Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:07 pm

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10452572-76.html

... after budget destroys production ABL program.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Tyyr » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:31 pm

Yeah, that thing will never work.

As for it having no use well I seem to remember a little war about twenty years ago when medium range ballistic missiles were a big pain in the ass. Having a half dozen of these would have obviously been rather pointless.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Sionnach Glic » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:18 pm

Didn't they kill this program just a few weeks ago?

In any case, it's nice to hear that it worked, but I don't see these things becoming cost-effecient for a few decades. Far better to just go with an anti-missile missile.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Tyyr » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:52 am

ABM's are less than ideal. The big benefit of the ABL is that it catches the missile in it's boost phase. Whatever wonderful surprise was inside drops back in the territory of the person who fired it. If the missile happens to be carrying a radiological, chemical, or biological payload that's a very good thing. Missiles like the Patriot and it's ilk can't intercept until the missile is terminal. Some interceptors push this engagement farther out to the edge of space. The downside to those is that you typically need to be in the path of the missile to get them to work. In other words you need to be in the target country or very near it.

The big benefit of the ABL is you can forward deploy it to some where like Iraq or South Korea and catch SCUD type MRBM or SRBM's as they launch and drop them in the country that fired them, namely Iran or North Korea, the kind of countries with lots of SCUD type SRBM's, MRBMs, nuclear and chemical weapons systems and bat shit crazy leaders.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Sionnach Glic » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:28 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this not require you to have these aircraft in the right spot at the right time? What you're saying would seem to indicate that it's only a useful asset if you already know where and when your enemy is going to start firing missiles from. But if you know that, just launch your own missiles at him before he can launch.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Tyyr » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:14 pm

It's only an asset if its on station before your opponent fires off their missiles, however the number of scenarios where someone is just going to pop off a weapon like that out of the blue is far smaller than the number where you'll have some expectation that they'll do it before hand. Going back to the first Gulf War the US dedicated a tremendous amount of assets to hunting SCUD launchers in the desert. We knew that Saddam would likely try to fire his SCUDs at Israel and Saudia Arabia but we didn't know just when or where so the USAF and special forces dedicated a lot of resources to finding the launchers prior to their firing. If they did fire we had to rely on Patriot batteries to try and knock down the SCUDs as they fell on their target. They downside is that even if the Patriot intercepted the SCUD the remains of it still fell on Israeli or Saudi territory, usually near to where the warhead was going to land anyways. Now we got lucky, Saddam only ever fired conventional explosive warheads. If he'd fired chemical or radiological warheads they still would have contaminated the area and caused significant damage.

If a squadron of ABL's had been on station they could have knocked the SCUDs down as they launched, dropping the remains back down on Iraqi territory.

Yes, it requires you to have some forewarning but if someone like Iran or North Korea starts to rattle the saber you can immediately send a squadron of ABL's to our friends in the area and in less than 24 hours have protection in the area. Getting something like an Arleigh Burke/Ticonderoga or a Patriot battery in place can take far longer. It's not the end all be all of missile defense but what it represents is a rapid deployable local defense system that can knock missiles down in the boost phase instead of waiting until its terminal.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Sionnach Glic » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:14 pm

Fair points.
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Re: Airborne Laser destroys missile in test

Postby Aaron » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:04 pm

It's been scaled back to a research program Rochey. If nothing else it'll give the US some practical experience with lasers, maintenance and let them develop some potential doctrine before solid state lasers come online.
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