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United States Hardware

Truck-Mounted Laser Guns 370

bl8n8r writes "Boeing has announced a contract with the US Army to develop laser cannons that are to be mounted atop 20-ton trucks for the purpose of shooting down incoming artillery, rockets, mortars, or bombs. The High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator project actually shoots stuff instead of just painting a mark on a target for other armament to hit."
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Truck-Mounted Laser Guns

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  • by UncleWilly ( 1128141 ) * <.UncleWilly07. .at.> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:33PM (#19974965)
    to be an American

    Next put them in C-130s, or Jeeps, like Rat Patrol.
    • With the current admin, we are much more likely to put them in a high quality Chery truck (made by china and to be sold shortly by Chrysler).
      • Dude... (Score:4, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:49PM (#19975213)
        After the war, torture, Gitmo, NSA's unwarranted wiretapping and all the other crap that has made me ashamed to be an American, I'm glad that we can even for one brief moment have something cool like this.

        Yeah, sure, we'll probably sad when they end up used to blind baby seals or to violate the Geneva convention (again), but quit ruining the moment, dammit. You made me misread "cherry truck" as "Cheney truck" and I was afraid I'd get zapped in the face by it.
        • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *
          You made me misread "cherry truck" as "Cheney truck" and I was afraid I'd get zapped in the face by it.

          I'm a Republican and I found that statement friggin hilarious! Good job!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          a propos being zapped in the face by cheney: [] (in case you don't already know it)
        • After the war, torture, Gitmo, NSA's unwarranted wiretapping and all the other crap that has made me ashamed to be an American, I'm glad that we can even for one brief moment have something cool like this.

          This is cool? The thing wont even fit on a sharks head... unless the US Army has managed to clone a Megalodon from DNA salvaged from a fossilized tooth or some such artifact in which case they have really pissed off the Navy. The Army should have gone for cloning T-Rexes. Now imagine that, a whole regiment of T-Rexes with lasers on their heads, that would convince those Iraqi insurgents to behave in no time flat. It just goes to show what a mess the Pentagon is still in even though Rumsfeld is long gone.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I want five megawatts by mid-may.
  • by AragornSonOfArathorn ( 454526 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:36PM (#19975007)
    Yesterday: 747-mounted laser.
    Today: Truck-mounted laser.
    Tomorrow: Shark-mounted laser.
    • by zamboni1138 ( 308944 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:49PM (#19975215)
      They're still working on the 747-mounted laser [].
    • by guisar ( 69737 )
      This will come in really handy among the hills of Afghanistan and the narrow streets of Bagdhad. Imagine being able to pinpoint terrorists, find weapon caches and occupy territory with these weapons- why they are just as useful in these scenarios as they are against the imaginary massive army of mechanized forces for which they might have been of some use. Just the thing to run up the deficit and a great trade off compared to say, more active duty end strength or veteran education programs.
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:18PM (#19975595)
        I'm guess you're being sarcastic, but taking out incoming mortar, artillery, and rockets really would be a boon in most forseeable conflicts including Iraq. For instance []: "BAGHDAD, July 10 -- More than two dozen mortar shells pounded the Green Zone on Tuesday, killing three people, including a U.S. military member, and injuring 18, among them five Americans, U.S. officials said."
        • How does a laser take out a mortar round? I guess perhaps if it's one of those astroid exploding lasers that they have in the movies . . . but here in reality how does that work? Is it an anti-gravity laser?
          • by jcr ( 53032 )
            How does a laser take out a mortar round?

            By overheating it and detonating it in the air.


            • by sconeu ( 64226 )
              Plus, slagging it tends to deform it and reduce it's aerodynamics badly.

              C-RAM (Counter Rocket/Artillery/Mortar) is a great thing for the guy in the field.

              And to the guy who talked about blinding baby seals, you don't have to worry about that. If this thing would hit you with a strike that would blind you, you'd be dead anyways with a coagulated brain.
            • What happens when a laser hits something really shiny? Does it bounce off and heat up something else?

              Is this a case of billions of investment being defeated by a rag and a can of polish?

