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The Military Science

Boeing 12,000lb Chemical Laser Set to Fry Targets 625

coondoggie writes "Boeing this week completed work on and installed a 12,000-pound chemical laser in a C-130H aircraft. Boeing's Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) which is being developed for the Department of Defense, will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations."
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Boeing 12,000lb Chemical Laser Set to Fry Targets

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  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:04AM (#21681091)
    But, can you use it to make popcorn?
    • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Yoozer ( 1055188 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:06AM (#21681105) Homepage
      You mean, "will it fit on a frickin' shark?"
    • Take a non-imaginary smart guy to find out.
    • If its anything like this [storg.net] then yes you can but you would get into a lot of trouble.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Hate to disappoint you but an Aegis cruiser doesn't use a 'sweeping' radar. It uses the far more advanced AN/SPY-1 system. Rather than looking like a mesh antenna, it looks hexagonal pads. There's no way even a complete idiot could confuse them so the story is entirely made up.
        • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Funny)

          by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:05AM (#21682345)

          Hey, asshole. Way to ruin a perfectly good and entertaining story with facts. Seriously, who raised you? I wanna know, so I know who to blame for all the crying children who no longer believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and good war stories. You make me sick. Way to not support the troops, commie!

  • Cool but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Virtual_Raider ( 52165 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:06AM (#21681107)

    I wonder what the peaceful applications of this could be? It bothers me that so much money is spent on military technology having so many other issues that could be addressed. I'm guessing that soldering might be one good use, with a scaled down model but can't think of much else at the moment. On the other hand if they are going to research more ways to destroy stuff I'd like to see a true laser hand pistol...

    Oh, I almost forgot the meme: Sharks!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Entropius ( 188861 )
      It bothers me that so much money is spent on military technology having so many other issues that could be addressed.

      This is why my sole criterion for voting in the next election is: who will cut the military budget the most?

      You can buy a *lot* with $500 billion a year, or even 20% of $500 billion a year. Tax cuts, medical research, a massive shift away from fossil fuels ($100 billion buys a *lot* of nuclear plants), education, improved infrastructure, Third World aid, whatever. We can have the debate about
      • Re:Cool but... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:31AM (#21681451)
        Well, that's just dandy if you're an American. But if you lived in Taiwan, South Korea or Israel, or Japan then America having the ability to shoot down ICBMs might come in handy.

        Because at the moment all those countries are menaced by a neighbour who is kept in check largely by the US. And all those neighbours either have or are very close to having ICBMs. And some of them are maybe crazy enough to threaten the US with those ICBMS or their neighbours. Now if the US can shoot them down there's much less incentive for them to do that. So missile defense is actually a geopolitical stabiliser.

        Come to think of it, even if you're in America it's far better that America is far ahead of any conceivable rival, because that deters them from a sprint to parity and then a Pearl Harbour style attack on the US or even engaging in brinksmanship and messing it up so that they end up swapping ICBMs with the US. Which would be far more expensive than current US defense policy, even ignoring the fact that millions of innocent people would die, many of them Americans.

        Most of these regimes seem to engage in brinksmanship with the US all the time. It seems likely that they view ICBMs as a tool to strengthen their hand, rather than just a defense to hunker down behind. And most of them have little or no understanding of US politics, so it's quite likely that they would miscalculate and get into a war with the US even if it were to make concessions to them. Arguably starting to make concessions to appease them would simply embolden then and make them start to demand things which the US cannot concede.

        So if I were you I'd vote to keep spending on defense. Come to think of it, the good old US military industrial complex will probably managed to get the dollars somehow regardless of how you vote.
        • Re:Cool but... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:26AM (#21681645) Homepage

          Well, that's just dandy if you're an American. But if you lived in Taiwan, South Korea or Israel, or Japan then America having the ability to shoot down ICBMs might come in handy.

          No. It wouldn't. All of those countries live right next door to their enemies. An ICBM would hardly be necessary to inflict devastating damage upon any of them.

          North Korea has enough conventional artillery pointed at South Korea to level Seoul in a manner of minutes (and vice versa). China has a big enough army to march over Taiwan and Japan simultaneously, and would very likely win by sheer numbers alone without much of a fight.

          And attacking Israel is simply a bad idea. The response provoked by a nuclear attack upon Israel would be a hundred times more severe than the initial attack.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jac89 ( 979421 )
            The problem with China invading Taiwan and Japan is that the Chinese navy has far from the capabilities to move its huge army across to those island nations.
            • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @12:14PM (#21684415) Homepage

              The problem with China invading Taiwan and Japan is that the Chinese navy has far from the capabilities to move its huge army across...

