Future Warfare with Ubiquitous HELs

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William P. Baird

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Dec 13, 2005, 4:03:12 PM12/13/05
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The fixed-site version Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration
(ACTD) Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) THEL, was developed by
TRW Inc. under a $89 million contract. During several tests in the
USA,
the system has shot down 25 Katyusha rockets, but has not been
deployed.[1]

and...

On Nov. 5, 2002, the Army made history when its Mobile Tactical High
Energy Laser (MTHEL) - being tested at the High Energy Laser Systems
Test Facility (HELSTF), White Sands Missile Range, N.M. - found and
blasted out of the sky a 2-foot-long, 152mm artillery round fired by
a
Howitzer and traveling over 1,000 miles per hour. [2]

and...

The Tactical High Energy Laser, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation

for the U.S. Army, shot down multiple mortar rounds Aug. 24 [2004],
proving that laser weapons could be applied on the battlefield to
protect
against common threats.[3]

and...

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Airborne Laser (ABL) program met
a key goal earlier this month by firing its chemical kill laser at
full power
during a ground test, the agency announced Dec. 9.

During the Dec. 6 test, the Northrop Grumman-built chemical laser
exceeded the 10-second duration level needed to destroy ballistic
missiles
in their boost phase of flight, MDA said. The precise duration of the
firing
was not disclosed for security reasons, the agency said.

The test, which occurred in the System Integration Lab at Edwards Air

Force Base, Calif., was the culmination of more than 70 laser
firings.
The laser's "first light," which lasted a fraction of a second,
occurred
in November 2004 (DAILY, Nov. 15, 2004).

"First light proved that the laser worked," a Defense Department
spokesman told The DAILY. "This 10 second-plus test proved that it
fires long enough to destroy ballistic missiles."

and...

Plans call for designing and building a 100-kilowatt SSHCL system in
the laboratory late next year. This laser would be "very
prototypical" of
what might be installed on a mobile battlefield platform, Yamamoto
says.
This laser would be less complicated and cleaner in terms of design
than current laboratory models, he says.

Ultimately, the laboratory seeks to build a megawatt-class SSHCL
laser system, Yamamoto offers. "We have looked at the scaling and
have done a lot of modeling, and we believe that it is very doable,
especially with the enhancements offered by the new technologies
and materials that have surfaced over the past year," he declares.
With the necessary funding, scientists could produce this laser by
2010.[5]

Given there's a little ways to go prior to putting lasers on the
battlefield.
It's a lot closer now than its ever been before. It's definitely no
longer
something that belongs to SF books that James regularly groans over.
The implications of using the lasers out there are going to
be...interesting:

If it flies, it dies.

The variety of targets that can be shot down using a laser vary from
mortar
rounds to aircraft to missiles to artillery rounds. If it moves
through the air,
it's likely to be toast. The cost of a laser shot - if its a solid
state laser, that
is - is going to be cheaper than even making a mortar round. Think
about
that. The whole package is going to be many orders of magnitude more
costly than a mortar tube and associated bombs, but the per shot costs
of downing those rounds is cheaper than the bomb itself. Now, what-if
the lasers are, well, everywhere.

That depends, really, on the packaging that the lasers will have. Are
they
big and bulking like the current THEL or ABL? If so, artillery is
gonna be
around for some time without worries. However, aircraft ought to be
ubernervous. However, if the equipment gets condensed down (all
inclusive) to the size of a turbine engine, it might be possible that
it
becomes as common as your .50 calibre on US Army vehicles. If
/that/ happens, the mantra of 'it flies, it dies' becomes a reality.

Personally, this is, IMNSHO, a matter of when, not if.

And the question becomes...'and then'?

I suspect it becomes a sensor and counter sensor war. Lasers still
need to be pointed at their targets. That, generally, means radar at
this
point. However, for the more sophisticated powers, jamming their
equipment is not so easy as was witnessed by the Iraqi Army attempting
to jam GPS guided bombs. For your average second rate and below
powers,
using aircraft, artillery, and missiles becomes an economically losing
prospect. Even for the more advanced powers, it might be a not so good

position (over time) to continue using those weapons.

So, might we, by the end of the mid 21st century be looking at an
combat
aircraftless and artilleryless battlefield?

I'd guess than that the means of combat becomes direct fire weapons and

mines. We might even be seeing some of that in the form of warfare and

what it entails in Iraq right now with the IEDs. However, there are
devices
already being developed that do detect those bombs and mines
(amusingly,
its a laser spectrometer).

So what do others think? What are the implications of uber common high
energy lasers?

BTW, they won't just be military battlefield considerations, but
political ones
to consider as well. There's little or no chance of a repeat of the
Kosovo
Bombing by NATO, frex.

Will

1. http://www.defense-update.com/directory/THEL.htm

2. http://www.ausa.org/webpub/DeptAUSANews.nsf/byid/CCRN-6CGM65

3.
http://www.st.northropgrumman.com/media/presskits/mediaGallery/thel/videos/media2_4_16388_16472.html

4.
http://www.aviationnow.com/avnow/news/channel_aerospacedaily_story.jsp?id=news/LASER12125.xml

5. http://www.afcea.org/signal/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=729&print=yes

--
William P Baird Do you know why the road less traveled by
Home: anzhalyu@gmail. has so few sightseers? Normally, there
Work: wba...@nersc.go is something big, mean, with very sharp
Blog: thedragonstales teeth - and quite the appetite! - waiting
+ com/v/.blogspot.com somewhere along its dark and twisty bends.

James Nicoll

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Dec 13, 2005, 4:08:56 PM12/13/05
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In article <1134507792.1...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,

William P. Baird <anzh...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>It's a lot closer now than its ever been before. It's definitely no
>longer
>something that belongs to SF books that James regularly groans over.

Hey!

I don't think I complain about lasers (although I don't think
they'd make good side-arms, because of the heat capacity of water:
more efficient to throw stuff at people than to boil them).

Actually, the x-ray laser thread on rasfs and my realization
of what you can do with a 2 AU phased array makes me wonder about the
centralizing effects of advanced laser (and other EMR casting)
technology. On the plus side, you can wire solar system for power.
On the minus, incoming ravening beams of destruction don't give much
warning.

Funny, I was just rereading the space-ship vs wet navy,
both armed with lasers, thread....

--
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/
http://www.livejournal.com/users/james_nicoll

Turrosh Mak

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Dec 13, 2005, 4:27:54 PM12/13/05
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This will very much resemble the Steve Jackson games Ogre/GEV and David
Drake's Hammer's Slammers series. Tanks and troops in mobile suits
firing High Velocity Rounds (if power is unavailable) or Beam/Plasma
weapons (if power is).

William P. Baird

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Dec 13, 2005, 5:47:05 PM12/13/05
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James Nicoll wrote:

> I don't think I complain about lasers

No, the books. You complain about the books you're
forced to read. heh.

> (although I don't think
> they'd make good side-arms, because of the heat capacity of water:
> more efficient to throw stuff at people than to boil them).

Agreed, actually. Lasers have their place, but they're not for killing
tanks or whatnot. Blinding people...that's a possibility, but last I
remember mildly illegal.

We're on the verge of some interesting tech here soon for the
military. Lasers, railguns, and the SuperTrooper Suit are very
near ready[1]. Bleex2 isn't up on the page, but they've been
taking it out to Tilden Park in Berkeley to do sprints with it on
the weekends.

I worked out using the capability that BLEEX has that you can
give more protection all over the body that the current bullet
proof vests give just over the chest.

AKs worthless. Interesting thought that.

Will

1. http://bleex.me.berkeley.edu/bleex.htm.

William P. Baird

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Dec 13, 2005, 5:55:10 PM12/13/05
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Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) are generally bad for killing things
like
tanks and armored personnel. It doesn't take much mass to make DEWs
ineffective. However, that's enough to make missiles, artillery
rounds, and
whatnot really not very effective anymore.

Oh, and making your missile like a mirror isn't gonna help much.
Spinning it
too doesn't help either. That test has been done. There's a nice
picture of
it at HELSTF in their hallway. Not even classified anymore.

Will

IsaacKuo

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Dec 13, 2005, 5:57:05 PM12/13/05
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William P. Baird wrote:

>I'd guess than that the means of combat becomes direct fire
>weapons and mines.