          • by Amouth ( 879122 )
            the idea is to pump so much energy in it via light energy that it heats up and either causes the internal explosives to detonate in the air so that it isn't a threat or to cause the shell to heat up to the point where it fractures and breaks apart and is no longer a threat or to cause the caseing to vaporise and again.. not be a threat

            it isn't that hard to do .. jsut requires extreamly good aim and tracking and a massive power source..
        • I'm no expert on the technology involved, but I'm guessing that if you know that incoming rockets/mortar are in the air with enough time to get the trucks in position and shoot them down with a laser, you also have enough time to get out of the way, and you probably already have a bead on the source of the fire. Any laser-equipped trucks with an actual ability to shoot down incoming missiles and objects will of course become the first target of any such attacks. I'm not saying this tech is useless, but I'
          • I think the idea is more like a land base CIWS Phalanx system.

            The CIWS has two radars that work together to engage targets. The first radar is the search radar, located inside the radome on the weapon control group (top of the white painted portion). The search subsystem provides bearing, range, velocity, heading, and altitude information of potential targets to the CIWS computer. This information is analyzed to determine whether the detected object should be engaged by the CIWS system. Once the computer id

    • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:17PM (#19975591)

      Yesterday: 747-mounted laser.
      Today: Truck-mounted laser.
      Tomorrow: Shark-mounted laser.

      Tomorrow afternoon: Large tank of water in the back of a truck to carry shark-mounted lasers.

  • by AdmiralAudio ( 990385 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:36PM (#19975009)
    How soon will we see these being mounted on the heads of ill-tempered seabass?
    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:07PM (#19975451) Homepage Journal
      How the hell can the parent be offtopic?

      Dr. Evil: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?
      Number Two: Sea Bass.
      Dr. Evil: [pause] Right.
      Number Two: They're mutated sea bass.
      Dr. Evil: Are they ill tempered?
      Number Two: Absolutely.
      Dr. Evil: Oh well, that's a start.
  • Damnit! (Score:5, Funny)

    by simp ( 25997 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:38PM (#19975053)
    This government is so incompetent!! Bush screwed up. Again...

    Sharks, I wanted sharks. Is that so difficult?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xENoLocO ( 773565 ) *
      Introducing the Bass from GMSea
    • It's part of the mad scientist rules.

      You need to start with the giant man-eating badgers, then you get to build camera mounts for squirrels; only then, do you get to work with the sharks.
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:39PM (#19975069)
    Guns of destruction are bad.

    But the kid in me says...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ArmyOfFun ( 652320 )
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:55PM (#19975311) Homepage
      The kid in me is disappointed that the truck doesn't transform into a humanoid robot with the laser held in its hand like a gun.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:01PM (#19975387) Journal
      The adult in me says ... Guns of destruction are bad.

      No, that's the adolescent in you that says that. It wants to stop killing, hurting, and threatening, and goes after a tool that is capable of such things.

      But once you've had enough time and thought to understand the unintended consequences of the simple "solution" - disarming the law-abiding - you'll reach the adult understanding that self-defense requires force, and that a credible threat of retaliatory force produces a net reduction in killing, hurting, and threatening.

      "Mutual Assured Destruction" works at both the wholesale level (having prevented an all-out nuclear war for over half a century now) and the retail level (convincing crooks they want to leave you alone and either go after an easier victim or find a new line of work.)

      Second-order effects often swamp first-order effects, producing (initially) counter-intuitive results. Part of growing up is learning which situations are like that, and what the useful counter-intuitive solutions are. (To people with less experience this is often mistaken for wisdom, cynicism, or evil.)

      Unfortunately there is a significant fraction of the population that either never DOES grow up or never learns some important lessons about rare, but deadly, situations.
    • Bigger better lasers currently are being driven by the demand curve for blowing things up, but bigger better lasers will be useful later for space propulsion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      Guns that stop bullets good.
      Hey I have no problem with defensive systems like this.
  • Sure... (Score:5, Funny)

    by chaidawg ( 170956 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:42PM (#19975101)
    ...but can it drive a 6 inch spike through a board with its penis?
  • Oblig. CNC (Score:4, Funny)

    by andrewd18 ( 989408 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:43PM (#19975111)

    Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck
    Also known as the predecessor to the Mammoth Tank.
  • Nothing new, we saw this in the C&C: Generals game, when they were mounted on several USA vehicles.
  • power reqs. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:44PM (#19975129)
    I wonder how much power it takes to run and if it can target multiple incoming threats at once. It would be awesome if it could take on say 5 or 8 incoming mortars at the same time. Even better would be knocking out a barrage of RPG's. I guess the final implementation would be zapping bullets out of thin air which at that point you'd have a "shield" like in sci-fi. Military tech amazes me.
    • 1 truck, one laser, one threat at a time. Ability to handle multiple projectiles would be to either have multiple trucks or deal with the attack sequentially. IE it takes 3 seconds to deal with one projectile while the set is targetable for 30.

