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Lasers

Raytheon married-up a 32 kilowatt solid state laser to the Navy’s Phalanx close-in defense system and used it to shoot down four aerial drones off the West coast. Laser Phalanx detected, tracked and shot down all four target drones, Raytheon’s Mike Booen tells DOD Buzz’s Colin Clark. Check in often over at DOD Buzz for frequent Farnborough Air Show updates. Colin’s initial take: a black rain cloud of declining U.S. and European defense budgets has settled over the show.

– Greg Grant

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Headlines were ablaze earlier this month reporting the successful destruction of a ballistic missile by the Airborne Laser (ABL). While certainly a milestone in directed energy weapons development, the military appears not the least bit interested. As my colleague Colin Clark reports, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee today, Air Force chief Gen. Norton Schwartz unequivocally quashed any notion the Air Force would buy the flying vat of chemicals.

“Rep. Michael Turner, ranking member of the HASC strategic forces subcommittee, raised the recent success of the Airborne Laser in shooting a target. He asked if that would lead the Air Force to increase its commitment to directed energy weapons. Schwartz poured a fair amount of cold water on the Boeing program, calling the ABL test “a magnificent technical achievement” but “this does not represent something that is operationally viable.” The future “coin of the realm” is solid state lasers, Schwartz said, not the chemical laser that Boeing built.”

– Greg

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