              That's why the Chinese Olympic swimming team was disqualified in 2004 for trying to compete with cheap AK-47 knockoffs slung on their backs.

              Made 'ya Google!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

            No. It wouldn't. All of those countries live right next door to their enemies. An ICBM would hardly be necessary to inflict devastating damage upon any of them.

            Yeah but if you're China, North Korea or Iran then your best idea is to get the US to abandon your chosen victim. And the best way to do that is to threaten the US directly. My argument is that if the US wants to have a moral foreign policy of protecting small democracies from large dictatorships they need to neutralise China's nukes.

            China has a big enough army to march over Taiwan and Japan simultaneously, and would very likely win by sheer numbers alone without much of a fight.

            Well if the US wasn't protecting Taiwan they would likely have tried. In fact Clinton had to send aircraft carriers to show that they US was still protecting Taiwan. But numb

          • Re:Cool but... (Score:4, Informative)

            by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:25AM (#21683669)
            There's a minor technical problem with marching that army from China to Taiwan or Japan...

            China's navy is probably a match for Taiwan's; Japan's is clearly superior, and the US Navy is on a whole other scale.

        • OK, thanks for your opinion and all. But I'd rather hear from people who actually live in Taiwan, South Korea or Israel, or Japan. I'd be very interested to hear how many share your opinion.

          I don't doubt some do, but I can certainly imagine that people who don't have quite the same level of trust in America (given their rhetoric and actions over the last few years) might feel somewhat more comfortable if America could actually be held accountable for their actions, rather than just having to hope their cu

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Antity-H ( 535635 )
            Some of them at least believe in peace and are trying to make it happen. Try this :
            http://www.israelipalestinianproject.com/ [israelipal...roject.com]

            Optimism is good for morale, cheer up!
          • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:17AM (#21682919) Homepage
            I'm secured by the fact that we have a tough allay in America. Although, I do believe that much of the hostility towards Israel today (not 50 years ago) is because of our close ties to the US. Were those ties to be severed, we would be more vulnerable, but we would be less threatened. Real, God-fearing Muslims (not extremists) are opposed, more than anything else, to the invasion of American culture. Israel is a vehicle for that invasion. Real, God-fearing Muslims (not extremists) want to protect their children from exposure to drugs, prostitutes, and all else that is hallmark of American media. And believe it or not, most of Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt is of the real, God-fearing Muslims that I describe. Syria and the Muslim Lebanese are a different story, however.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
          Anti-nukes are not a stabilizer, they destroy the doctrine of MAD by allowing one side to use a nuclear strike without fear of retaliation. The only logical response for a country with nukes but no antinukes is to launch the nukes NOW and eliminate the antinuke country before it turns into a onesided nuclear war. Once both sides have antinukes the nuclear threat is neutralized and a conventional war becomes much more likely since neither country will face the risk of being annihilated by a nuclear strike. W
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Alioth ( 221270 )
            No. Systems like this target the weapon in its boost phase. Hopefully, the wreckage of the missile + warheads simply falls back onto the territory of whoever tried to launch them too.
      • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @07:01AM (#21681801) Homepage Journal
        We spend approximately 21% of our budget on National Defense. Nearly half the budget is lost to entitlements.

        Now where would *I* get all the money to spend on good projects? Earmarks buried in the various bills that pass Congress. There were over 2000 (two thousand) earmarks in the Defense budget alone. This is money being spent by Congress, not the DOD, but charged as part of the defense budget. How many monunments (read research centers, bridges, etc) do we need named for LIVING members of Congress?

        We spend an amazing amount on education but efforts to improve it are thwarted by Teacher Union's, Special Interest Groups, and Politicians. If you want to improve education don't look to Washington, get involved at the local level. You will see the wall first hand.

        Improved Infrastucture? Look, we already budget more than enough to fix and maintain what we have. The problem is that Congress takes the money allocated and redirects it to new projects. You then have government incompetence at the state level as well. Ever wonder why a certain bridge disaster disappeared from the news so quickly? Because it was exposing the system that is failing. You cannot just throw more money at a failing system and expect good results. If that were the case we would have best schools and roads in the world!