Don't forget that lasers can fire indirectly through a mirror.
At some point you're going to want to do that, so that when
the enemy shoots back he kills an inexpensive mirror rather
than an expensive laser.

So you could use a mortar to lob a disposable mirror drone,
and bounce your laser off the mirror. You could fire over and
around obstacles far more flexibly than today's gravity
based indirect fire. Modern artillery is vulnerable to
counter-fire due to the symmetry of artillery trajectories.
It needs to fire at an angle toward the target. Laser artillery
wouldn't--the disposable mirror can be shot straight upward
or even at an angle away from the target.

I could see things degenerating into something like WW1
trench warfare. Imagine how impenetrable no-man's land
would have been if all the soldiers were equipped with
"mirror guns" and they didn't even have to expose a
helmet to slaughter victims entering no-man's land!

The deadlock could perhaps be broken by tanks under
the cover of heavy anti-laser smoke/dust. Or maybe
by underground "digging" tanks.

Or maybe by lifting body aircraft with heavy ablative laser
armor. These would cross the battlefield at a fast speed,
so they'd need less ablative armor than a slower tank.
At the desired destination, the aircraft noses down to
dig a protective tunnel on impact. At that point it can lob
mirrors upward to fire at the enemy. It's sort of like
transporting a machinegun nest to wherever you want.
Distribute a bunch of these throughout the battlefield, and
you cripple the enemy's ability to resupply. If he runs
out of disposable mirrors before you do, then he either
starts losing lasers or he runs away--oh wait, he can't
run away, because you've surrounded him with laser
nests.

So what do you end up with? Well, there are lots of
disposable mirrors flying around, lots of "artillery",
and even aircraft. It's just different from what we're
used to.

Isaac Kuo

William P. Baird

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Dec 13, 2005, 6:26:37 PM12/13/05
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IsaacKuo wrote:

> Don't forget that lasers can fire indirectly through a mirror.
> At some point you're going to want to do that, so that when
> the enemy shoots back he kills an inexpensive mirror rather
> than an expensive laser.

Beam quality goes to the crapper when done this way. Beam
quality is moy important when firing across a battlefield. Using
your mirrors is a possibility for the future, but prolly not for
some time.

> I could see things degenerating into something like WW1
> trench warfare. Imagine how impenetrable no-man's land
> would have been if all the soldiers were equipped with
> "mirror guns" and they didn't even have to expose a
> helmet to slaughter victims entering no-man's land!
>
> The deadlock could perhaps be broken by tanks under
> the cover of heavy anti-laser smoke/dust. Or maybe
> by underground "digging" tanks.

um. Lasers, at least the realistic ones for the next half
century, are not going to be personnel nor tank killers.
They're going to be limited to a 10 MW or less if I don't
miss my guess. You need higher output for AT or AP
work.

Will

> Isaac Kuo

IsaacKuo

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Dec 13, 2005, 7:39:05 PM12/13/05
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William P. Baird wrote:
> IsaacKuo wrote:

> > Don't forget that lasers can fire indirectly through a mirror.
> > At some point you're going to want to do that, so that when
> > the enemy shoots back he kills an inexpensive mirror rather
> > than an expensive laser.

> Beam quality goes to the crapper when done this way. Beam
> quality is moy important when firing across a battlefield. Using
> your mirrors is a possibility for the future, but prolly not for
> some time.

Quick reacting adaptive optics is already required just to
maintain beam quality through the atmosphere. There's
no particular reason it can't be used to simultaneously
deal with vibrations in a free floating objective mirror.

> > I could see things degenerating into something like WW1
> > trench warfare. Imagine how impenetrable no-man's land
> > would have been if all the soldiers were equipped with
> > "mirror guns" and they didn't even have to expose a
> > helmet to slaughter victims entering no-man's land!

> > The deadlock could perhaps be broken by tanks under
> > the cover of heavy anti-laser smoke/dust. Or maybe
> > by underground "digging" tanks.

> um. Lasers, at least the realistic ones for the next half
> century, are not going to be personnel nor tank killers.

If they're not going to be personnel killers, then they
certainly aren't going to be aircraft killers nor are they
going to be artillery killers. It takes a lot more "oomph"
to kill a jet plane than it does to kill a human.

> They're going to be limited to a 10 MW or less if I don't
> miss my guess. You need higher output for AT or AP
> work.

Let's see, going with John Schilling's laser sidearm
concept, it takes about 1kilojoule to incapacitate a
human target (with penetrating pulses). 10MW
would be enough power for 10,000 shots per
second. Move over, minigun! He notes that it takes
a couple orders of magnitude more energy to
incapacitate a human in radiant flame-thrower style.
That's still 100 shots per second, and this time you
don't have to aim very well. Just "flame on" and
scorch the target area!

Using these penetrating pulses to take out a tank is
more of a challenge, especially at longer range.
However, lasers can be targeted specifically at
more vulnerable spots, including top armor.

Isaac Kuo

James Nicoll

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Dec 13, 2005, 11:11:15 PM12/13/05
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In article <1134514025.7...@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

William P. Baird <anzh...@gmail.com> wrote:
>James Nicoll wrote:
>
>> I don't think I complain about lasers
>
>No, the books. You complain about the books you're
>forced to read. heh.

I get paid. No force involved. It was my choice to never
say no.

And there are perks, like the Kuttner/Moore anthology
up on my coffee table and the new James Patrick Kelly.

>> (although I don't think
>> they'd make good side-arms, because of the heat capacity of water:
>> more efficient to throw stuff at people than to boil them).
>
>Agreed, actually. Lasers have their place, but they're not for killing
>tanks or whatnot. Blinding people...that's a possibility, but last I
>remember mildly illegal.

I don't mean this in a dismissive way but aside from war
crimes, what are they good for?

>We're on the verge of some interesting tech here soon for the
>military. Lasers, railguns, and the SuperTrooper Suit are very
>near ready[1]. Bleex2 isn't up on the page, but they've been
>taking it out to Tilden Park in Berkeley to do sprints with it on
>the weekends.
>
>I worked out using the capability that BLEEX has that you can
>give more protection all over the body that the current bullet
>proof vests give just over the chest.
>
>AKs worthless. Interesting thought that.
>
> Will
>
>1. http://bleex.me.berkeley.edu/bleex.htm.
>

Interesting and with clear civilian aps as well.

I bet the poor saps in the military who get the weaponized
versions will swap out armour for ammo. Or at least some of them
will. And I bet they don't float.

sigi...@yahoo.com

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Dec 14, 2005, 8:22:50 AM12/14/05
to

Point of clarification.

The lasers are "killing" rockets and artillery rounds... how, exactly?
Destroying the electronics? Detonating the HE?

Because ISTM that an old-fashioned dumb artillery round -- just a
blunt-nosed metal cylinder -- would be pretty much immune to laser
attack.

Or am I misunderstanding?


Doug M.

William P. Baird

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Dec 14, 2005, 12:55:28 PM12/14/05
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Hola, Doug! Feeling better?

sigi...@yahoo.com wrote:

> Point of clarification.
>
> The lasers are "killing" rockets and artillery rounds... how, exactly?
> Destroying the electronics? Detonating the HE?

There are three different methods really. The method depends
on the type of laser and the target. For continuous wave lasers
(ie nonpulsed lasers like MIRACL, ABL, THEL) like the method
is to put a lot of energy into the target. This does one of two
things.
Either it enduces a 'Rapid Thermical Cookoff' by dumping heat into
the explosive or burns a hole in the structure of the target in
sensative areas. For the 152mm artillery shells, mortar rounds,
and katyushas, its the warhead detonation via the RTC. For
ballistic missiles, you drill a hole in it while its under stress and
you get a catastrophic failure. For aircraft either you aim for bits
sticking out (like bombs and do an RTC or control surfaces) or
for delicate spots like fuel tanks or cockpits.

The second method is via pulsed lasers. They enduce shock
damage as well as thermal because the pulse evaporates bits of
the target explosively. Pulsed lasers like this are new and being
developed: the LLNL-HELSTF project building the solid state laser
is one such. Pulsed lasers have more promise than CW lasers,
but they're newer tech and all the effects testing that's been done
for the past 25 years with the CW lasers hasn't been replicated yet
with these.

> Because ISTM that an old-fashioned dumb artillery round -- just a
> blunt-nosed metal cylinder -- would be pretty much immune to laser
> attack.

