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posted by Dopefish on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the shoop-da-woop dept.

Sir Garlon writes:

"According to the Associated Press, the US Navy has announced plans to actually deploy an operational laser weapon aboard the USS Ponce later this year.

The solid-state laser weapon system is designed to target what the Navy describes as 'asymmetrical threats.' Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.

'It fundamentally changes the way we fight,' said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command."

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:39AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:39AM (#2319)

    They actually name ships the Ponce [soylentnews.org]?

    Perhaps a long time ago... or wikipedia is out of date:

    USS Ponce (SP-364), a boat or ship the United States Navy at least considered for service during World War I but for which no records have been found

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by basicbasicbasic on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:53AM

      by basicbasicbasic (411) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:53AM (#2321)

      The article calls it "a floating staging base", rather than a warship, but still... https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ponce [google.co.uk]

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Darth Turbogeek on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:56AM

      by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:56AM (#2322)

      Yeah, it looks liek it's legit - there's some other stories that line up and a few other Wiki entries as well for the ship in question.

      To be honest, I thought this was some sort of a joke, but no it appears real. Kinda cool we now have actual in field laser weapons and disappointing as there are so many better things to be doing with the money spent.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:47AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:47AM (#2346)

        I am still waiting with baited breath for the vaunted "rods from god"

        The US spends far too much on offence

        • (Score: 0, Troll) by mcgrew on Wednesday February 19 2014, @06:30PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @06:30PM (#2701) Homepage Journal

          I am still waiting with baited breath for the vaunted "rods from god"

          Eww, you eat fish bait? Brush your teeth!

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 1) by mcgrew on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:01PM

            by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:01PM (#3664) Homepage Journal

            LOL, the moderator apparently didn't realize I was poking fun at the GP's lack of written communication skills; he obviously meant "I am still waiting with bated breath."

            THAT is one of the things I came here from slashdot for; as bad as beta is, the uneducated barely literate normals at slashdot are just too annoying, and I've seen little of that stupidity here.

            Some people are completely humorless (and I'm completely offtopic, nobody can accuse me of being a karma whore).

            --
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    • (Score: 5, Informative) by combatserver on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:41AM

      by combatserver (38) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:41AM (#2342)

      I think this is the article at wikipedia you were looking for...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Ponce_(LPD-15) [wikipedia.org]

      Long and busy history, although she looks like she could use a new coat of paint. Unfortunately, announcing her new capabilities just made her a high-value target.

      --
      I hope I can change this later...
      • (Score: 1) by shadov on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:15PM

        by shadov (296) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:15PM (#2509)

        Unfortunately, announcing her new capabilities just made her a high-value target.

        Hardly. Firstly, the laser weapon doesn't seem to be that capable compared to other air defense weapons used by the US navy. Its main selling point is that the "ammunition" is dirt cheap. Secondly, there isn't likely much to be gained from sinking Ponce. The navy could just install the weapon on another ship and carry on with the program. It is designed to be easily installed AFAIK, just bolt in to the deck and connect electricity, cooling water, etc.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by geb on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:54AM

      by geb (529) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:54AM (#2349)

      The US military used to mock the UK Royal Air Force for operating patrol aircraft called Nimrods. We then took the piss out of them for having a ship called Ponce. Mutual incomprehension ensued, with neither side really understanding why the other was laughing at them.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by drgibbon on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:11PM

      by drgibbon (74) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:11PM (#2508) Journal

      The definition for ponce in the OED is;

      ponce, n. slang.

      a. One who lives off a prostitute's earnings; a prostitute's protector; a pimp.
      b. A male homosexual; a lazy or effeminate man. Also as a vague term of abuse.

      Hmm.

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      • (Score: 2, Funny) by mhajicek on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:28PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:28PM (#2569)

        I now better understand Spike in Buffy...

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mrbluze on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:04AM

    by mrbluze (49) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:04AM (#2327) Journal

    The Soviets [aps.org] tracked the space shuttle Challenger with a laser. This incident was later implicated in the space shuttle's demise:

    "However a search of NASA’s historical archives turned up several instance in the late 1970s and 1980s where satellites and even the Space Shuttle were tracked by Soviet ground based lasers."