        Lets hit your next category. Medical research. The private sector is doing amazing things in this area - why? Because by not taking Federal money for all lines of research they are left with options they would lose otherwise. Getting the Feds involved handcuffs researchers in more ways than you can count. Medical research is big money, the risks are great but the rewards are great. Keeping people living longer means more money for the companies that can provide it. The government has no interest in you living longer as you cost them more money when you do. (remember that entitlement section of the budget? Nearly half directly spent there)

        New power alternatives. We already have seen where Congress is going. Ethanol. Why? The FARM industry. Earmarks out the wahzoo for a fix that may cause more problems than it solves. Less food for the world and more pollutants of a different sort. Wind farms you say? Sure, just don't put them in some Congressman's backyard! Nuclear? No member of Congress has the willpower to stand behind this industry. Simply put it does not get them votes. The money is high and tied too much to a small area. Whereas ethanol allows for tax money to be spread around garnishing lots of votes!

        Yes the military spends a lot of money. Yes a lot is wasted. However that same military is the reason why we can bitch about the state of our country and the world with near impunity. We don't have to worry about tanks rolling over our demonstrations, we don't have to worry about family members being disappeared overnight because a relative spoke out in university, and we don't go to the market worried about some whacko with a bomb on his chest.

        My sole criteria for the next election is, who will cut the BUDGET the most. The taking from Americans is extreme. Bush was anything but a conservative, having grown the government to sizes beyond reason. There is no reason to have so many people dependant on the government to survive. By creating such a situation we doom the future generations. Where will be the innovations and great strides in society when its people don't have to do so as someone else will foot the bill and tuck them in?

        Getting the government off our backs is the first step to having a great country. Our government should be here to serve us, not indenture us.

        • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:10AM (#21682863) Homepage
          However that same military is the reason why we can bitch about the state of our country and the world with near impunity

          I don't think many Americans are worried about being invaded by foreign armies. They're mostly worried about being invaded by their own government.

          Bush may have killed a bunch of arabs, but he killed a ton of Americans too. The ones that lived, he made their lives just a little more miserable every few months. Keep going with this government, and soon it's the Americans that will seek political refuge abroad.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bacon Bits ( 926911 )

          We spend an amazing amount on education but efforts to improve it are thwarted by Teacher Union's

          Yeah, damn those people for complaining about wages after going to school for 5 years, working unpaid for one year, and then starting at $25,000 per year with $60,000 or so in loan debt. It's such a good deal, one has to wonder why anybody would want to be a web designer, nurse, or construction worker.

          Why should we pay someone what they're worth?
      • socialist! (Score:3, Insightful)

        But weapons are cool! We have to be kept safe, or something. And that $500B (more like $750B now) creates jobs, or something. Big government is o-tay if all big government means is giving tax money to corporations on a no-bid basis, or suspending habeus corpus, or building more prisons or something. Big government is bad, i.e. socialism, if you give one red cent to a poor person, or pay any health-care related expense for anyone who isn't old enough to be an O'Reilley fan.

        I'm still a little fuzzy on h

  • Little damage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:07AM (#21681109)
    And by 'little collateral damage', they mean only the little 'eyeball bits' of people within a couple of hundred yards who happen to be looking at the target when it is hit (unless DoD have promised to only target unshiny bad guys).
    • Re:Little damage (Score:5, Insightful)

      by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:21AM (#21681623) Homepage
      How many people are liable to be staring at, say, a SAM site, in the middle of the night? For that matter, how many times will this have to be used before everyone knows not too? Not to mention that it would be fairly simple and cheap to airdrop safety glasses designed to filter on the laser's wavelength.

      At least laser-rebound is nice enough to be benign when you are out of sight. Shrapnel will take a parabolic arc which hops over any intermediary buildings to pop you on the head.

      Not to mention that rules for angle of incidence/reflection mean that a laser shot straight down on a tall structure is unlikely to cause problems for anyone else.

      Anyway, say this takes fifteen years to become standard technology; by then, repairing retinas may be easy as pie, but money says that being blast-incinerary radius of a bomb will still be fairly lethal.
  • Targetting (Score:4, Funny)

    by Finallyjoined!!! ( 1158431 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:07AM (#21681115)
    Little or no collateral damage? Depends on the accuracy really.
    • Re:Targetting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by weighn ( 578357 ) <weighn&gmail,com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:18AM (#21681159) Homepage

      Little or no collateral damage? Depends on the accuracy really.
      I reckon that GE, Boeing, or whoever happens to be marketing these less-than lethal weapons goes light on accuracy and draws attention more to the style associated with having such items. You know, like in marketing, but concerning less-than lethal weapons.

      Remember, it ain't the laser that kills you, its the sudden stop as you hit the dirt beneath what was once the building you were standing on.

      • Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

        by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionaryNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:24AM (#21683653) Journal
        My mom works for one of the divisions of Boeing that makes lasers like this. I don't know if they make this one, because she can't really talk about it. But I do know a little about the capabilities and accuracy of some of the systems, you know, "hypothetically, if they had something like that, what could it do?" Let's just say that one of the test systems was a servo that could keep a laser spot painted on a ping pong ball while people were playing.
    • by RuBLed ( 995686 )
      They should first test it on mammoths at the Arctic...
  • by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:10AM (#21681127)
    If they relly want to destroy thing on hte ground why dont they enclose some high explosives in a steel container with a fuse set to go off when it hits an object. They could then drop this from the plane.

    just an idea.

    • by Chainsaw ( 2302 ) <jens@backman.gmail@com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:25AM (#21681175) Homepage
      Alright, what do you prefer: a sniper taking out some bastard holding a gun to your presidents head, or throwing in a ton of explosives in a container (more known as a "bomb") and wiping out the entire administration?

      Hey, if it's Bush we're talking about, I'm all for the second solution.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Entropius ( 188861 )
        I think Congress should grow a spine and, if Bush continues to insist on staying in Iraq and vetoing stem-cell research funding and such, Congress should just cut funding for the Secret Service and let nature take its course.

        Cheney could be dealt with very easily -- just sneak up behind him and say "Boo!"
    • ... the really tricky thing is incorporating that into a meme.

      Sharks with frickin' steel containers, filled with frickin' high explosives and a frickin fuse, all tied to their heads, while being dropped out of a frickin' plane.
  • I 3 Real genius (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hellbuny ( 444564 ) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:10AM (#21681133) Homepage
    Laslo: I figure you've increased the power output to six megawatts?
    Chris: Yeah, about that.
    Laslo: Well what would you use that for?
    Ick: Making Swiss cheese?
    Mitch: The applications are unlimited.
    Laslo: No. With the fuel you've come up with the beam would last for what...15 seconds. Well what good is that?
    Chris: Oh Laslo. That doesn't matter. I respect you but I graduated.
    Mitch: Yeah, let the engineers figure out a use for it. That's not our concern.
    Laslo: Maybe somebody already has a use for it. One for which it is specifically designed.
    Jordan: You mean Dr. Hathaway had something in mind all along?
    Laslo: Look at the facts! Very high powered, portable, limited firing power, unlimited range. (Chris stops smiling.) All's you'd need is a tracking system, and a large spinning mirror and you could vaporize a human target from space.
    (Mitch glances at Chris.)
    Chris: This is not good.
  • by misleb ( 129952 )
    "Kent. This is God. Stop playing with yourself."

    Sorry, but the summary reminded me of the movie "Real Genius."

  • by kylehase ( 982334 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:17AM (#21681155)
    ...unless we can bring down their shields. All forces target the shield generators!
  • Alright (Score:4, Funny)

    by Martian_Kyo ( 1161137 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:18AM (#21681161)
    We are one step closer to having an X wing
    A C-130H might not have the sleek looks but it's a step in the right direction.

    My next question is ....what does it sound like...movies always told us that laser will make cool sounds when fired. I vote it makes that 'Ptsui!' sound.
  • that me being 12000lbs would come in handy one day!
  • Oh, sweet Jesus God, a death ray from the skies! It just doesn't get any better than that!

    Flash Gordon: "Ming, you'll never get away with this!"

  • Is it too late to order one in time for Christmas? I just looked on Newegg, but I didn't see this item. This would make a great stocking stuffer.
  • - Laser to fry targets

      - Non-lethal version

      - Less than lethal version given to cops.

      - "Don't fry me bro!" song, world mega-hit.

      - Cops get white plastic armors to reflect criminal's lasers.

      - Stormtroopers raid the rebel ship...
  • Questions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mach1980 ( 1114097 )
    1) How do they solve the problem with Bremsstrahlung?

    2) Anyone got the rated power of that laser-beast? I guess they put 2-4kWh into that 5 second burst which leaves it at 1.4 - 2.8 MW. Which is a helluva lot more than the previous 20kW reported http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1221397
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      1) How do they solve the problem with Bremsstrahlung?

      What problem ?

      Bremsstrahlung occurrs when electrons are decelerated. Does this laser use some kind of electron accelerator ?

      • Re:Questions (Score:4, Informative)

        by trip11 ( 160832 ) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:45AM (#21681729) Homepage

        1) How do they solve the problem with Bremsstrahlung?

