Germans with frickin’ laser beams…

September 24, 2015
Science fiction becomes reality

Science fiction becomes reality

Looks like we aren’t the only ones with the coolest toys:

During this week’s defense and security expo in London German defense contractor Rheinmetall Defense Electronics unveiled a new sea-based anti-drone laser system.

The system, unveiled at the Defense and Security Equipment Industry Expo in London, features four high energy lasers mounted on turret, making it look like some kind of laser Gatling gun, Popular Mechanics reported.

The four 20 kilowatt lasers fire simultaneously, in a technique known as superimposition which combines them into a single powerful 80 kilowatt beam.

According to the company, using superimposition there’s not limit to the amount of energy that can be focused on a target — just add more lasers.

The Gatling laser can reportedly shoot down a drone at 500 meters. Lasers can also detonate ammunition, explode artillery shells, blind the sensors of another ship, and even burn holes in smaller ships.

Remember when they laughed at Reagan for his “Star Wars” missile defense system that included energy beams? Not only are the Germans working on energy beam weapons (you can bet this will be extended to deal with battlefield rockets), but so are we, the Israelis (Iron Dome), the Russians, undoubtedly the Chinese, and many others. What was scoffed at as the stuff of comic books and science fiction movies just 30 years from now is swiftly becoming reality, and perhaps presaging the end of the “missile age.”

This technology is only going to get better.

But, come on. Who didn’t read “Germans” and “lasers” and immediately think of this (1):

Footnote:
(1) Well, if you’re above a certain age. But, if you haven’t seen Goldfinger, you need to rethink your life choices.


We Have All The Best Toys: laser-cannon edition

September 5, 2014
Science-fiction comes to life

Science-fiction comes to life

(Photo via Wired)

Okay, how cool is this?

Boeing is building a laser cannon for the U.S. Army, and the new weapon has now proved it will be as capable at sea as on land. The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD)—basically a high-energy laser mounted on top of a big truck—was successfully used to blast some UAV drones and 60mm mortars out of the Florida sky earlier this year, Boeing announced Thursday.

This test was done in a windy and foggy environment, an essential step to proving the technology is useful for naval deployment. The HEL MD used a 10-kilowatt laser—a much less powerful version of what it will eventually fire—to “successfully engage” more than 150 targets at Eglin Air Force Base, a Department of Defense weapons testing facility on the Florida Panhandle. In other words, it disabled or destroyed them.

In simple terms, the laser makes an incredibly powerful, highly focused beam of light and aims it at a moving target. Light equals heat, and, after enough heat has been transferred, the target is compromised and crashes or blows up. The Army and Boeing (which landed a $36 million contract for the project) have been working on this for the better part of a decade, par for the course for a next-generation weapons platform.

It’s a preliminary test of course –I doubt the UAVs were taking any evasive action– but the fact that the laser was effective through fog was pretty danged amazing. I can recall engineer friends back in the 80s describing the problem of lasers diffusing through fog and clouds as being insurmountable. Now? Check it off.

Which reminds me, I wonder how many of the people who called Reagan an idiot for pushing missile defense feel like eating some crow these days? The Israelis have already shown the concept works tactically on the battlefield, we demonstrated proof-of-concept with the HEL MD on our own system, and repeated tests over the Pacific show that ballistic missile defense is not at all a “Star Wars” fantasy. Other than Israel’s “Iron Dome,” these systems aren’t usable in battle, yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Like the musket ended the age of armor, energy weapons may well spell the end of the missile age.

The next phase, of course, it to mount laser cannons on giant war robots, thus making Japanese anime a reality.

PS: Video at the link.

PPS: A very good book related to this is Max Boot’s “War Made New,” which covers the evolution of warfare as competing developments in technology and the effects these developments had on strategy and tactics. This is potentially the latest example.

 


Good News! North Korea building missile-launching sub!

August 26, 2014
Hope and Change?

Happy to have a new toy

Because what aspiring nuclear-armed Dear Leader psychopathic God-Dictator doesn’t need his own ballistic-missile firing submarine?

U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korea is building a submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles, potentially increasing the threat posed by the nuclear-armed rogue state.

A missile launch tube on a North Korean submarine was observed recently by U.S. intelligence agencies and is raising new concerns about the missile and nuclear threat from the communist regime in Pyongyang, according to two defense officials familiar with reports of the development.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool declined to comment on the North Korean missile submarine program. “We do not comment on intelligence matters, but we do urge North Korea to become more transparent in their defense sector in order to reduce tensions in the region,” he said in a statement.

Details of the missile submarine remain closely held within the government.

There’s speculation about what type of submarine this is, but the most likely candidates are old Soviet Golf-class boomers (Pyongyang bought about 40 in the 1990s after the USSR’s collapse) or some type of Chinese sub. And they’re reported to already have a supply of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which were secretly bought from Russia and and some of which were converted to land use.

Either way, this is just cheery news for the regular targets of North Korea’s hysterical bluster, from South Korea to the United States. And not just verbal threats: North Korea probably used a sub to sink the South Korean cruiser Cheonan a few years ago. Adding a nuclear-tipped SLBM capability to their submarine fleet will only increase the headaches for defense planners in the nations around North Korea and in America. And, don’t forget: North Korea has s history of selling nuclear weapons tech to other hostile nations. Going into the submarine business would be a natural extension.

