NAVY implements High-Energy Laser (HEL)

ATI Courses offers many courses on Radar, Missiles and Combat Systems.  We think the news below would be of interest to our readers. On April 6, 2011 High-Energy Laser(HEL) was tested for the first time by Office of Naval Research and took out a small target vessel. This would be a huge benefit to surface ships […]

ATI Courses offers many courses on Radar, Missiles and Combat Systems.  We think the news below would be of interest to our readers.

On April 6, 2011 High-Energy Laser(HEL) was tested for the first time by Office of Naval Research and took out a small target vessel.
This would be a huge benefit to surface ships which can now disable small boat threats at a safe distance.

The ship used for this self-defense exercise was USS Paul Foster (DD 964). USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964), named for Vice Admiral Paul F. Foster USN (1889–1972), was aSpruance-class destroyer built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi.

High Energy Laser weapons have been progressively evolving since the 1960s, a path punctuated by a series of important scientific breakthroughs and engineering milestones.

The popular view of a HEL, seen as constructing a great big laser and pointing it at a target with the intention of vapourising it, bears only vague similarity to a real HEL weapon. There are genuine technological and operational challenges involved in creating truly useful and effective weapons.

Kinetic or projectile weapons such as guns, missiles and bombs destroy targets by kinetic effects, including overpressure, projectile, shrapnel and spalling damage, and incendiary effects. The result is structural damage and fire, which can and often will cause fatal damage to a target. A kinetic weapon thus uses stored chemical energy in propellants and warhead explosives, the latter where used, and delivers this energy to a target by means of a projectile of some kind. Whether the projectile weapon is a trebuchet tossing a large rock over 300 yards, or a multimode seeker equipped long range air to air missile hitting an aircraft from 200 nautical miles away, the underpinning principle is much the same, only the implementation is different.

At the most fundamental level Directed Energy Weapons share the concept of delivering a large amount of stored energy from the weapon to the target, to produce structural and incendiary damage effects. The fundamental difference is that a Directed Energy Weapon delivers its effect at the speed of light, rather than supersonic or subsonic speeds typical of projectile weapons.

Two of the most fundamental problems seen with projectile weapons, taht is getting the projectile to successfully travel a useful distance and hit the target, and then produce useful damage effects, are problems shared by Directed Energy Weapons. Having a powerful laser or microwave emitter maketh not a Directed Energy Weapon system alone.

Most contemporary literature lumps together a broad mix of weapons technologies in the Directed Energy Weapon category, including High Energy Laser (HEL) weapons, High Power Microwave (HPM) weapons, particle beam weapons and Laser Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) weapons. The first two of these four classes of weapon are genuine Directed Energy Weapons. Particle beam weapons are best described as a form of projectile weapon, using atomic or subatomic particles as projectiles, accelerated to relativistic speeds. The LIPC is a hybrid, which uses a laser to ionise a path of molecules to the target, via which an electric charge can be delivered into the target to cause damage effects.

Of these four categories, HELs have the greatest potential in the near term to produce significant effect. HPM technology has similar potential, but has not been funded as generously and thus lags well behind lasers. LIPC has significant potential especially as a nonlethal weapon. Particle beam weapons at this time are apt to remain in the science fiction domain, as the weight and cost as yet do not justify the achievable military effect.
Additionally, the Navy accomplished several other benchmarks, including integrating Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) with a ship’s radar and navigation system and firing an electric laser weapon from a moving platform at-sea in a humid environment. Other tests of solid state lasers for the Navy have been conducted from land-based positions.
Read more here.