Nope. The 152mm artillery round was shot out the of sky pretty
easily by THEL.

Will

> Doug M.

William P. Baird

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Dec 14, 2005, 1:02:24 PM12/14/05
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Hola, Doug! Feeling better?

sigi...@yahoo.com wrote:

> Point of clarification.
>
> The lasers are "killing" rockets and artillery rounds... how, exactly?
> Destroying the electronics? Detonating the HE?

There are three different methods really. The method depends


on the type of laser and the target. For continuous wave lasers
(ie nonpulsed lasers like MIRACL, ABL, THEL) like the method
is to put a lot of energy into the target. This does one of two
things.
Either it enduces a 'Rapid Thermical Cookoff' by dumping heat into
the explosive or burns a hole in the structure of the target in
sensative areas. For the 152mm artillery shells, mortar rounds,
and katyushas, its the warhead detonation via the RTC. For
ballistic missiles, you drill a hole in it while its under stress and
you get a catastrophic failure. For aircraft either you aim for bits
sticking out (like bombs and do an RTC or control surfaces) or
for delicate spots like fuel tanks or cockpits.

The second method is via pulsed lasers. They enduce shock
damage as well as thermal because the pulse evaporates bits of
the target explosively. Pulsed lasers like this are new and being
developed: the LLNL-HELSTF project building the solid state laser
is one such. Pulsed lasers have more promise than CW lasers,
but they're newer tech and all the effects testing that's been done
for the past 25 years with the CW lasers hasn't been replicated yet
with these.

> Because ISTM that an old-fashioned dumb artillery round -- just a


> blunt-nosed metal cylinder -- would be pretty much immune to laser
> attack.

Nope. The 152mm artillery round was shot out the of sky pretty
easily by THEL.

Will

> Doug M.

--

Noel

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Dec 14, 2005, 4:50:30 PM12/14/05
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William P. Baird wrote:
> Hola, Doug! Feeling better?

---Seconded!

Which brings me to my question for Will: who is fighting these
high-intensity interstate wars and why?

The last thread on the topic fizzled out, as did the "Imperialism
Redux" thread, leading me to believe that both are just damned
unlikely. Mores change, norms change. It doesn't mean that
speculation about future weapons in uninteresting --- rather,
it's fascinating. (So please continue.) But it strikes me that
it's very bloody likely that the world of 2100 will have all these
weapons (lasers or whatever) with no more real knowledge of
their effects on tactics and operations than we have right now.

Challenge: Convince me otherwise. And not simply that they're
possible --- I preemptively agree. Convince me that these high-
intensity interstate wars are likely.

Oh, and convince that imperialism will make a return while you're
at it. Using foreign aid to bribe African countries is pretty weak
imperial gruel, I must say.

Best,

Noel

William P. Baird

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Dec 14, 2005, 4:57:52 PM12/14/05
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IsaacKuo wrote:

> Quick reacting adaptive optics is already required just to
> maintain beam quality through the atmosphere. There's
> no particular reason it can't be used to simultaneously
> deal with vibrations in a free floating objective mirror.

he USAF disagrees with you. They believe that the floating
mirror /requires/ adaptive optics.

While the advantages of a relay-mirror system are many, so
are the technical challenges. First, engineers must control the
beam characteristics of both the illuminator and the high-energy
laser to minimize the size of the mirror that receives the
high-power beam. Likewise, engineers must create an uplink
capability that can acquire and actively track the location of
the relay mirror as well as provide the information required for
the adaptive-optics feedback loops. Although conventional
adaptive optics can accomplish many useful missions,
incorporating advanced adaptive optics into the source
and relay systems will increase deployment opportunities
by maximizing the system's range and efficiency.

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj04/spr04/lamberson.html

That kinda causes some problems for the concept of
firing off cheap-o mirrors from mortars (secure data links,
adaptive optics, etc). Laser beams are simply too, erm,
delicate. They're not Star Wars Blasters. Additionally,
the USAF concept might not be much better. Consider
that the battlefiled that's filled with bountiful lasers is going
to make mince meat of floating or flying balloons.

> If they're not going to be personnel killers, then they
> certainly aren't going to be aircraft killers nor are they
> going to be artillery killers. It takes a lot more "oomph"
> to kill a jet plane than it does to kill a human.

You're assuming that lasers are lasers and all wave
lengths are created equally for all tasks. The midinfrared
- wavelengths that don't get eaten by CO2 ASAP - are not
terribly dangerous to people. When I went for eye exams
when I worked at HELSTF and I was asked about what
sort of lasers I was working with (by a nervous dr) when
I answered the general wavelengths, he was elated. MidIR
does some of the least damage to the eye and people in
general.

That said, I don't recommend that you stand in the beam path
of MIRACL or THEL, Isaac.

> Let's see, going with John Schilling's laser sidearm
> concept, it takes about 1kilojoule to incapacitate a
> human target (with penetrating pulses).

If you mean this concept (http://tinyurl.com/6jt4) then
he might have made a few mistakes in the math. He
states that his concept would drill a hole in cement
taht was 5 cm deep. He also states in googling to get
the same effect you need to have a couple orders of
magnitude more powerful laser to get the same effect.
While I haven't seen the effects of a pulsed laser, there
is a wonderful example of what a megawatt class CW
laser (MIRACL) can (or rather cannot) do to a concrete
block. The lase lasted over 30 seconds and there was
less than a cm in penetration. It sits outside the Laser
Systems Test Center entry at HELSTF with a placard
on the exact lase time. It didn't get even close to the
penetration that John's collective comments would
imply. In fact, if memory holds true, the penetration
was of less than 1/2 cm.

To be generous that would mean 1/2 cm at over 30
seconds with a megawatt class CW DF laser.

Using a CW laser his numbers would be 5 cm with
100 kilowatt for one second.

It would be interesting to see what the differences are
for the newer pulsed lasers, but as far as the numbers
generated about CW lasers, they're, well, wrong based
on RL testing.

This isn't a dig at John. He's a good guy and very
intelligent. I'm sure his calculations were BoE. That
can be prone to error. If you want to go see the cement
block for yourself, then email or call the HELSTF PAO.

William P. Baird

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Dec 14, 2005, 5:44:10 PM12/14/05
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Noel wrote:
> Which brings me to my question for Will: who is fighting these
> high-intensity interstate wars and why?

Good question.

> Challenge: Convince me otherwise. And not simply that they're
> possible --- I preemptively agree. Convince me that these high-
> intensity interstate wars are likely.

The classic right now as for peer or near peer warfare is the USA
vs PRC. Taiwan declaring indepedance is one possibility. If Taiwan
declares indepedance during the right US administration, there will be
a war.

Pakistan having an islamist coup: the US moves in to secure the nukes.

China moves likewise. PRC and American troops rub elbows wrong[1]
and things go very south. Very fast.

Iran and the USA.

EU and Russia (SCO?) over Ukraine or Georgia.

> Oh, and convince that imperialism will make a return while you're
> at it. Using foreign aid to bribe African countries is pretty weak
> imperial gruel, I must say.

That one. hrm.

Central Asia. Russia and China under the guise of the SCO to face
down the US and prevent further color revolutions. The Russians and
Chinese are talking economic block and military alliance above and
beyond what's been done already. Additionally, there's conflicting
information about how much the PRC and RF are going to expand it.
There was some noise about hands extended to ASEAN and
'nonduplication of organizations'. Belarus just went to Beijing (not
Moscow) to try to be admitted at least to observer status.

SCO has already been called the 'NATO of the East'.

Something interesting is happening there with respect to the SCO.
What, exactly, will be interesting to see. Something's brewing there.
I brought that up not long ago here to see it fall flat.

IDK if it counts as imperialism or not, but I'll let you judge that.

Will

1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/671495.stm

> Noel

IsaacKuo

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Dec 14, 2005, 6:06:30 PM12/14/05
to

William P. Baird wrote:
>IsaacKuo wrote:

>>Quick reacting adaptive optics is already required just to
>>maintain beam quality through the atmosphere. There's
>>no particular reason it can't be used to simultaneously
>>deal with vibrations in a free floating objective mirror.

>he USAF disagrees with you. They believe that the floating
>mirror /requires/ adaptive optics.

The USAF is biased, because they wants an excuse to put
lasers on aircraft instead of on ships or ground
installations. Still, what they say is true...