Good thing Obama is cutting funds for missile defense. smiley whew


The US and Israel are big meanies because they won’t share!

August 3, 2014
Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

We’re so selfish

That’s the gist of the complaint from Navi Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, who denounced Israel (and by extension the US) for civilian deaths in Gaza. The original article is behind Haaretz’s subscriber wall, so I’ll quote the Breitbart summary:

Navi Pillay told reporters following yet another “emergency” meeting of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council that Israel was not doing enough to protect civilians. “There is a strong possibility,” said the known Israel critic, “that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”

Among the UN’s long bill of particulars against the beleaguered Jewish state comes the almost unbelievable accusation that Israel’s refusal to share its Iron Dome ballistic missile defense shield with the “governing authority” of Gaza – i.e. Hamas, the terror group created to pursue the extermination of the Jewish state and now waging a terrorist war against it – constitutes a war crime against the civilians of Gaza.

The UN chairwoman criticized the U.S. for helping fund Israel’s Iron Dome system which has saved countless Israeli and Palestinian lives. “No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling,” she said.

Oh, poor little Hamas. They start a war with Israel, firing thousands of rockets with the potential to kill thousands –especially if they had hit that nuclear reactor at Dimona!– and they dig tunnels for offensive operations against civilians, and then when they fight back to destroy those tunnels and successfully defend their people from those rockets, the leftists in the transnational bureaucracy (1) whine that Israel, the nation that got attacked in the first place, has an unfair advantage.

You cannot make this crap up.

Claudia Rosett take Ms. Pillay’s idea about “sharing the weapon-wealth” to its logical, farcical conclusion:

It also seems unfair to limit such sharing to terrorist organizations. The UN is, after all, an institution devoted to upholding and treating equally the rights of all sovereign states. Why not save South Korea from its unfair military edge over North Korea, by demanding that Seoul turn over to Pyongyang enough advanced military technology to even the balance? For the sake of world peace, the U.S. could deliver to China any military secrets China hasn’t stolen already; likewise, give Russia its fair share. And it almost goes without saying that the U.S. and other world powers should stop dickering with Iran over its nuclear program, and just give Tehran the bomb.

Actually, once this redistribution really gets underway, there are quite a number of UN member states, plus an array of terrorist groups, around the globe, which could more safely threaten or attack the world’s developed democracies if only advanced military technology were to be included in the UN roster of aid entitlements. Though, the myriad transfers and accompanying funding could become complex. Maybe it would be more efficient to simply require that all developed democracies turn over all advanced military technology to the UN, along with the requisite cash, to be redistributed to terrorist groups and rogue states as UN human rights officials deem proportionately appropriate. One more step toward the UN dream of a more equitable world.

Fair is fair, after all. To paraphrase President Obama, “At some point, you have enough weapons.”

PS: My philosophy of dealing with dangerous neighboring countries is simple — “We want to live in peace with you. We are happy to buy your stuff and sell you our stuff, something good for us all. But, if you insist on trying to kill my people, I will bring the Wrath of God down on you. That is how I will share my country’s military technology.”

PPS: And if you want an idea of how seriously High Commissioner Pillay’s UN Human Rights Council takes the idea of human rights for all, consider that China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are all members.

Footnote:
(1) Is there a more useless class of people in the world? I’m hard pressed to think of one.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama hates missile defense, except when he’s trying to buy votes

July 30, 2012

Mitt Romney is on an overseas trip to Great Britain, Israel, and Poland. Worried about the Jewish vote at home because of his noted lack of support for Israel and wanting to steal a bit of the limelight from Romney, President Obama signed a bill giving Israel $70,000,000 for their (very promising) Iron Dome short-range missile defense system. What’s notable about that, you ask?

It’s all about the pandering, baby.

via Moe Lane

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


More about the Obama-Medvedev open-mic moment

March 27, 2012

Yesterday, while writing about the president’s inadvertent moment of transparency during his talks with Russian President Medvedev, in which Obama offered that he could be more flexible regarding missile defense after his reelection, I wondered the following:

Or maybe it’s the interests of others? This should make all those former possessions of the Soviet empire feel real secure.

Turns out we didn’t have to wait long to find out the truth in that. A headline in a major Polish tabloid read (translated)

“Were they trading Poland? Puzzling Obama talk with Medvedev about the missile shield.”

You can see the original at Buzzfeed, via Hot Air.

Poland has an unfortunate history of being the meat on the carving board whenever other great powers deal with Russia; Obama’s 2009 sellout over missile defense was only the most recent example. Now with Obama asking for “space” so he can be more flexible later, I don’t blame the Poles nor anyone else in Russia’s “near abroad” for being nervous. I’d be looking for a target on my back, too.

Meanwhile, with yesterday’s “nothing to see here, move along” statements apparently not convincing many people, Obama himself stepped before the cameras (this time knowing the mic was on) to insist he wasn’t hiding anything:

A defensive President Obama said Tuesday he wasn’t guilty of “hiding the ball” when an open microphone caught him pleading with the president of Russia to delay missile shield talks until after this year’s elections.