        What problem ?

        Bremsstrahlung occurrs when electrons are decelerated. Does this laser use some kind of electron accelerator ?

        But if a photon has more than a few MeV of energy it can split to an electron-positron pair which can brem, throwing off more photons which will split etc etc. Until the individual bits run out of the energy needed to form more particles. In other words, EM showering. However this requires VERY high energy photons (gamma rays). My understanding was that a laser like this achieves it's power by using lots of photons (in the IR range), so it won't have a problem with Bremsstrahlung at all. Thermal blooming on the other hand is probably a bigger issue. As the laser heats the air, it causes the water vapor to convect which acts as a lens and defocuses the beam.

  • Passive Defence (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gringer ( 252588 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:40AM (#21681237)
    I presume a splash of of highly reflective metal (or metallic heat-resistant plastic) will work wonders for defence against these things.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:05AM (#21681345)
      That's why you should never go out without your tin-foil hat.
    • Re:Passive Defence (Score:5, Informative)

      by jettoblack ( 683831 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:08AM (#21681357)
      No mirror reflects 100% of what hits it. Even if it only absorbs 0.1% of the beam, with this much energy the mirror will quickly deform or burn and its reflectivity will drop.
      • Re:Passive Defence (Score:5, Informative)

        by Arabani ( 1127547 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:18AM (#21681415)
        Furthermore, the output beam is infrared, which your average mirror or shiny metal isn't going to reflect. The other problem with shiny surfaces: how do you keep them shiny for long periods of time?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Actually, mirrors *can* reflect 100%... of a particular wavelength. And it just so happens that lasers are monochromatic in nature.

        However, between two lasers of discrepant frequencies, you could pretty much guarantee that one of them would be effective. So defense is possible in the theoretical sense, but not the practical sense.
    • I'm thinking not (Score:4, Interesting)

      by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:19AM (#21681419)
      Leave a white shirt out in the sun all day, and you know what you get? A hot white shirt. It's the same story on arrow versus armor that it has been for more than a thousand years: given equal technology, the arrow wins. (And the US Air Force is categorically not planning to "fight fair" when it comes to comparing technology bases. Hello, Mr. Third World Tinpot Dictator. Do your Revolutionary Guards have access to MIT's materials engineering department? No? Oh, what a pity... because their physics department works for us.)

      When in doubt, the arrow scales more-or-less linearly (bump up the juice on the laser, problem solved), the armor ceases to scale very rapidly (try adding another 9 to the string of 99.999% reflectivity index).

      I'd be much more worried, for the first few iterations of the system, of it being compromised by less-than-ideal environmental conditions (smoke, dust, smog, haze, clouds, intervening terrain in an urban situation, etc) than by enemy preparations. Besides, if the enemy has decided to put on his Armor of Laser Resistance +1, you can always just go back to Plan A and drop a really big bomb on his head.
  • Delivery vehicles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:54AM (#21681295)
    In other news, the Chinese Government is working on ground based lasers that can shoot down C130s.

    One of the most interesting things for future military historians will be how the US, and to a lesser extent the UK, have believed in the effecitveness of action at a distance warfare. "Bomber" Harris in WW2 tried to destroy Nazi Germany by air bombing of cities. Didn't work, half bankrupted the British economy, while the Army and Navy were screaming for convoy escorts and air support. Germany still had to be fought over to end the war. (Meanwhile Hitler spent a fortune on V-weapons whose total effect for the entire war was less than two large RAF night raids.) The lessons had been learnt so well that in Vietnam the US spent a fortune bombing the jungle - then in Cambodia. There was a brief success in the first Gulf War where the fleeing Iraqis obligingly went down the same road and got bombed and shelled to pieces in a local action, so in GW2 Iraq was bombed back to the stone age, which brought the Iraqi war to an abrupt halt (not).

    So the US Government continues its development of bigger and better spears, still fantasising that one day they will develop the big one that will stop anyone, anywhere, from upsetting them. And forgetting that, no matter what firepower you put on a mobile weapons platform, it is still vulnerable to fixed weapons, and usually to small mobile weapons that cost relatively little to make and deploy.

    It's worth remembering that one of the most asymmetric military actions of WW2 was a French resistance girl who visited a German tank base on her bicycle, wandered around putting grease loaded with carborundum into track bearings, and disabled a battalion, riding off home again for lunch.