      Knocking out a barrage of RPG fire is unlikely, RPGs are actually very short ranged, pretty much strickly line of sight, sub 300 meters. There's several different technologies designed to help deal with RPG fire. As for plain bullets, the old technology still work
    • The Laser in the article is a development of the MTHEL project. The purpose of MTHEL is to defend positions against incoming rockets and mortars. One of the test videos actually shows the MTHEL hitting 3 different mortar rounds launched from 3 different positions all traveling through the air at the same time.
  • My analysis (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xeth ( 614132 )

    Pro: Well-paid engineers and scientists are kept in the U.S. at work on neat toy, keeping valuable talent working on a difficult problem.

    Con: Obscenely-paid CEOs who came up with idea to push this useless weapon get a huge payoff, keeping destructive leeches working on the simple problem of continuing corrupt government.

  • by PalmKiller ( 174161 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:48PM (#19975205) Homepage
    rail gun projects? Nooooo...I think rail guns are way cooler, especially when they malfunction.
    • Check out the Phalanx LPWS ... its a Phalanx gun mounted on a flatbed truck ... not exactly a rail gun but pretty spiff. There are some firing videos on YouTube as well...
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:08PM (#19975467) Homepage
      Rail guns are what the navy is going to use to replace cruise missiles (which replaced heavy ship artillery). Lots of advantages there -- about the same range and precision and destructive power as a cruise missile, but at a fraction of the cost. Plus has a huge advantage over both cruise missiles and conventional artillery shells in that the ammunition won't explode if the ship gets hit -- though I imagine the gigantic capacitors needed to fire the gun may blow up if charged up and hit, though that'd only be one shot's worth of energy rather than the ships whole payload. Rail guns have a bright future, as long as they can figure out how to keep the gun from destroying itself every shot.

      Lasers so far are mostly being considered for defensive roles to shoot missiles and artillery down. This is a good role for lasers, since first hitting the target at the speed of light is good when you're trying to hit a small fast moving target, and second because the energy needed to destroy a warhead isn't that large.

      Two awesome future technologies, two roles. It's a good time to be a geek. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by coredog64 ( 1001648 )
        Rail guns are absolutely not a replacement for cruise missiles. A rail gun projectile in ballistic in nature -- if the wind is blowing the wrong way at the target you're SOL. Yes, you can use lasers for terminal guidance but that requires something to paint the target (hard to do when the target is in hostile territory. Being ballistic, it's also vulnerable to the laser defense systems being discussed here. The launch profile for a rail gun also limits the guidance package you can fit. A cruise missile
  • Um, what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spy Hunter ( 317220 )

    The danger isn't just to personnel: during 2005, two RAF Harrier jets were knocked out on the ground when their Kandahar airbase was rocketed.
    You mean not only are they slaughtering our troops, but they might conceivably injure our Harriers? Something must be done immediately!

    Seriously, WTF?
  • MTHEL? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lazarian ( 906722 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:56PM (#19975317)
    Why don't they just work with the already tested MTHEL [] system?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BlueParrot ( 965239 )
      Are you sure it isn't in fact a follow-up to the THEL ? Also, iirc the THEL used deuterium to power its pumping, which could make it rather expensive. The breakthrough will be when they manage to get solid state lasers ( like Neodynium-YAG ) working like this. I imagine the Israelis will be quite interested in buying a few such devices.
      • Reading up on THEL further, it is being developed by Northrop-Grumman and Israeli companies. Boeing may want to develop their own design. The article seemed a "been there, done that" sort of thing, but there's probably lots of reasons for designing an alternate system.

        Pretty impressive technology though.