“The only way I get this stuff done is If I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a nuclear security summit here. “This is not a matter of hiding the ball.”

(…)

“What I said yesterday … is something that I think everyone in this room understands,” the president said. “Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong understanding, both between countries and within countries.”

Shorter Obama: “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying ears?”

Like I wrote yesterday, I understand political difficulties in an election year. But consulting Congress and the Pentagon isn’t what Obama was talking about in his tete-a-tete with Medvedev. He was specifically asking for “space” with the promise that he himself could be more flexible next year regarding Kremlin demands, when he would no longer be accountable to the voters. It wasn’t a simple “let’s wait until next year when US politics are calmer to talk about these things,” it was a plea for Russian help for Obama’s reelection effort. As Andrew Malcom of IBD put it, it was “backstage conniving.”

And lest anyone say this is just Right-wing panic over nothing, consider the president’s record with Russia: the embarrassing reset moment; the horrible deal in 2010 in the latest START treaty; the appeasement over missile defense in 2009 at the cost of betraying allies; and the flaccid reaction to Russian arms sales to Hugo Chavez, an avowed American enemy; the willingness to give up British nuclear secrets. I’m sure there are other moments of Smart Power that illustrate the same point: far from having a clear vision of America’s national interests, Obama is intellectually trapped in an outdated worldview that sees a dominant United States as part of the problem, not the best hope for a peaceful, prosperous world. His foreign policy is dangerous because it is dangerously naive.

That’s why critics don’t trust his whispered sidebar conversations with our traditional enemies: a leftist ideology married to alarming naivete is a recipe for disaster.

And that’s one big reason he has to go in November.

UPDATE: It figures. Democrats are just fine with Obama’s whispered words and approvingly cite President Medvedev (!) to bash Mitt Romney.  But they’ll scream bloody murder when we question their patriotism because of it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The fruits of Smart Power: Czechs walk out on missile defense

June 16, 2011

It may come as a surprise to the Smartest President Ever(tm) and his brilliant foreign policy team, but when you pull the rug out from under an ally in order to appease the guys they fear, they aren’t likely to want to play with you anymore:

The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday.

The Bush administration first proposed stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic, saying the system was aimed at blunting future missile threats from Iran. But Russia angrily objected and warned that it would station its own missiles close to Poland if the plan went through.

In September 2009, the Obama administration shelved that plan and offered a new, reconfigured phased program with an undefined role for the Czechs. In November 2009, the Czech Republic was offered the possibility of hosting a separate early warning system that would gather and analyze information from satellites to detect missiles aimed at NATO territory.

Defense Minister Alexander Vondra told the AP that the Czech Republic wanted to participate but “definitely not in this way.”

“Shelving the plan” is much too antiseptic a description for what really happened. As I wrote at the time:

This is an utter, craven appeasement of Moscow, which has never wanted this system installed in its former empire, making ridiculous claims that it somehow threatened Russia. As originally conceived, the radar stations and roughly a score of interceptor missiles were to protect Europe from a growing Iranian threat. They represented no threat to Moscow. In fact, the Bush administration offered to cooperate in a partnership with the Russians on a European missile shield. Russia’s outrage was in fact a cover for their fear of a continuing loss of influence over their former subject peoples in Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland and the Czech Republic saw this in a similar manner. They cooperated with the US over Afghanistan and Iraq (even sending troops to both places) and agreed to the missile-shield proposal. This was done not just out of a sense of interests shared between fellow democracies, not just out of a sense of worry over Iranian ambitions, but out of a very real geopolitical calculation that closer military ties to the world’s remaining superpower would protect them from a resurgent Russian bear. For the last eight years they have stuck their necks out to help us, and now President Obama has made fools of them.

And Washington expected Prague to accept a consolation prize? Seriously? Why not give them some DVDs, too?

Way back when, Ed Morrissey points out, the Obama Office of the President-Elect (1) transition team promised to “restore our standing in the world.” This is just the latest example of how that’s working out in practice.

The building of alliances and friendships between states is the result of painstaking diplomacy in which each side not only seeks to meet its own best interests, but to assure the other side that such an alliance is in their best interests, too. It’s a mutual exercise in trust-building that includes confidence that one party won’t stick a knife in the other’s back.

And like the husband who comes home to find someone else in his bed, it only takes one betrayal to wreck all that effort. As with Britain, as with Israel, and as with Poland, Obama administration foreign policy seems to be all about pimp-slapping our friends to appease our rivals, going out of its way to betray that trust, as if telling these nations “you won’t leave us; you’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Except the Czech Republic decided otherwise and left. As Team Obama pursues the “Welcome Back Carter” (2) style of diplomacy, don’t be surprised to see other nations decide their best interests are served elsewhere, too.

Footnotes:

(1) I’d forgotten about this bit of egoism.

(2) Glenn Reynolds famously worried that “Jimmy Carter, part two” might be the best-case scenario. I’m worried he’s right. Though, while reading Schweizer’s book “Reagan’s War,” the resemblance between Carter and Obama’s approach to national security is stunning.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)