> While the advantages of a relay-mirror system are many, so
> are the technical challenges. First, engineers must control the
> beam characteristics of both the illuminator and the high-energy
> laser to minimize the size of the mirror that receives the
> high-power beam. Likewise, engineers must create an uplink
> capability that can acquire and actively track the location of
> the relay mirror as well as provide the information required for
> the adaptive-optics feedback loops. Although conventional
> adaptive optics can accomplish many useful missions,
> incorporating advanced adaptive optics into the source
> and relay systems will increase deployment opportunities
> by maximizing the system's range and efficiency.

This assumes relaying mirrors which are very far from
the laser generator, rather than an objective mirror
which happens to be a bit further away from the laser.

In ABL and other lasers, the objective mirror does NOT
have adaptive optics. There is a much smaller adaptive
optics mirror incorporated in the laser's optical path.

In a relay system, some sort of adaptive optics in each
relay mirror would be needed, because adaptive optics
in the laser generator must already use its full capability
just to focus a spot onto the far-away relay mirror.
Atmospheric variations between the laser generator and
the far-away relay mirror are the most that the optics
can deal with.

Things are very different for a close by mirror. Over
a distance of, say, 50m or less, atmospheric disruption
of the beam should be minimal. That's plenty of
height to pop up a mirror above some terrain/cover for
indirect fire.

Of course, for ABL, a "relay mirror" 50m away from the
laser generating aircraft is pointless.

>That kinda causes some problems for the concept of
>firing off cheap-o mirrors from mortars (secure data links,
>adaptive optics, etc).

I should be specific whenever I use the term "mortar".
To me, the definition of "mortar" is a gun which fires
upward at an angle greater than 45 degrees. In this
case, it fires a disposable mirror a relatively short
distance upward and away from the target. Over such
short distances, there's no problem with a secure data
link. There's no particular reason adaptive optics
would be required, over short distances.

To repeat, I am NOT talking about a stock 81mm mortar
firing some medium velocity mortar bomb in a lobbing
trajectory toward a faraway target.

Theoretically, disposable mirrors could be delivered
from a long distance by mortar, so that a laser platform
which has run out of disposable mirrors could use them.
However, this assumes that these mirrors sailing high
through the sky even make it that far. Plausibly, they'd
be under attack soon after popping up over the horizon.
In contrast, "frisbee mirrors" might be able to glide
in behind cover, and then pop up just before being used
to attack.

>Consider that the battlefiled that's filled with
>bountiful lasers is going to make mince meat of
>floating or flying balloons.

Who mentioned balloons? They aren't used much on today's
battlefield, lasers or not.

>>If they're not going to be personnel killers, then they
>>certainly aren't going to be aircraft killers nor are they
>>going to be artillery killers. It takes a lot more "oomph"
>>to kill a jet plane than it does to kill a human.

>You're assuming that lasers are lasers and all wave
>lengths are created equally for all tasks. The midinfrared
>- wavelengths that don't get eaten by CO2 ASAP - are not
>terribly dangerous to people. When I went for eye exams
>when I worked at HELSTF and I was asked about what
>sort of lasers I was working with (by a nervous dr) when
>I answered the general wavelengths, he was elated. MidIR
>does some of the least damage to the eye and people in
>general.

The energy doesn't just magically bounce off human flesh
and clothes. Why would they be magically more dangerous
to aircraft? Because water has so much more heat capacity
than aluminum?

To a rough approximation, it takes maybe four times the
"oomph" to deal with aircraft as it does to deal with
humans. A common anti-human weapon is a 7.62mm machinegun.
A 7.62mm NATO round is able to reliably cause casualties
even against most body armor. The smallest calibre weapon
considered viable against metal skinned aircraft is a
12.7mm heavy machinegun. The 12.7mm round is roughly
four times as powerful as the 7.62mm NATO round.

>>Let's see, going with John Schilling's laser sidearm
>>concept, it takes about 1kilojoule to incapacitate a
>>human target (with penetrating pulses).

>If you mean this concept (http://tinyurl.com/6jt4) then
>he might have made a few mistakes in the math. He
>states that his concept would drill a hole in cement
>taht was 5 cm deep. He also states in googling to get
>the same effect you need to have a couple orders of
>magnitude more powerful laser to get the same effect.

With a continuous laser.

>While I haven't seen the effects of a pulsed laser, there
>is a wonderful example of what a megawatt class CW
>laser (MIRACL) can (or rather cannot) do to a concrete
>block. The lase lasted over 30 seconds and there was
>less than a cm in penetration.

What was the lasing spot size? John Schilling assumes
a spot size of about 1mm across, and also assumes a
pulse laser. A pulse laser could produce damage far
more efficiently than a continuous laser.

Isaac Kuo

Noel

unread,
Dec 14, 2005, 9:40:36 PM12/14/05
to
William P. Baird wrote:
> Noel wrote:
> > Which brings me to my question for Will: who is fighting these
> > high-intensity interstate wars and why?
>
> Good question.
>
> > Challenge: Convince me otherwise. And not simply that they're
> > possible --- I preemptively agree. Convince me that these high-
> > intensity interstate wars are likely.

---I am far from emotionally-wedded to my conclusion that inter-
state wars are on the far edge of improbability; at some level, I'd
almost like to be convinced otherwise.

But that's what I see. Look below.

> The classic right now as for peer or near peer warfare is the USA
> vs PRC. Taiwan declaring indepedance is one possibility. If Taiwan
> declares indepedance during the right US administration, there will be
> a war.

---But why would Taiwan do this? Sure, it could happen,
but lots of things could happen. It's just astoundingly
improbable.

> Pakistan having an islamist coup: the US moves in to secure the nukes.

---I'm assuming that this is just the first part leading to
the second one, below:

> China moves likewise. PRC and American troops rub elbows wrong[1]
> and things go very south. Very fast.

---That's way too vague to be convincing. During the Cold
War, when the U.S. and USSR really did have divergent
interests, nothing like this occured. It's hard to see why
China and the U.S. would have different interests in Cen-
tral Asia. Even if so, it's hard to see why their governments
would see a high-intensity war with the other as a decent
way to secure those interests.

> Iran and the USA.

---Over what? Why? How? Is there a scenario that doesn't
depend on a historically-unlikely run of bad luck and worse
judgment?

I'm not saying that above slugging matches couldn't happen;
I'm just saying that the above really isn't enough to convince
me that any of them are any more probable than a large
meteor strike.

> EU and Russia (SCO?) over Ukraine or Georgia.

---Uh ... er ... how would that happen, exactly, in a democratic
age where everyone accepts the juridical sovereignty of indep-
dent states?

There's part of me that would almost like to believe that inter-
state war is a serious possibility, in the sense that it makes
the future more interesting --- not in the sense that it makes
the future more pleasant. But whenever I try to play the
scenarios over in my head, they all seem to rely on really
bad luck and serious stupidity; even when they don't, they
all seem fusty and old-fashioned, as if the scenario-writers
have trouble believing that the "right of conquest" just isn't
legitimate anymore in anyone's eyes. So they all seem
down there with meteor strikes: could happen, probably
worth preparing against, might make a good setting for
a novel ... but too unlikely to really be interesting to
speculate about. Am I wrong? Like I said, a perverse
part of me would like to be.

Doug? Alan Lothian? Carlos? Anyone else? Is high-
intensity interstate war passing into history, especially
of the Great Power variety, or does past performance in
fact predict future results?

Intensely curious,

Noel

Coyu

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 7:39:28 AM12/15/05
to
Noel wrote:

> Doug? Alan Lothian? Carlos? Anyone else? Is high-
> intensity interstate war passing into history, especially
> of the Great Power variety, or does past performance in
> fact predict future results?

Great Powers that have internal checks on their self-
interests aren't infallible in their checks or balances.
(Hard to deny, since we live in one.) What seems to
need to happen is two Great Powers with competing
interests and low opinions of each other to have a
failure in their internal checks-and-balances system
at the same time.

Not likely -- probably less likely than the pre-WWI
system, and certainly so for the interwar system --
but not impossible.

It'll look stupid and low-probability should it occur.
See my above parenthetical comment.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 9:41:39 AM12/15/05
to
In article <1134614436.8...@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
>
>> Iran and the USA.
>
>---Over what? Why? How? Is there a scenario that doesn't
>depend on a historically-unlikely run of bad luck and worse
>judgment?

