Some Updates to the US military - Politics | PoFo

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So the navy is planning to start rolling out Laser weapons systems on the new Zumwalt class destroyers and Ford class Super carriers.

As well as testing and installing a Railgun on a Zumwalt class in 2018. (The ford class carrier could also get a rail gun eventually).

Both would be much cheaper weapons than missiles and would be capable of taking down Chinese and Russian Hypersonic missiles. As well as drones, planes, and land targets.

The F-35 looks like it's coming close to done as well. They've been sending them out for training deployments in Europe and South Korea.

The first ford class is expected to deploy in 2020, and the zumwalts are already getting deployed.

The army has it's own laser weapon deploying. ... nce-video/

It's also trying to get a laser on a plane and get a railgun onto a howitzer.

It looks like it'll be an interesting few years for the US Military.
This should not be news, really. These developments have been taking place for many decades now. I don't think they'll install rail guns on aircraft carriers as that is what surface combatants are for. Mainly, lasers are an improvement on CIWS that run out of ammunition too quickly. Rail guns could be useful against shore targets for SEAD purposes.
The Israeli army has been using HEL tech for several years now for missile defence, and the US has installed lasers on its AC130U gunship s. Experiments carried out with airborne lasers took place during the Bush administration.
As additional CIWS layer lasers are very useful, with efficiency improvements they will be viable on larger platforms such as ships for mass introduction. The only other area they would be more useful in is in orbit. Aircraft maybe but still too heavy and inefficient to be very powerful in an aircraft.

Outstanding issues are:

1) Exponential decrease in effectiveness over range.
2) Must maintain peak power output from A-B, so 99% of energy is wasted in the beam.
3) Over the horizon targeting from land or sea based platforms is obviously impossible.
4) Subject to reflection/deflection; countermeasures include very simple things such as...mirrors/reflective surfaces tailored for wavelength ranges lasers operate at.

It's going to be a novelty offensive/defensive weapons system for decades to come, until it can be deployed into space and until mobile energy storage/generation increased by orders of magnitude. Most useful right now is as a dazzler, or to damage enemy instrumentation on vehicles, to dazzle surveillance satellites, etc.
Particles cannons and electron beam weapons are better for orbital use. In theory.
Laser systems will undoubtably replace CIWS technology, especially aboard nuclear powered warships where power generation won't be an issue, but where ammunition storage would be.
You can't just hook your laser up to the ships nuclear steam turbine generators. You need to store an electrical charge first, so battery technology will limit it for some years to come.

I think more useful (and devastating) than lasers would be kinetic energy weapons. You could basically concentrate all the energy into propelling a single solid depleted uranium shell at hypersonic velocities, with pin point precision. Would go through anything due to enormous velocities and density of material involved, allowing you to target very specific enemy systems, such as the engine room in a ship, disabling an entire ship with a single shot or to disable an incoming missile (but it could easily be swarmed with numbers).

Once again limited to shorter ranges from land. But actually doable (more so than lasers) on aircraft. Guided missiles that can be fired from over the horizon will continue to have precedence on land.

You could power 10+ magnetic rail guns such as this for the same cost as one laser, it's far more efficient.
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