    • Re:Delivery vehicles (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:01AM (#21681555)

      "Bomber" Harris in WW2 tried to destroy Nazi Germany by air bombing of cities.
      Actually, in his autobiography, Albert Speer said of a raid on Hamburg that destroyed most of Germany's ball bearing factories "if they had kept bombing for another two days, the war would have been over". The problem with Harris is that he was trying to destroy german civillian morale which is both morally wrong and non workable. If the Allies had been targetting choke points in the German war economy it could have caused a very quick collapse. Ball bearings are a special case. The factories take a long time but are very easy to destroy because they apparently used flammable oil baths. And armoured vehicles need regular spare parts that need ball bearings. All of this information was available to the Allies, it's almost common sense.

      Personally I would have threatened to bomb Swedish ball bearing factories too, if they continued to sell to the Nazis.

      And it's very noticable that bombing gradually crippled the german war economy despite the targetting being wrong. When you read about the development of V2s for example, it's quite clear that the German economy at the end of the war was chronically short of everything, mainly because of bombed out factories and railways. Same with all of the Nazi weapons work near the end of the war.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
        said of a raid on Hamburg that destroyed most of Germany's ball bearing factories

        And here I thought Germany's ball bearing industry was concentrated in Schweinfurt (which was bombed quite heavily for precisely this reason).

        Ball bearings are a special case. The factories take a long time but are very easy to destroy because they apparently used flammable oil baths.

        As far as I've read, the raids on the ball bearing factories were considered very successful by the Allies, because they've hit the factories

    • in what they perceive. The book A Bright Shining Lie said a lot about this stuff. The AF would bomb the hell out of the jungle and chalk up x VC kills, and wouldn't believe Vann, who went out there to see the bombing site, when he said there were no weapons in the place they bombed, only dead peasants.

      Why are people like this? Dunno. But an AF officer isn't going to make much rank if he isn't convinced 24/7 that airpower is the best answer to whatever problem they have that day. And "collateral dam

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tyroneking ( 258793 )
      Excellent post my friend.

      A few weeks ago I remember hearing/reading a comment from a US policeman who bemoaned the militarisation of the US police force, a few days later I was enjoying a night out in London and saw two unarmed policemen literally brow-beating two thugs into submission - letting a potentially violent incident descend into a petty argument. In the US I guess the two thugs would have been tasered, there would have been a small riot, couple of deaths, etc.

      Good example of what's wrong with the
  • Lasered to death (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <frogbert.gmail@com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:57AM (#21681311)
    Isn't being lasered to death pretty much being burnt alive?

    How is this weapon even legal?
  • Oh man, now if they put this on an AC-130 [wikipedia.org], it'd seriously make anyone regret having made the decision to be anywhere on the battlefield. It'd make Dr. Evil tear a bit.
  • damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage,

    ... except for dozens of permanently blinded civilians. But that's so much better than dead, right? /sarcasm

    Lasers of that power aren't harmless. Even the reflected light can still fry your retina.

  • The Pig Farmer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:47AM (#21681505) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a story I heard when I was a student at Caltech. A Tech Physics grad got a job with a defense firm where he was assigned to design a kill verification system. The way it was supposed to work was by using a spectrometer to detect the carbon emission lines from vaporized human flesh.

    When he realized what he was doing, he quit his job to become a pig farmer.

  • by Evets ( 629327 ) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:58AM (#21681543) Homepage Journal
    73 comments and NO mention of the death star?!?
  • by cheros ( 223479 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:11AM (#21681583)
    The statement that there will be little or no collateral damage seems to originate from an unproven premise that they can aim the thing properly in the first place.

    It flies. It flies slowly (it's not a fighter plane). It flies nearby (range is up to 20km, and let's hope the adversaries don't have any smoke grenades handy). Yet aim is 100% accurate?

    "No collateral damage" - from the club with the two dog film (Barney and Blair)..
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The AC-130U Spectre (code-named "Spooky") has been a very accurate weapon of war. It flies really slowly, which increases its accuracy when firing on ground targets. It can loiter over its target for hours. The latest versions of the aircraft have gyro-stabilized mounts for its weapons, and advanced night optics that can see through smoke grenades. Its radar can track the 40mm and 105mm shells it shoots and feedback the information to the aircraft to adjust the aim of later rounds. The aircraft can accurate
  • by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @07:54AM (#21682039)

    Both systems employ a Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) that is made by combining a bunch of nasty chemicals - potassium, peroxide, chlorine, iodine and other stuff and then fired at supersonic speeds.

    Would be a pretty crappy laser if it was slower than the speed of sound.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.