WMD played once for the crowds so why not a second time?

In this case, not only does the current administration seem
not entirely averse to a war with Iran but the current administration
of Iran doesn't seem to be going out of their way to avoid it. I
think they might be trying the Serbian Gambit, where you provoke
a world war and get an expanded nation out of it.

Come to think of it, that's the George Washington gambit
(Seven Years Wars -> ARW). Not sure it works in a single superpower
setting, though.

Noel

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 10:37:41 AM12/15/05
to

James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <1134614436.8...@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
> Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
> >
> >> Iran and the USA.
> >
> >---Over what? Why? How? Is there a scenario that doesn't
> >depend on a historically-unlikely run of bad luck and worse
> >judgment?
>
> WMD played once for the crowds so why not a second time?

---Give me a break. You know full well why not. Please,
James, can we avoid the gratuitous comments?

> In this case, not only does the current administration seem
> not entirely averse to a war with Iran but the current administration
> of Iran doesn't seem to be going out of their way to avoid it. I
> think they might be trying the Serbian Gambit, where you provoke
> a world war and get an expanded nation out of it.

---The Iranians? Could be. But I'd like to point out that
the subject of the above sentence is unclear. Who is
"they"?

But it won't happen anytime soon.

Among the myriad problems with going to war with Iran is
that we can't --- where are the troops going to come from?

Then there is the problem that Iran is likely to lose the con-
ventional portion of any such war, and rather quickly, which
would then take the conflict OT for this thread. We're now
in Highly Organized and Well Prepared Insurgency with full
popular support and a highly nationalistic population.

Which swings us back to point (1). Considering the loss
of support that the second Gulf War has caused the Bush
Administration --- something you may have noticed --- how
is the U.S. to muster the effort necessary to fight such a war?
Oh, we'd do it in the wake of a nuclear bomb explosion traced
back to Iran. And we'd have an interstate war if Iran decided
to invade Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or whatever. But not an
invasion; just a repeat of Gulf War I. Which is why the
Iranian won't try.

If Iraq had gone swimmingly, yeah. But it didn't, and given
the recent collapse in the Bush Administration's support and
the sudden reanimation of the American press, war with Iran
is not going to happen. Even if the Administration wanted to,
which they screamingly don't anymore.

Best,

Noel

sigi...@yahoo.com

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 11:00:44 AM12/15/05
to

William P. Baird wrote:
> Hola, Doug! Feeling better?
>
> sigi...@yahoo.com wrote:
>
> > Point of clarification.
> >
> > The lasers are "killing" rockets and artillery rounds... how, exactly?
> > Destroying the electronics? Detonating the HE?
>
> There are three different methods really. The method depends
> on the type of laser and the target. For continuous wave lasers
> (ie nonpulsed lasers like MIRACL, ABL, THEL) like the method
> is to put a lot of energy into the target... [inducing] a 'Rapid

> Thermical Cookoff' by dumping heat into
> the explosive or burns a hole in the structure of the target in
> sensative areas. For the 152mm artillery shells, mortar rounds,
> and katyushas, its the warhead detonation via the RTC.
>
> The second method is via pulsed lasers. [snip these as not quite available yet]

>
> > Because ISTM that an old-fashioned dumb artillery round -- just a
> > blunt-nosed metal cylinder -- would be pretty much immune to laser
> > attack.
>
> Nope. The 152mm artillery round was shot out the of sky pretty
> easily by THEL.

Talking past each other. I was talking about using a shell with no
warhead, like 100 years ago.

Obviously these were way, way less effective. But ISTM that you could
"harden" a shell to carry a (possibly smaller) warhead, and still be
immune to thermal attack. Insulate the warhead, or use an explosive
that can't be heat-triggered.

No?


Doug M.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 11:21:36 AM12/15/05
to
In article <1134661060.9...@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
>
>James Nicoll wrote:
>> In article <1134614436.8...@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
>> Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
>> >
>> >> Iran and the USA.
>> >
>> >---Over what? Why? How? Is there a scenario that doesn't
>> >depend on a historically-unlikely run of bad luck and worse
>> >judgment?
>>
>> WMD played once for the crowds so why not a second time?
>
>---Give me a break. You know full well why not. Please,
>James, can we avoid the gratuitous comments?

There is a potential difference between Iran and
Iraq, which is that Iraq seems not to have actually had
WMD to speak of (the odd binary gas shell aside), whereas
how many of us would be gobsmacked if Iran tested a nuclear
explosive in the next few years?



>> In this case, not only does the current administration seem
>> not entirely averse to a war with Iran but the current administration
>> of Iran doesn't seem to be going out of their way to avoid it. I
>> think they might be trying the Serbian Gambit, where you provoke
>> a world war and get an expanded nation out of it.
>
>---The Iranians? Could be. But I'd like to point out that
>the subject of the above sentence is unclear. Who is
>"they"?

Iran. Specifically the current President of Iran, Mr
"Move Israel to Ohio or Northumbria".

If he thinks Bush has shot his wad politically while the
US military is too entangled in Iraq to be useful elsewhere, then
building up his personal rep by rattling the bars on the US's cage.

Also Israel's, which seems a bit unwise given the Israeli
record wrt hostile nations' WMD programs.


>But it won't happen anytime soon.
>
>Among the myriad problems with going to war with Iran is
>that we can't --- where are the troops going to come from?
>

There's always the "c" word.

snip

>If Iraq had gone swimmingly, yeah. But it didn't, and given
>the recent collapse in the Bush Administration's support and
>the sudden reanimation of the American press, war with Iran
>is not going to happen. Even if the Administration wanted to,
>which they screamingly don't anymore.

The scenario I have in mind is where Iran's government
misjudges how far they can push the US and get away with it. More
blatent involvement in the coming civil war in Iraq, say, or
maybe something involving US troops near the border of Afghanistant
and Iran.

Noel

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 12:39:47 PM12/15/05
to

James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <1134661060.9...@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

> >But it won't happen anytime soon.
> >
> >Among the myriad problems with going to war with Iran is
> >that we can't --- where are the troops going to come from?
> >
> There's always the "c" word.

---Except there's not. It's a question of public support. The
U.S. had a brief window of opportunity to reinstate peacetime
conscription in the months after 9-11; the government didn't
take it. It then chose to fight Gulf War II with minimum calls
for civilian sacrifice, and now has run into a collapse in public
support for the resulting counterinsurgency.

This Administration doesn't have the political capital to ram
through a draft absent an Iranian attack on Pearl Harbor.
Future administrations will find it equally difficult, at least
until the memories of the Iraq embroglio fade away.

Of course, even if there were a draft, it would be at least
six months before the first contingents were ready ... and
more likely a year. It takes between 12 weeks and six
months to train enlisted personnel, and even then you'll
want more training and some time for the new units to
ramp up to speed ... plus the lead time needed to expand
our training infrastructure and the need to acquire enough
kit and logistical support for the new units. Heck, might
even be 18 months. So absent a peacetime draft --- and
that ship, never particularly seaworthy, sailed sometime in
2002 --- you'd need a national commitment to a protracted
conflict for conscription to be a feasible political option.

(Canada could do the training part much faster --- but the
Canadian reserves are organized with national mobilization
in mind. DidI ever say that you fellows are quite sneaky?
Ah, more admiration for the northern neighbor. Neverthe-
less, Canada would have far more trouble than the U.S.
in acquiring enough kit and establishing logistical support
for an expanded Army, so six of one and half a dozen of
the other.)

Of course, once the current fight ends, one could easily
double the size of the volunteer Army. But that takes
money and a national consensus that a doubled Army
is needed, which flounders on Republican aversion to
taxes and Democratic aversion to an Army bigger than
what's needed to actually secure the safety and vital
interests of the United States.

> snip
>
> >If Iraq had gone swimmingly, yeah. But it didn't, and given
> >the recent collapse in the Bush Administration's support and
> >the sudden reanimation of the American press, war with Iran
> >is not going to happen. Even if the Administration wanted to,
> >which they screamingly don't anymore.
>
> The scenario I have in mind is where Iran's government
> misjudges how far they can push the US and get away with it. More
> blatent involvement in the coming civil war in Iraq, say, or
> maybe something involving US troops near the border of Afghanistant
> and Iran.

