JED - November 2015 - 80

EW 101

Directed Energy Weapons
- Part 2
Supporting Technology
By Dave Adamy

T

The Journal of Electronic Defense | November 2015

80

here are several technology considerations for
directed energy weapons (DEWs).
*	They must produce enough radiated power to attack
enemy weapons at the required range.
*	They must be mounted on platforms that have
enough prime power to supply the DEW.
*	They must be small and light enough to be carried by those
platforms.
*	The efficiency of the DEW determines the amount of energy
that is converted into heat.
*	The mounting platform must be able to dissipate that heat
quickly enough to allow a high rate of engagement of attacking weapons.
*	There must be an associated acquisition and tacking system
capable of handling the number of targets to be attacked by
the DEW with short enough latency to allow the engagement
of those targets in the required time period.
*	The logistics supporting the DEW must be compatible with
the platforms on which they are mounted.
In this series of articles, we will be covering both high
power lasers and high power microwave weapons. First, we will
cover lasers. This information comes from the same Mark Gunzinger paper quoted last month and from several other papers in
Scientific American and Wikipedia.

TYPES OF LASERS AND THEIR MILITARY APPLICATION
Table 1 shows the types of lasers currently identified with
directed energy weapons. Some are already used in deployed
systems and some require significant technology development
before they will be practical.

Type of Laser

Chemical Laser

Solid State Laser
(SSL)

CHEMICAL LASERS
Chemical lasers use energy from chemical reactions (in their
gas phase) to create excited atoms or ions in a lasing medium
at very low pressures (typically about 0.02 times atmospheric
pressure). These laser systems are very large and heavy. As
shown in Figure 1, they require vacuum pumps and low-pressure reaction chambers. Since their fuel comprises highly toxic
and corrosive chemicals, they require very complex fuel management systems.
The size of chemical lasers is typified by the US Air Force
Airborne Laser (ABL), which uses Chemical Oxygen-Iodine lasers (COIL). This system produces multiple megawatts of beam
power with high efficiency and good beam quality, enough to
destroy ballistic missiles in their launch phase at very long
ranges in a few seconds. However, it is so large that it can only
be carried aloft in the Boeing 747-400, one of the world's largest aircraft. The complete system includes six lasing modules
and weighs more than 90 tons.
The developmental version of this COIL chemical laser was
the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) mounted in a C-130 aircraft,
requiring more than two thirds of its cargo area. Its mission
was the destruction of mobile and stationary ground targets. It
had less than 5 percent of the output energy of the ABL.
These two airborne COIL systems required that the aircraft
land and reload the chemical fuel. Longer ranges to targets
required longer illumination times - hence more laser fuel. The
number of shots that the system could make on a single sortie was limited, and the toxicity and corrosive nature of the
chemical fuel was such that sophisticated support facilities
would be required at forward bases.

Military Application

Current Size
& Weight

Current Radiated
Power

Chemical Oxygen -
Iodine (COIL)

Long range destruction of ballistic missiles in boost 50 m3 1800 kg
phase (hundreds of km)
per module

Deuterium Fluoride (DF)

Protection of ground targets

5 large shipping Hundreds of kilowatts
containers

Watt Class SSLs

Target range finders, Ladars, imagers, target
designators, IR countermeasures

Very small

Few watts

Bulk Lasers

Defense of tactical aircraft against ground threats

Small

Over 100 kilowatts

Fiber Lasers

Aircraft, ship and land based systems

Small

10 kilowatts
(combinable)

Disk Lasers

Aircraft, ship and land based systems

Small

3 to 4 kilowatts

Ship protection

75m x 12.5m

17 kilowatts

Free Electron Laser (FEL)
Table 1: Types of Lasers and their military applications

Megawatts



JED - November 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - November 2015

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
Airborne Electronic Attack for A2AD
52nd Annual AOC International Symposium and Convention Guide
2016 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - November 2015 - cover1
JED - November 2015 - cover2
JED - November 2015 - 3
JED - November 2015 - 4
JED - November 2015 - 5
JED - November 2015 - The View From Here
JED - November 2015 - 7
JED - November 2015 - Conferences Calendar
JED - November 2015 - 9
JED - November 2015 - Courses Calendar
JED - November 2015 - 11
JED - November 2015 - From the President
JED - November 2015 - 13
JED - November 2015 - 14
JED - November 2015 - The Monitor
JED - November 2015 - 16
JED - November 2015 - 17
JED - November 2015 - 18
JED - November 2015 - 19
JED - November 2015 - 20
JED - November 2015 - 21
JED - November 2015 - 22
JED - November 2015 - 23
JED - November 2015 - World Report
JED - November 2015 - 25
JED - November 2015 - Airborne Electronic Attack for A2AD
JED - November 2015 - 27
JED - November 2015 - 28
JED - November 2015 - 29
JED - November 2015 - 30
JED - November 2015 - 31
JED - November 2015 - 32
JED - November 2015 - 33
JED - November 2015 - 34
JED - November 2015 - 35
JED - November 2015 - 36
JED - November 2015 - 37
JED - November 2015 - 38
JED - November 2015 - 39
JED - November 2015 - 40
JED - November 2015 - 52nd Annual AOC International Symposium and Convention Guide
JED - November 2015 - 42
JED - November 2015 - 43
JED - November 2015 - 44
JED - November 2015 - 45
JED - November 2015 - 46
JED - November 2015 - 47
JED - November 2015 - 48
JED - November 2015 - 49
JED - November 2015 - 50
JED - November 2015 - 51
JED - November 2015 - 52
JED - November 2015 - 53
JED - November 2015 - 54
JED - November 2015 - 55
JED - November 2015 - 56
JED - November 2015 - 57
JED - November 2015 - 58
JED - November 2015 - 59
JED - November 2015 - 2016 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
JED - November 2015 - 61
JED - November 2015 - 62
JED - November 2015 - 63
JED - November 2015 - 64
JED - November 2015 - 65
JED - November 2015 - 66
JED - November 2015 - 67
JED - November 2015 - 68
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JED - November 2015 - 73
JED - November 2015 - 74
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JED - November 2015 - 76
JED - November 2015 - 77
JED - November 2015 - 78
JED - November 2015 - 79
JED - November 2015 - EW 101
JED - November 2015 - 81
JED - November 2015 - AOC News
JED - November 2015 - 83
JED - November 2015 - Index of Advertisers
JED - November 2015 - 85
JED - November 2015 - JED Quick Look
JED - November 2015 - cover3
JED - November 2015 - cover4
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