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The Boeing YAL-1 Flying Laser 
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
Posts: 4381
The Boeing YAL-1 Flying Laser is a "megawatt class" chemical fuel laser, developed by the US Air Force, fired from a swivel turret on the front of a modified Boeing 747, with the stated purpose of shooting down Tactical Ballistic Missiles as they are boosting into the atmosphere--ie shortly after they've launched. The laser's functional range goal is something like 600 km; half that against solid fuel missiles. This means that it pretty much would have to orbit over or near hostile launch sites, waiting for them to try launching something it could shoot at.

A megawatt laser is too weak to burn through the missiles; the goal is to weaken the shell of the missile enough that it fails from high speed flight stress. The laser fires in something like five-second bursts, and the 747 carries enough chemical fuel for 20 full power shots. Three smaller lasers are used for tracking.

Apparently this thing has been in development in various ways for over a decade; the military said they just successfully shot down their first test missile with it last night.

Now, the turret-mounted lasers on ships in A* are supposed to be gigawatt lasers--1000 times stronger--but still, this development is interesting, and it's nice to see what a laser turret might actually look like. The YAL-1's nose turret is supposedly "the world's largest turret assembly." Here it is from below

image from the US Air Force (source)

and pointed right at us from the side

image from the US military (source)

Looks like the lens is about as tall as a person, if that flight door is anything to go by. The full plane:

image from the US military (source)

Gratuitous shot showing off the laser systems under development:

image from the US Air Force (source)

Don't burn your finger off, goggle man! 8o

Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:06 am
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