---The rub is turning such miscalculation into an invasion of Iran,
as opposed to a border clash followed by devastating airstrikes
and then an Iranian stand-down. I suppose it could happen, but
the Iranians would really need to open the floodgates in Iraq,
and even then we wouldn't invade right now because we can't.

Best,

Noel, shamefacedly giving props to the Air Force yet again

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 12:56:28 PM12/15/05
to
In article <1134668387.2...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>,

Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
>
>(Canada could do the training part much faster --- but the
>Canadian reserves are organized with national mobilization
>in mind. DidI ever say that you fellows are quite sneaky?
>Ah, more admiration for the northern neighbor. Neverthe-
>less, Canada would have far more trouble than the U.S.
>in acquiring enough kit and establishing logistical support
>for an expanded Army, so six of one and half a dozen of
>the other.)
>

Pay no attention to the escalating war of words
between Prime Minister Dithers and President Chimpzilla*.
No aggression is intended, our territorial demands will
be reasonable and besides, you guys started it.

James Nicoll


* Bush is widely thought to be behind Ambassador Sideous's
recent chiding of Martin:

http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/12/13/wilkins-051213.html

Is the intention of the current regime in Washington to give Martin
a majority? Because this is the way to make it happen.

So is this:

http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20051201-081526-4938r.htm

But Martin has Canadian allies pushing for his re-election as well:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051213/elxn_harper_speech_051214/20051214?hub=Canada


Which gets back to the age old question of what would happen if Canada
had an opposition competent enough to pour piss out of a boot with
instructions on the heel?

William P. Baird

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 2:41:06 PM12/15/05
to
sigi...@yahoo.com wrote:

> Talking past each other. I was talking about using a shell with no
> warhead, like 100 years ago.

Ah. A kinetic energy weapon in otherwords.

Lasers would be pretty ineffective agains them if they are merely a
big dumb round. If they have electronics for guidance, they might
have issues though.

They definitely have issues if there are high energy microwave weapons
floating around the battlefield too. That's an area I'm less informed
about
though.

> Obviously these were way, way less effective. But ISTM that you could
> "harden" a shell to carry a (possibly smaller) warhead, and still be
> immune to thermal attack. Insulate the warhead, or use an explosive
> that can't be heat-triggered.
>
> No?

*ponders*

You could stick it in what is essentially a dewar flask (aka thermos).
However, IDK if you can harden such a beast as easily. It would
need a greater interior volume for the round for the same explosive
power. It adds to the per round cost as well.

Might be possible. Might push the cost per shot too high. On the
whole the dumb shot - or kinetic energy rounds - that you mentioned
first might work better.

sigi...@yahoo.com

unread,
Dec 15, 2005, 7:12:07 PM12/15/05
to

You know, the more I think about this, the less sure I am that it's
going to shut artillery down.

I can see something like this transforming the role of aircraft, sure.
But artillery, less so. Shells are cheap, and you can do all sorts of
things with them. Kinetic energy rounds. Hardened rounds. Rounds that
do new sorts of things, like MIRVing as soon as coherent light touches
them.

Laser killers. The problem with a laser beam is, it's straight. You
can't disguise where it's coming from.

I'm thinking of a cheap rocket with a gun mounted on it. As soon as
it's hit by the laser, the gun fires a tungsten round down the laser's
path.

Or just swamp it. How many shells can this thing knock out of the air
at once? Two, three, four? Okay, guns start travelling in packs of
three, four, five. The last shell is the one that gets the laser
battery.

...power requirements. Gotta think this thing uses hella power. Is it
mobile? How many "shots" will it get before we have to plug it back
into the wall socket?

Aircraft: maybe a big shift to pilotless drones. But it's not a
show-stopper. Every drone is programmed to sqawk the moment it feels
coherent light. Very soon thereafter, many small kamikaze drones, each
carrying a few hundred grams of HE, are headed very fast towards the
source.

I'm brainstorming. But my point is, there are countermeasures to
everything. There will be for this too.


Doug M.

Noel

unread,
Dec 17, 2005, 3:36:26 AM12/17/05
to

James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <1134668387.2...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>,
> Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
> >
> >(Canada could do the training part much faster --- but the
> >Canadian reserves are organized with national mobilization
> >in mind. DidI ever say that you fellows are quite sneaky?
> >Ah, more admiration for the northern neighbor. Neverthe-
> >less, Canada would have far more trouble than the U.S.
> >in acquiring enough kit and establishing logistical support
> >for an expanded Army, so six of one and half a dozen of
> >the other.)
> >
>
> Pay no attention to the escalating war of words
> between Prime Minister Dithers and President Chimpzilla*.
> No aggression is intended, our territorial demands will
> be reasonable and besides, you guys started it.
>
> James Nicoll
>
>
> * Bush is widely thought to be behind Ambassador Sideous's
> recent chiding of Martin:
>
> http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/12/13/wilkins-051213.html
>
> Is the intention of the current regime in Washington to give Martin
> a majority? Because this is the way to make it happen.

---Your Prime Minister is a wuss. All I can say is that if America had
30 million people, and Canada 300 million, and you guys acted the way
we did, we'd be hella more vocal about it.

Heck, man, we are in the Blue States. So go write Martin and tell him
he needs to score more cheap points. Every bit helps us patriots down
south, my friend.

> So is this:
>
> http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20051201-081526-4938r.htm
>
> But Martin has Canadian allies pushing for his re-election as well:
>
> http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051213/elxn_harper_speech_051214/20051214?hub=Canada
>
>
> Which gets back to the age old question of what would happen if Canada
> had an opposition competent enough to pour piss out of a boot with
> instructions on the heel?

---The Liberals thumpingly lose. I really do hope that you fellows get
your opposition together before the Liberals go the way of our ruling
party. It's not that I'm that bothered by living in a conservative
coun-
try --- I can handle that. In fact, at times I even like it, being a
con-
trarian type. (And liking both guns and country music.) It's the
whole corrupt hypocrisy reality-free thing that gets me. So be
afraid, Canada, be very afraid. I lived in New York in the 1980s,
and imagining the New York Democratic Party in charge of a
country but without a serious, moderate, and studiously reason-
able local GOP to keep 'em honest and sensible is a very scary
thing.

Best,

Noel, who woulda voted for Bloomberg, if he were still registered
at home

Davi...@missouristate.edu

unread,
Dec 17, 2005, 5:22:50 AM12/17/05
to
Noel wrote:
> James Nicoll wrote:
> > In article <1134668387.2...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>,
> > Noel <mau...@itam.mx> wrote:
<snip>

>
> Heck, man, we are in the Blue States. So go write Martin and tell him
> he needs to score more cheap points. Every bit helps us patriots down
> south, my friend.

The question isn't whether he has reason to whine(who doesn't think he
does?). The question is whether whining is the best way to get what he
wants.

<snip>


> > Which gets back to the age old question of what would happen if Canada
> > had an opposition competent enough to pour piss out of a boot with
> > instructions on the heel?
>
> ---The Liberals thumpingly lose. I really do hope that you fellows get
> your opposition together before the Liberals go the way of our ruling
> party. It's not that I'm that bothered by living in a conservative
> coun-
> try --- I can handle that. In fact, at times I even like it, being a
> con-
> trarian type. (And liking both guns and country music.) It's the

I had a sneaking suspicion you were a decent human being ;) Anyhow I
thank Billy Currington everytime I sing his song and reap the benefits
thereof.

So as an aside how exactly does Canada get a more credible opposition
party?

Perhaps Conservatives get a charismatic leader after 18+ years in the
minority and a radical revamp.

Dave Kohlhoff

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 17, 2005, 7:45:21 AM12/17/05
to
In article <1134814970.0...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>,

<Davi...@missouristate.edu> wrote:
>
>So as an aside how exactly does Canada get a more credible opposition
>party?
>
>Perhaps Conservatives get a charismatic leader after 18+ years in the
>minority and a radical revamp.
>
It's more the radical revamp that they need. It's kind of
hard to believe CPC claims that they are not planning on dialing
social programs back to the 1920 when their current leader made
a speech denigrating Canada on the basis of the current social
programs and it was hard to believe that they'd avoid inflicting
the sort of willful ignorance on us that is so much more a
fundamental part of US culture when they elect a frickin' Ally
Oop-style _Creationist_ as party leader.