    --
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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by J.J. Dane on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:04AM

    by J.J. Dane (402) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:04AM (#2328)

    Those will never fit on a shark...

    • (Score: 1) by BsAtHome on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:52AM

      by BsAtHome (889) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:52AM (#2348)

      That would so totally depend on the shark.
      It is never too late to find a bigger species, or, alternatively, evolution may produce a suitable carrier.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by tastech on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:42AM

    by tastech (251) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:42AM (#2343)

    I read an article on this laser a few days ago, no real mention of the technology behind it. I would have assumed hydrogen fluoride chemical laser. In the article i read however they mention solid state, and the fact the laser can fire constantly if power is available. This makes me think they may have developed a megawatt range solid state laser diode. That would be a move in the right direction.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by MrGuy on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:52PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:52PM (#2385)

      Think you're reading too much into the way they use the word "continuously."

      From TFA:
      "The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
      For the Navy, it's not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out."

      It reads to me like the intended use of "continuously" is "doesn't require ammo, so you're never out of lasers," not "can turn it on and keep it on continuously for a long period of time." There are references later in the article to the cost "per shot" on the laser that backs this up.

      Can't comment on what that means for your assessment of the laser's internal tech - you seem to know more than I do.

      By the way, seems like the reporter doesn't know how a railgun works based on that second paragraph - unlike a laser, a railgun most definitely needs some kind of ammo to fire, and will most certainly "eventually run out" just like missiles and bombs. You can maybe fire cheaper ammo, but it ain't free (and for what I'm assuming is an extremely high velocity round, you need something properly weighted and carefully machined for aerodynamics.

      Oh, and also, I'd be more impressed by the "railguns are cheaper!" argument if they've solved the problem of having a railgun that can fire somewhat frequently without tearing itself apart and requiring extensive maintenance.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by randmcnatt on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:21PM

      by randmcnatt (671) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:21PM (#2625)
      Probably some variation of the Shiva system [wikipedia.org] using a small laser pulse passed through multiple neodymium glass amplifiers. That could provide the strength as well as the infrared needed to punch through mist and fog.
      --
      The Wright brothers were not the first to fly: they were the first to land.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:24PM (#2369)

    How many of the sailors will suffer eye damage from reflections, or even looking at the laser assembly just to see it in operation? Humans are curious creatures and will want to 'take a peek'.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by damnbunni on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:37PM

      by damnbunni (704) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:37PM (#2376) Journal

      That's why lasers have that warning label: 'Do not look into beam with remaining eye.'

    • (Score: 0, Redundant) by calmond on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:19PM

      by calmond (1826) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:19PM (#2417)

      The warning on the laser should prevent that. It reads: "Do not look into laser with remaining eye."

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:07PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:07PM (#2504)
      The Navy has a curious way of compelling the behavior of sailors. You might want to check into that.
    • (Score: 1) by takyon on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:20PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:20PM (#2559) Journal

      One per ship?

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by SGT CAPSLOCK on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:19PM

    by SGT CAPSLOCK (118) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:19PM (#2418) Journal

    Is it alright to be a lot more afraid when a military starts using corporate buzzwords to describe the way their weapons are pointed at things?

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:34PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:34PM (#2427)

      An "assymetrical" threat is one in which the US military has an overwhelming technical and training and material advantage over their opponent. In other words, almost everybody they're seriously contemplating fighting. Think "a few bad guys in a speedboat versus a US destroyer".

      Of course, the fact that those few bad guys in a speedboat present no threat whatsoever to the United States itself is irrelevant when discussing this.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JeanCroix on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:11PM

        by JeanCroix (573) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:11PM (#2507)
        The threat isn't a few guys in *a* speedboat, it's a few guys in thirty or forty speedboats. Very similar to the classic X-Wings vs. Death Star scenario - there are too many of them, and they're too small and quick, and get in too close.
        • (Score: 1) by mhajicek on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:31PM

          by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:31PM (#2573)

          No, it's "There's... Too... Many of them!"

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by tsqr on Wednesday February 19 2014, @09:24PM

        by tsqr (1663) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @09:24PM (#2877)

        Of course, the fact that those few bad guys in a speedboat present no threat whatsoever to the United States itself is irrelevant when discussing this.

