How did laser weapons, which were 'fantasy products', become realistic weapons?
Andrew 'FastLizard4' Adams
In the past, ray guns and laser guns were practically impossible weapons, and were considered to appear only in science fiction movies and comics. However, in recent years laser weapons have gradually become a reality. The Drive, which deals with news related to weapons and vehicles, summarizes how human beings realized laser weapons.
How The Once Elusive Dream Of Laser Weapons Suddenly Became A Reality
The idea of a laser weapon that 'fires a ray of light and damages it' has existed for a long time, and in the HG Wells science fiction novel ' Space War ' published in 1898, a tripod boarded by Martians. A scene of firing a ' Heat Ray ' from a (tripod tank) is depicted. Heat Ray is 'heat energy projected by a parallel beam from a parabolic mirror made of an unknown material to an arbitrary object' and is set to be visible in the form of bright white light.
A laser with a single wavelength and excellent directivity and convergence was actually invented in 1957, but even in 2020, more than 60 years after the invention, the laser has not been put into practical use as a weapon. Regarding the reason, Dr. Rob Afzal, a senior researcher in the laser sensor system division of Lockheed Martin , a munitions company, said that one of the reasons why the development of laser weapons was slow was that 'the original use of laser weapons was Because it was a strategic defense mission. '
One of the most difficult military missions is to protect the land from ballistic missiles. It is possible to shoot down ballistic missiles with laser weapons, but laser weapons capable of shooting down incoming missiles are so large that even trucks, planes, and ships cannot be installed or operated. It was thought possible. 'Proceeding with the development of high-power laser weapons that are extremely costly to operate and maintain in preparation for an attack that you do not really know' was too high-risk and low-return, so it was not considered.
However, the Cold War ended at the end of the 20th century, and the era of glaring at the great powers with ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads is over. In modern times, it is not the giant nuclear missiles that pose a threat in combat, but mass-produced, low-cost weapons such as armed drones, mortars, and rocket artillery. As the way of war has changed, ' tactical defense' has become more important than ' strategic defense', and 'react very quickly and be effective in a very short time' is required. It came to be.
With the advent of optical fiber around 1960, the feasibility of laser weapons has increased. Since optical fibers have the characteristic of being able to deliver light over long distances with a small loss rate, the development of communication devices using optical fibers began around 1990, leading to the development of modern high-speed Internet technology. .. Furthermore, this optical fiber communication technology will eventually lead to the development of fiber laser technology. Fiber lasers have made it possible to develop low-cost, high-power laser weapons.
Laser weapons using fiber lasers do not fire a single high-power laser, but use a myriad of optical fibers to bundle multiple lasers into one. When light is passed through a prism, it is decomposed into light of various colors depending on the wavelength, but laser weapons using fiber lasers bundle light of various frequencies into one, just like the opposite of this prism. That's why it ends up.
By applying fiber laser technology, it has become possible to convert 30% to 35% of electric power into laser. At first glance, the conversion efficiency seems to be low, but compared to the conventional solid-state laser , the power conversion efficiency is about 10 points higher. Laser weapons themselves have also become smaller and more powerful, making them easier to mount on military vehicles, ships and aircraft.
In fact, in December 2014, the US Navy has already released an experiment to launch a laser weapon mounted on a transport landing ship at a low cost of 100 yen per shot.
The U.S. Navy has released a laser weapon launch experiment of 100 yen per shot, and powerful destructive power can be operated like a PlayStation --GIGAZINE
In May 2020, the US Navy also succeeded in shooting down a drone from a warship with a laser beam.
US Navy announces successful test of shooting down drone with laser beam from warship --GIGAZINE
In addition to simply shooting down drones and rocket artillery, attempts are being made to mount them in front of fighters and missiles to achieve hypersonic flight.
Technology is being developed to enable hypersonic flight of fighters and missiles with lasers --GIGAZINE
Lockheed Martin is leading the industry in laser weapons. Dr. Afzal said, 'Some people may not want to use high-cost, high-performance guided missiles for low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles. With low-cost lasers, they are against a stronger threat. We can respond with a high response speed. I think that it is Rocky 's Martin's value proposition that we can provide options and functions to respond to changing threats. '