that a ship based laser bouncing a beam off a drone off the coast of N. Korea would be just as good as a airborne laser bounced off the same set of drones. The range could be even more, depending, since the ship can carry more generating capacity.

Tuesday, 07 October, 2008  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Or we could just go whole hog and build a Death Star. One massive weapon to use on Earth based targets and a few smaller lasers to shoot down Chinese anti-satellite missiles and X-Wing fighters. Launch it in pieces under the cover story of science missions and spy satellites and then introduce the world to a fully armed and operational battle station.

Thursday, 09 October, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Actually, the ultimate weapon is contraception. Not lasers, not nuclear weapons, not chemical or biological weapons. Targeted contraception.

Oddly enough, the Russians, Europeans, and Japanese are using that weapon against themselves.

Suicidal genocide. Suenocide? Juinocide? Gensucide? Whatever you call it, although it takes time to work, it allows for clean displacement of one tribe by another.

Thursday, 09 October, 2008  

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