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Thread: US MDA looking to defeat ICBMs with laser-armed drones

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    US MDA looking to defeat ICBMs with laser-armed drones

    Missile Defense Agency seeks laser-armed drone
    June 15, 2017
    Defence Monitor Worldwide

    The Missile Defense Agency is looking into acquiring and deploying a laser-armed drone to intercept and shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    The MDA Advanced Technology Directorate has said it needs a high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle with sufficient payload capacity to carry a high-energy laser. It would be designed to intercept ICBMs during their boost phase. It has not ruled out a manned platform as well.

    The solicitation on the Federal Business Opportunities website reads, "The results of this RFI [request for information] will inform future program options for maturing BPI technology and capability following the current Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) effort.

    "Proposed aircraft should be able to maintain continuous positive ground control and are expected to operate from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii and Edwards Air Force Base in California,"

    Specifications listed include a flight altitude of at least 63,000 feet, the endurance to stay on station for at least 36 hours after a transit of 1,900 miles, and a cruising speed of up to Mach .46 while patrolling its station.

    It needs to be able to carry a payload between 5,000 and 12,500 pounds. It needs sufficient power generation to operate a 140-kilowatt laser, with the possibility of up to 280 kw or more. It needs to be able to operate the laser for at least 30 minutes without affecting flight performance and be capable of carrying a 1- to 2-meter optical system for the laser.

    The MDA is responsible for the defense of U.S. territory and its allies from ballistic missile threats. It coordinates a network of land-based and ship-based missile interceptors along with radars and satellites to detect and destroy enemy ballistic missiles.

    ICBMs are at their most vulnerable during their boost phase. A UAV capable of targeting them before they exit the atmosphere would greatly increase the possibility of intercept. 2017 Global Data Point.

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    I prefer sharks with frikkin' laser beams on their foreheads personally.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
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    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Oh my!

    Oh my!

    Incredible!
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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    How does this thing maintain station within range of an ICBM launch site without being knocked down by hostile SAMs? I assume it will be a stealthy platform, but we know from the F-117 that even VLO aircraft can be found if you know when and where to look...

    I wonder if this is a capability they could fit into the B-21?

    Build the optical turret and aiming systems into the aircraft much like the F-35's laser designator and plumb the bomb bay to allow laser generation equipment to be mounted if needed in lieu of ordnance. A high powered laser that can be optionally installed in a stealthy medium bomber will probably have more applications than just ICBM busting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    How does this thing maintain station within range of an ICBM launch site without being knocked down by hostile SAMs? I assume it will be a stealthy platform, but we know from the F-117 that even VLO aircraft can be found if you know when and where to look...

    I wonder if this is a capability they could fit into the B-21?

    Build the optical turret and aiming systems into the aircraft much like the F-35's laser designator and plumb the bomb bay to allow laser generation equipment to be mounted if needed in lieu of ordnance. A high powered laser that can be optionally installed in a stealthy medium bomber will probably have more applications than just ICBM busting.
    What about power supply, the ABL was a converted 747 after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Best. April Fools. Ever!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    What about power supply, the ABL was a converted 747 after all.
    It's a much different laser system than the ABL's COIL. And I believe they plan for it to charge up off power generated by the aircraft's engines.

    What matters is not just maximum power, but how much weight it takes to generate (power density), especially when you’re trying to fit the laser on an aircraft. The Airborne Laser took 55 kilograms (about 120 pounds) to generate a kilowatt of laser power, Syring said, which is why a megawatt (1,000 kW) took a 747. Electric lasers currently in the lab take 35-40 kilograms per kilowatt, and the MDA research program plans to drive that down by a factor of ten, to 3-5 kg/kW. MDA’s ultimate goal is 2 kg/kW, which would make a one-megawatt weight 5,000 pounds, something a drone could carry.

    Link
    This was from 2015, so presumably they have something light enough they think they can fit it on a drone at this point. The real question I have about the B-21 is if it could reach the altitudes they want for this thing.

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