Davi...@missouristate.edu

unread,
Dec 17, 2005, 11:57:59 PM12/17/05
to
James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <1134814970.0...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>,
> <Davi...@missouristate.edu> wrote:
> >
> >So as an aside how exactly does Canada get a more credible opposition
> >party?
> >
> >Perhaps Conservatives get a charismatic leader after 18+ years in the
> >minority and a radical revamp.
> >
> It's more the radical revamp that they need. It's kind of
> hard to believe CPC claims that they are not planning on dialing
> social programs back to the 1920 when their current leader made
> a speech denigrating Canada on the basis of the current social
> programs and it was hard to believe that they'd avoid inflicting
> the sort of willful ignorance on us that is so much more a
> fundamental part of US culture when they elect a frickin' Ally
> Oop-style _Creationist_ as party leader.
>

Well absent not being too American what exactly do the Conservatives
need to do to win a majority?

I suppose you would favor the Conservatives removing all the social
issues their party differs with the Grits on?

I'm not sure that helps though. That may just push the right Tories
into third parties and not bring many rightwards Grits in.

I suspect that the Conservatives are in a worse place to be than people
know. What if (Anglophone) Canada has an unequal bimodal political
distribution. There will always be a conservative party with 30-40% of
the vote derived mostly from Western Canada and there will always be
an assortment of center-left parties and left parties with 60% of the
anglophone vote. This means that very isn't enough 'room' for two
left-wing parties to be competitive but the right-wing is too weak to
ever form a government. Add in Quebec and you have a system where there
are two possible states of government Liberal majority government and
Liberal minority government.

So am I being too pessimistic or is there actually a winning strategy
for the Tories in the election after this one?

Another question does the current political situation actually trouble
average Canadians or does talk like "I really wish we had a credible
opposition party" just serve as a backhanded insult to the Western
(opps I meant Tory) Party?

David Kohlhoff

Mark Edelstein

unread,
Dec 18, 2005, 8:52:04 AM12/18/05
to

> I suspect that the Conservatives are in a worse place to be than people
> know. What if (Anglophone) Canada has an unequal bimodal political
> distribution. There will always be a conservative party with 30-40% of
> the vote derived mostly from Western Canada and there will always be
> an assortment of center-left parties and left parties with 60% of the
> anglophone vote. This means that very isn't enough 'room' for two
> left-wing parties to be competitive but the right-wing is too weak to
> ever form a government. Add in Quebec and you have a system where there
> are two possible states of government Liberal majority government and
> Liberal minority government.
>
> So am I being too pessimistic or is there actually a winning strategy
> for the Tories in the election after this one?
>
> Another question does the current political situation actually trouble
> average Canadians or does talk like "I really wish we had a credible
> opposition party" just serve as a backhanded insult to the Western
> (opps I meant Tory) Party?

Become libertarian confederalists and win over Quebec. Added bonus-
reform the electoral system, become focused on giving urban areas more
autonomy (to allow the market to function!) and shaft over the no
longer hideously over-represented rural regions.
>
> David Kohlhoff

KM

unread,
Dec 18, 2005, 11:09:38 AM12/18/05
to

Davi...@missouristate.edu wrote:
> Well absent not being too American what exactly do the Conservatives
> need to do to win a majority?

Generally, an opposition party needs two conditions in its favour to
get itself into government. The Conservatives have the first, but not
the second:

- The governing party has to be old and tired, or actively
self-destructing

- The opposition party has to have an amiable (or at the very least,
unthreatening) figure at its helm.

If they had a more likeable figure than the cold and aloof Stephen
Harper at the helm, they would be assured a solid minority at least.

Another thing they need to do is to emphasize that the only changes
that will take place will be the ones that are backed by a broad
consensus, and to be as pleasantly bland as possible. This strategy has
worked well at the provincial level for premiers like Lorne Calvert
(Sask.), Gary Doer (Man.), Bernard Lord (N.B.), John Hamm (N.S.) and
Pat Binns (P.E.I.). By comparison, those that genuinely tried to make
widespread changes, like Gordon Campbell (B.C.) and Mike Harris
(ex-Ont.), either lost their enthusiasm or completely burned out.

> I suppose you would favor the Conservatives removing all the social
> issues their party differs with the Grits on?

I would. Those are low-yield issues for them. The people who feel most
strongly about issues like abortion or gay rights are either a captive
market for the Tories or have almost no hope of ever being wooed over
to them.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 18, 2005, 11:18:58 AM12/18/05
to
In article <1134881879.7...@g47g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

<Davi...@missouristate.edu> wrote:
>
>I suspect that the Conservatives are in a worse place to be than people
>know. What if (Anglophone) Canada has an unequal bimodal political
>distribution. There will always be a conservative party with 30-40% of
>the vote derived mostly from Western Canada

Actually, Ontarians are a fairly conservative bunch. The PCs
enjoyed a reign that lasted from the days of Mary Pickford to the
1980s, broken only by the monumental incompetence of Frank Miller
in 1985. They got back in in the 1990s and only lost to the Liberals
because the corpses were beginning to pile up. It's not at all clear
that some kinder, gentler version of the Ontario PCs (one with fewer
dead natives and poisoned water supplies as part of their core values)
will not retake control in 2008.

The Federal Conservatives don't seem to be able to tap into
that Ontario conservativism for some reason.

Mark Edelstein

unread,
Dec 18, 2005, 11:21:43 PM12/18/05
to
\
> Actually, Ontarians are a fairly conservative bunch. The PCs
> enjoyed a reign that lasted from the days of Mary Pickford to the
> 1980s, broken only by the monumental incompetence of Frank Miller
> in 1985. They got back in in the 1990s and only lost to the Liberals
> because the corpses were beginning to pile up. It's not at all clear
> that some kinder, gentler version of the Ontario PCs (one with fewer
> dead natives and poisoned water supplies as part of their core values)
> will not retake control in 2008.
>
> The Federal Conservatives don't seem to be able to tap into
> that Ontario conservativism for some reason.
>

Ah but the "Tory touch" of us loyalists and Alberta's rather different
Prairie populist conservatism is not quite the same. Not that Mr.
Lougheed couldn't spend with the best of them, but the ideological
basis of the two are rather different. Comparing Provincial and Federal
trends is always perilous (see B.C, politics of).

But I suppose you have a point-the Liberals can create odd patchwork
coalitions, so why can't the Conservatives make one as effective? In
their defense there only seems to be room for one natural governing
party at a time in Canada, and the Conservatives haven't been it
nationally since the 1890s.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 19, 2005, 8:58:55 AM12/19/05
to
In article <1134966103.1...@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
But it used to be that when the stink of Grit corruption
and arrogence got too pungent, the Tories would be in until they
reminded us that "inept" is worse than "crooked". That doesn't
seem to happen anymore*. The Reformatories are actually _worse_
at campaigning than the Tories were. Lord only knows how badly
they suck at running things.

ObFuture: They win in January and turn out to be _even worse_ at
running governments than they were at running for them. The
CPC falls into shadow, leaving the Liberals, the Bloc and the
NDP. Do we see another new conservative party or does that side
of the equation just give up?

James Nicoll

* Ok, there's the King-Meighen thing. Poor Meighen.

Mark Edelstein

unread,
Dec 19, 2005, 9:35:16 AM12/19/05
to
But it used to be that when the stink of Grit corruption
> and arrogence got too pungent, the Tories would be in until they
> reminded us that "inept" is worse than "crooked". That doesn't
> seem to happen anymore*. The Reformatories are actually _worse_
> at campaigning than the Tories were. Lord only knows how badly
> they suck at running things.
>
> ObFuture: They win in January and turn out to be _even worse_ at
> running governments than they were at running for them. The
> CPC falls into shadow, leaving the Liberals, the Bloc and the
> NDP. Do we see another new conservative party or does that side
> of the equation just give up?
>
> James Nicoll

I doubt it. Just as the Liberals have a 25% or so core, the
Conservatives of some stripe must have a 15%-20% core vote, and that
will express itself in some form of party (albeit not always
"Conservative").


>
> * Ok, there's the King-Meighen thing. Poor Meighen.

So true. But King was a smooth even if he was nuts.

KM

unread,
Dec 19, 2005, 1:53:10 PM12/19/05
to

James Nicoll wrote:
> ObFuture: They win in January and turn out to be _even worse_ at
> running governments than they were at running for them. The
> CPC falls into shadow, leaving the Liberals, the Bloc and the
> NDP. Do we see another new conservative party or does that side
> of the equation just give up?

There will always be a core conservative vote strong enough to ensure a
half-decent right-of-centre delegation in Parliament as long as the Red
Tories and neo-cons/populists don't part ways as they did in 1993. I
think they learned their lesson -- that neither group is going to
totally annihilate the other, and that civil warfare between the
ideologues and the pragmatists guarantees Liberal victories.

Even under a worst-case-scanario, a Tory government gone wrong would be
unlikely to suffer a worse fate than did the truly awful R. B. Bennett
government in 1935, a crushing defeat that sent the Tories to the
opposition benches for the next 22 years and Bennett into self-imposed
exile in the U.K. from which he never returned, but which the Tories
survived.

William P. Baird

unread,
Dec 21, 2005, 6:45:48 PM12/21/05
to
Sorry that I didn't reply earlier Isaac. Got caught up in a possibly
sick baby. I'm afraid that Avrora trumps Usenet.

Gack, this message has been sitting and being slowly
worked on for a few days now as I have time. My real
apologies. Real life hasn't been cooperating.

IsaacKuo wrote:
> The USAF is biased, because they wants an excuse to put
> lasers on aircraft instead of on ships or ground
> installations. Still, what they say is true...

Of course they're biased. So are we, frankly. Biases are inherent.

That said, they do have a point.

> This assumes relaying mirrors which are very far from
> the laser generator, rather than an objective mirror
> which happens to be a bit further away from the laser.

Pulsed lasers, at least, have extermely finicky beams.
I'd recommend a lit search. The briefings that I was in
were not classified, but I am unsure as to their current
status. I've been out of the death ray business for 4 1/2
years now. I traded it for working on helping welcome
our future computationally superior overlords.

> Atmospheric variations between the laser generator and
> the far-away relay mirror are the most that the optics
> can deal with.

But then there are a host of issues with the relay mirror.
You recognize that for the USAF position.

> Of course, for ABL, a "relay mirror" 50m away from the
> laser generating aircraft is pointless.

That is EXACTLY the point. 50m in a very controlled
beam line is rather different than out above the battlefield.

The relay mirrors of almost any battlefield are going to be
much farther away than 50m. They will be an order of
magnitude further or more, frankly. First rate combatants are
likely to be fighting across areas that are over 100 km for a
single 'battle'.

> To me, the definition of "mortar" is a gun which fires
> upward at an angle greater than 45 degrees. In this
> case, it fires a disposable mirror a relatively short
> distance upward and away from the target. Over such
> short distances, there's no problem with a secure data
> link. There's no particular reason adaptive optics
> would be required, over short distances.

That's just it. The 'disposable' mirror is no longer such.
You've effectively negated one of the chief advantages
of using a laser: it's cheap on a per shot basis. For a
solid state eletrically driven laser like the SSHCL @LLNL
and HELSTF, its ubercheap. An M-1 tank engine puts out
something like 1.5 MW. Enough for constantly firing a
MW class laser. Your cost per shot is damned, damned
low. Far lower than the cost of artillery rounds (smart rounds
for that are on the order of $30k-$40k/shot). Your mirror is
going to be of a material that is reflective to mid IR lasers
(not cheap), able to survive being fired out of a tube (definitely
not cheap even for a low velocity mortar system), using data
links of hardened milspec eletronics (DEFINITELY not cheap)
that also need to able to survive being shot out of a 'mortar'
and it also needs to be somewhat pointable at targets. You
add that all together and you're talking a minimum of $100k
per 'disposable' mirror (prolly a lot more, those mirrors are
fscking expensive and hadening them enough to fire them out
of a mortar makes them a /lot/ more so). It will prolly be
usable for a mere tens of seconds (being generous 30s) and
that means thirty shots at most. That's $3k/shot added.
Minimum. Prolly a lot more.

> In contrast, "frisbee mirrors" might be able to glide
> in behind cover, and then pop up just before being used
> to attack.

That makes their design even more complex and even
more expensive. You're now talking about something
that's carried as a round in a 'mortar', 'flies' like a frisbee,
acts as a laser mirror, and still provides beam quality.

um.

Not in my life time.

A UAV, perhaps, but that's gonna be toast in a ubiquitous
HEL environment too.

> Who mentioned balloons? They aren't used much on today's
> battlefield, lasers or not.

Blue beanies did in their design suggestions for laser relays.
Not you or I. I brought it up just because I am perplexed by
the idea.

> The energy doesn't just magically bounce off human flesh
> and clothes. Why would they be magically more dangerous
> to aircraft? Because water has so much more heat capacity
> than aluminum?

Why is a microwave a crummy way to boil water?

The reason is that certain wavelengths transfer energy to certain
materials better than others. You should know this from just
discussions about blue-green lasers and water on rasfs.

Mid IR isn't so good on water filled targets. However, as I'll
acknowledge later, 1 kw/mm^2 is pretty damned good. Its
far better than what we do now. Period. for pulsed lasers.
We'll get to that.

> To a rough approximation, it takes maybe four times the
> "oomph" to deal with aircraft as it does to deal with
> humans.

Hopefully, I can state this without making an ass of myself.
When dealing with DEWs, the target material and its properties
with regards to thermodynamics and its light related properties
(reflectivity, absorption, conductivity, etc.) are very important.
Flesh has very different properties than the materials sufficient
for protecting the innards of an aircraft. Boiling water with a
laser is not fun nor easy compared to cutting through metal.

> A common anti-human weapon is a 7.62mm machinegun.
> A 7.62mm NATO round is able to reliably cause casualties
> even against most body armor.

Aside, and an honest question, does that hold true anymore?
The new body armor seems to be working damned well in
Iraq. My brother owes his life to it multiple times with regards
to both AK fire and edged weapons.

> With a continuous laser.

Yup. A CW laser.

> What was the lasing spot size?

Y'know, I kept trying to remember. I should email and ask.
The beam impressions they give away for MIRACL when you
leave HELSTF are about 10 cm in diameter. I really need a
picture or to go back to HELSTF to see the block again to see.
For that matter, I really ought to check the depth of the
penetration.

For the moment, let's assume that MW Class laser literally
means 1 MW[1]. With a spot size of 7850 mm^2, we're way,
way below the energy concentration that John posits
necessary (3.6 kw/mm^2 vs 100 kw/mm^2) to get the same
effect as his pulsed laser handgun.

PLVTS[2] is a pulsed CO2 laser at HELSTF. Its beam is
1.2 kj/pulse and has a beam of 1000 mm^2. That gives us
a 1.2 j/mm^2. I'll see if I can get ahold of the PI on that, but
IIIRC, Steve still didn't get the penetration that John was
talking about. Then again, that might be a wavelength issue
too.

After all, the lightcraft project didn't have their sub mini
prototype vaporize after all[2].

> John Schilling assumes a spot size of about 1mm
> across, and also assumes a pulse laser. A pulse
> laser could produce damage far more efficiently
> than a continuous laser.

That's just it. It /could/.

FWIW, it seems that while I was searching for a good public
citation of laser damage on people, it seems that some lasers
for skin removal operate at 1 J/pulse for up to 12 pulses/sec
with a penetration of ~50-60 micrometers. They talk about
multiple passes, but don't talk about how long a pass lingers
over a particular patch of skin[3].

A very interesting article on the subject is:

http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3037.htm

Note, they state the different absorptions for different
wavelengths. MidIR wavelengths, which can pass
through CO2 and useful for laser weapons, are not
covered though and their rate of energy transfer is
not discussed. All that I can offer there is the
ancedotal comments from my former eye doctor.
Poor evidence, I know.

Metal, aircraft composites, and flesh have rather different
thermal characteristics. That's why the current CW lasers
are effective against the former two.

damnit, I've gotta run and I want to get at least this out, so
this is a "To Be Continued".

Will

1. MIRACL's actual beam power is classified and I cannot discuss
it. I am giving an assumption based on what they tell everyone
who asks - It's a megawatt class laser - and turning that into a
literally 1 MW laser for discussion purposes.

2. http://www.lightcrafttechnologies.com/

3. http://www.emedicine.com/ent/topic92.htm

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