        • Indeed. As part of my degree I did some suff on lasers, and simply put I am damn impressed they got something like that to work. The number of things that can go wrong preventing such a setup from working are overwhealming. As far as high-tech is concerned this is definately one of those things you could sort of imagine on paper but didn't expect in practice.
    • by lelitsch ( 31136 )
      Or how about using AHEAD []? It actually works, is available now, and is evolutionary technology rather than some pie in the sky project.

      This freaking laser beams on freaking trucks sounds a lot like Northrop's Nautilus [] project which ended in abject failure.
    • First, if you don't know about THEL, see this video. [] Beam weapons aren't a joke any more.

      Mobile THEL was a repackaging of the original fixed THEL system into three semitrailers. It's too bulky to deploy and too vulnerable on the ground. This thing is meant to defend against short-ranged mortars, rockets, and artillery. So it has to be sited up near the sharp end. Something more rugged and more mobile is needed.

      Now that everyone has seen THEL shooting down rockets, artillery projectiles, and mortar

  • Dual use? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lurker2288 ( 995635 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:03PM (#19975417)
    Have any trials been done on using the laser to fill a snide professor's house with popcorn? There could be a big market for this among the college crowd.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here is a youtube link of a prototype system. It can track and destroy more than one target in flight before impact. I know there is a longer version of this video, but I found this one first, you'll get the idea. The longer one shows it engaging artillery shells, rockets, and mortar shells. []

  • Car Wars! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Curate ( 783077 )
    Could this be the first step towards a future of heavily-armoured and -armed cars and trucks, complete with laser cannons and oil slick emittors, like in Steve Jackson's Car Wars game?
  •'s been tried before, a long, long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away...


    Walls buckle and cave in. Troops and equipment are blown in
    all directions. Stormtroopers stagger out of the rubble.
    Standing in the middle of the chaos, a vision of calm and
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by hellfire ( 86129 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:15PM (#19975561) Homepage
    Yay... finally!!!

    Popcorn for everyone!!!
  • Quake 3? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reddragon220 ( 890851 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:25PM (#19975681)
    So the Navy has railguns and the Army now has lasers - the Air force better get quad-damage or else they're going to get pwned.
  • Fess up (Score:5, Funny)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:27PM (#19975705)
    The High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator project actually shoots stuff

    Who wrote that summary, George Bush?
  • by alta ( 1263 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:00PM (#19976089) Homepage Journal

    Boeing has developed a new squirrel mounted laser. Lasers have been mounted to squirrels and released on the Iranian border. Unfortunatly the squirrels were all captured by iranian police, but not after they fried their eyes out.

    Cost? $50 million nuts.
  • by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:05PM (#19976163)
    Forget freaking sharks. I want something like this scaled down on top of my car aimed at birds that dare to poop at my car. I want anti-bird defensives that will fry 'em if they dare to do a fly by near my car.
  • dogs (Score:3, Funny)

    by phrostie ( 121428 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:23PM (#19976389)

    i need one of these for the dogs next door.
  • Countermeasures: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @07:50PM (#19977453) Homepage
    Pack a load of 10 shells, 9 chaff, 1 HE.

    First one is intercepted halfway to the laser truck, explodes, deploys chaff on detonation.
    Second one is intercepted halfway between previous interception, and laser truck, because truck's radar was impaired by chaff, second one explodes, deploys chaff on detonation, closer to truck.

    Lather, rinse, repeat, until the radar's range is too short to give the computer enough time to find an intercept solution.

    Cost to attacker: 9, $500 chaff shells, + 1 $2000 HE shell.
    Cost to defender: $50 Million laser + whatever else the attacker decides to shell with impunity next.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      Pack a load of 10 shells, 9 chaff, 1 HE.

      First one is intercepted halfway to the laser truck, explodes, deploys chaff on detonation.
      Second one is intercepted halfway between previous interception, and laser truck, because truck's radar was impaired by chaff, second one explodes, deploys chaff on detonation, closer to truck.

      So you've reduced your rate of fire by 90%, giving me plenty of time to locate, target and destroy your artillery before you can significantly damage my troops. Makes
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Technically, wouldn't that be counter-countermeasures? Sorry to pick nits.

      Seriously though, chaff is usually just a bunch tin foil and other highly reflective materials. None of which would likely stay in the air long enough to make that much difference. Unless you have a lot of mortars or whatever, you might not have a fast enough rate of fire.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell