US targets a megawatt laser by 2023 and then deployment in drones and satellites for hypersonic and ICBM defense

The US Congress wants the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to rapidly develop and demonstrate a boost-phase ICBM (and hypersonic weapon) intercept capability as soon as practicable.

Space-based laser weapons technology is one of the options.

The DARPA High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) fourth phase is a ground-based laser weapon system demonstrator with an approximate average power of 150 kW. One of the goals is to make lasers lighter and more compact. The goal is 5 kg per kW. The High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defence System (HELLADS) will weigh just 750 kilograms and fit into a space about the size of a large refrigerator.

Dr. Michael Griffin undersecretary of defense for Research and Engineering indicates that the US will have 100-kilowatt-class weapons on Army vehicles, 300-kilowatt-class weapons on Air Force tankers and megawatt-class directed energy weapons in space for space defense within the next decade.

Megawatt lasers should be ready around 2023 and the SpaceX BFR would be able to deploy them in space

Congress is authorizing $50 million to push the missile defense laser effort. The effort will allow the continuation of research and development of the three separate laser-scaling efforts, with a goal of demonstrating a 500-kilowatt laser by 2021 and a “best-of-breed’ 1-megawatt laser capability by 2023.

Joseph Keelon, the Missile Defense Agency’s acting program executive for advanced technology wants compact megawatt-class lasers on drones, F-35s and other air force planes so that any vehicle that is in the right position can perform a boost-phase shoot down of an enemy missile.

A megawatt laser with HELLADS weight would be 5 tons. This would be too heavy to put into and F-35. A megawatt laser for a fighter jet would need to be 500 kilograms to 1000 kilograms.

The MDA has to produce a feasibility study on using UAVs and kinetic interceptors by the end of 2021.

33 thoughts on “US targets a megawatt laser by 2023 and then deployment in drones and satellites for hypersonic and ICBM defense”

  1. This is all budgetary window dressing. Electrogravitic propulsion (which is now finally coming into public view) makes ICBM interception an order of magnitude easier and makes SAM’s utterly obsolete. No need for beam weaponry, at least not to shoot down missiles.

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  2. Why is everyone bellow happy about this? Pretty much every military in the world will adopt this now and all it will mean is that nuclear weapons will not be a deterent to a country making a global government (and it means we can’t vote with our feet) and civilians will be massively more screwed by godly insta-death-anywhere lasers that make sure every living being continues being just a cog in a machine under and omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent A.I

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  3. With BFR, the volume of the satellite might be the primary limitation for launch and deployment. A good problem to have, though.

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  4. With BFR the volume of the satellite might be the primary limitation for launch and deployment. A good problem to have though.

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  5. A 5 ton laser even with another 5 tons of energy storage/production whatever could easily fit inside the new B21 even the smallest of the proposals.

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  6. A 5 ton laser even with another 5 tons of energy storage/production whatever could easily fit inside the new B21 even the smallest of the proposals.

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  7. Really? I was under the impression that payload specs for it were long off/classified. Stick that in a B52 though and you’ll only take up 29% of the payload.

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  8. Really? I was under the impression that payload specs for it were long off/classified. Stick that in a B52 though and you’ll only take up 29{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} of the payload.

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  9. Even when things are very classified, you can usually make a solid guess at many specs just because of the requirements of the role and the limits of current technology. A heavy strategic bomber that couldn’t carry 10 tonnes (or tons, if you are old fashioned) of payload would be fairly useless, unless you were going to go back to the 1950s approach of only designing for a nuclear war.

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  10. F-15s can carry up to 5,000lbs on one station, so a MW class laser weapon wouldn’t be restricted to 1,000kgs (to mix measures).

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  11. Even when things are very classified you can usually make a solid guess at many specs just because of the requirements of the role and the limits of current technology.A heavy strategic bomber that couldn’t carry 10 tonnes (or tons if you are old fashioned) of payload would be fairly useless unless you were going to go back to the 1950s approach of only designing for a nuclear war.

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  12. I’d much rather have a cold war than a hot one. So long as China, Russia, Iran and their buddies see the US as too strong to take on, the risk of war is reduced.

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  13. I’d much rather have a cold war than a hot one. So long as China Russia Iran and their buddies see the US as too strong to take on the risk of war is reduced.

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  14. That, or three B52’s each with a laser pod and otherwise in the Arsenal Plane configuration. F-35’s on standby to guide in Tomahawks and other munitions. Would not want to be the enemy on that day.

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  15. That or three B52’s each with a laser pod and otherwise in the Arsenal Plane configuration. F-35’s on standby to guide in Tomahawks and other munitions. Would not want to be the enemy on that day.

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  16. Despite what you hear about the Chinese and Russians getting cozy, it is a very weak relationship built on a cracked foundation. China has much at stake is they go to war with the United States, mainly being they don’t get their sweet debt and their economy would crash from sanctions. A DEAD system (direct energy air defense) would eliminate the need for defensive missiles and would make a air battle highly disastrous with one in the field. It would solve the hyper-sonic ballistic missile issue for carrier groups and ensure the multi-billion dollar behemoths last in a modern battlefield, with the advanced in fusion and nuclear power the power source would be virtually unlimited. I think this would encourage new forms of warfare that would result in amazing technologies.

    Reply
  17. Despite what you hear about the Chinese and Russians getting cozy it is a very weak relationship built on a cracked foundation. China has much at stake is they go to war with the United States mainly being they don’t get their sweet debt and their economy would crash from sanctions. A DEAD system (direct energy air defense) would eliminate the need for defensive missiles and would make a air battle highly disastrous with one in the field. It would solve the hyper-sonic ballistic missile issue for carrier groups and ensure the multi-billion dollar behemoths last in a modern battlefield with the advanced in fusion and nuclear power the power source would be virtually unlimited. I think this would encourage new forms of warfare that would result in amazing technologies.

    Reply
  18. Despite what you hear about the Chinese and Russians getting cozy, it is a very weak relationship built on a cracked foundation. China has much at stake is they go to war with the United States, mainly being they don’t get their sweet debt and their economy would crash from sanctions. A DEAD system (direct energy air defense) would eliminate the need for defensive missiles and would make a air battle highly disastrous with one in the field. It would solve the hyper-sonic ballistic missile issue for carrier groups and ensure the multi-billion dollar behemoths last in a modern battlefield, with the advanced in fusion and nuclear power the power source would be virtually unlimited. I think this would encourage new forms of warfare that would result in amazing technologies.

    Reply
  19. Even when things are very classified, you can usually make a solid guess at many specs just because of the requirements of the role and the limits of current technology.

    A heavy strategic bomber that couldn’t carry 10 tonnes (or tons, if you are old fashioned) of payload would be fairly useless, unless you were going to go back to the 1950s approach of only designing for a nuclear war.

    Reply

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