        In October, 2000, 17 sailors aboard the USS Cole were killed when a small boat loaded with explosives was detonated against its hull while it was tied up in Aden, Yemen. So yeah, a few guys in a speedboat most definitely can pose a rather serious threat.

        • (Score: 1) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:01PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:01PM (#2949)

          So, in the attack on the USS Cole, how many American civilians were at risk? Probably 0. It sucks that some sailors were killed, but risking your life is part of the job description of being in the military.

          How many American sailors would have been killed had the USS Cole not been hanging around Yemen? I doubt the guys in the speedboat had the capability of locating the Cole, much less hurting it, had it been somewhere further away.

          And how does the Cole being in Yemen improve the safety of citizens halfway around the world?

          --
          The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
          • (Score: 1) by tsqr on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:50PM

            by tsqr (1663) on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:50PM (#3520)

            So, in the attack on the USS Cole, how many American civilians were at risk?

            And how does the Cole being in Yemen improve the safety of citizens halfway around the world?

            Thanks for moving the goalposts, from "Americans" to "American civilians". Naval vessels on deployment typically don't carry very many civilians. But that isn't the point. If you're not familiar with the political geography of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, I suggest you consult a map. US naval vessels have long been routinely deployed to this area to protect civilian shipping from piracy (usually from Somalia, which just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen).

            Of course, if you think that sailors losing their lives in attacks is just a part of their jobs, then you probably also think that merchant seamen shouldn't complain about being attacked by pirates, as it's just part of the job. And should you ever be mugged, you can draw comfort from the fact that it's just part of city life.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:54PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:54PM (#2492) Journal

      A lot of it is butch marketing speak. People in government and employed by contractors to the government, who don't have military backgrounds or training per se, love to sling it around. It makes them feel tougher. I've heard it from aides to President Clinton who've never fired a shot in their lives, and from people at the CIA who's greatest thrill is to get back an intelligence briefing they wrote for the President with an "A" grade written on the top by the big man. It evens bleeds through to entertainment. Take the Bourne movies--a lot of butch marketing terms and tough guy metaphors thrown around. Or your average FPS US-military themed games. It's inevitable that that sort of language rubs off on the real soldiers, who mostly don't need to talk tough because they are tough. They're too busy training all the time to sit around and think up poetic and fearsome ways to describe what they do.

      --
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      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by mhajicek on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:38PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:38PM (#2578)

        The term "asymmetric warfare" has been around for decades, referring to guerilla warfare, insurgencies, and uprisings.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 1) by tibman on Thursday February 20 2014, @07:46PM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 20 2014, @07:46PM (#3659)

        Asymmetrical in this case is class difference. In naval warfare the biggest ship doesn't win. You can't send an aircraft carrier against a submarine. Some ships are specialized in destroying other classes.

        As far as soldiers go, they think up plenty of colorful ways to describe things. Those terms are seldom accepted by "normal" people as decent names for concepts though.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Statecraftsman on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:17PM

    by Statecraftsman (1149) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:17PM (#2622)

    Is this the military tech of the future? http://www.amazon.com/Krylon-K09033000-Looking-Mir ror-Like-Aerosol/dp/B003971BAY [amazon.com]

  • (Score: 1) by el_oscuro on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:19AM

    by el_oscuro (1711) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:19AM (#2999)

    We know you would need one big assed shark to hook this bad boy up. But what if you hooked it up to a space probe heading towards the sun? If you fired it towards the sun, would it arrive at the sun slightly FTL, since the observer (shooter?) is already travelling towards it? If on the other hand, light travels out at a constant rate regardless of the "shooter", doesn't that mean if you shot it away from the sun, it would travel FTL from the probe? Either way something is travelling FTL from or to something else, or the Space/Time continuum is not merely curved but in fact totally bent.
     

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  • (Score: 1) by unitron on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:17AM

    by unitron (70) on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:17AM (#3112) Journal

    Sharks everywhere eagerly await return to full employment and high paying high-tech jobs.

    But seriously, asymmetric doesn't mean "one side is much bigger", it means the two sides don't have a mirror symmetry to each other, regardless of relative size.

    So symmetric warfare might be each side has a similar sized army, similar sized navy, and similar sized air power.

    Asymmetric could be one side has a few big ships and the other side has a zillion PT boats.

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