Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Defence bill allows $6.8 billion for 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters

The defense bill is the last of 12 annual spending bills that Congress must pass for the budget year that began Oct. 1. The bill passed the House on Wednesday by 395-34. Senate inaction, while not likely, could force the Pentagon to shut down programs.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged immediate passage because the latest stopgap measure to fund the Pentagon expired at midnight Friday. "Passage today will provide important support for our foreign policy and national security priorities and ensure continuity of funding for our troops in combat and for all of the Department of Defense," they said.

The bill contains $104 billion for weapons procurement. It has $6.8 billion for 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters while providing $465 million to develop an alternative engine for that plane.

And, of course Israel already has 25 F-35's on order, but will install their own electromagnetic technology. Hmm...G:

Aviation Week & Space Technology

"Can you bring a gunship to Kirtland?"

22 May 2006

That's how Rudy Martinez got involved in laser weapons. Martinez, then an operations officer, got permission to fly an AC-130 to Kirtland AFB, N.M., where the man who called showed him a classified weapon that would, he said, "revolutionize the gunship": a chemical laser. The laser was as big as the plane, Martinez recalls.

The caller was one of the inventors of the chemical oxygen-iodine laser, and the year was 1977. Today, Martinez is a deputy branch chief at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate, and runs a simulation center that demonstrates directed-energy and laser weapons on tactical aircraft. While the chemical laser is still not deployed, Martinez remains a proponent of directed energy.


Northrop Grumman, working at its Space Technology Sector in Redondo Beach, Calif., combined multiple low-power beams to form one powerful laser. The design uses a yttrium-aluminum garnet as the lasing material and combines it with a master oscillating power amplifier, which takes a low-power beam and amplifies it in stages. Beam combining allows Northrop Grumman to scale up power. For the second phase of the program, Northrop Grumman assembled two laser chains consisting of four gain modules, each on 5 X 12-ft. optical benches.

"I think you'll see a solid-state laser on some version of a fighter aircraft," remarks Martinez at the Air Force Research Laboratory. But he adds that solid-state lasers may be just a "stepping-stone" to a tactical laser capable of being outfitted on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. "Fiber lasers, I believe, are the future," he says, noting their potential to reduce size significantly over current lasers

By David Crane

September 7, 2008

Laser warfare may be closer than we think. Danger Room and Gizmodo both report that Northrop Grumman is promising the U.S. military that it will have working, deployable weapons-grade solid-state, electric lasers (tactical lasers) ready to go by the end of 2008. Solid-state electric lasers have been making progress under DoD’s Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) project. However, as enticing as the idea of flash-cooking enemy soldiers may be, we’ve still got a little ways to go via solid-state electric tactical laser power output and efficiency.

So, what’s the power threshold? 100 kilowatts (100 kW), and Northrop promises it can hit that mark. That’s apparently the magic number for knocking enemy mortars and rockets out of the sky. Northrop’s solution is a…

Death-Star-style laser configuration where multiple small lasers are combined to create a relatively large, powerful 100kW "laser chain" beam. The company’s latest publicly-disclosed achievement is a 30 kW laser beam that ran for 5+ minutes continually and 40+ minutes total, and achieved electrical-to-optical efficiency of greater than 19%. Bob Bishop, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, recently made the following statement to Defense Daily: "We are completely confident we will meet the 100 kW of power level and associated beam quality and runtime requirements of the JHPSSL Phase 3 program by the end of December, 2008."

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