Thursday, May 18, 2006

point and counter point

I was reading an article in Janes Defence website a month or so ago. It was about a new ballistic missile developed by the Russians. The missile was able to fly in erratic trajectory (a non-ballistic ballistic missile?) It was also armored and silvered. I knew about the clunky airborn laser and the hit a bullet with a bullet interceptor, but I never really thought they were much use in a real environment (blow up the single $2bln 747, 2-3 shots, 50% interceptors missing the target etc. etc.). I thought that the Russians must think the Americans must have something really special. Never really though much about it after that aside from thinking that Russian-American relations are starting to spiral down the tubes but thats a different story (You read pravda lately?).

I found an article '' that describes a solid state laser that fires a 27KW beam for 350 seconds. It shown itself to be capable of shooting down the rockets that the Palistinians keep firing into Israel (guess who is partially funding the project). If thats what they are releasing to the public, what is behind the scenes has got to be revolutionary. The technology probably scales really well to higher power levels, has a very usuable beam duration, and none of the icky problems with chemical lasers.

I am not sure if this is a good thing, but this type of technology has the potential to obsolete non-stealthy ballistic missiles. It will probably only force everyone back to the drawing board to redesign their missiles accordingly. It would also seem that the balance is in favor of the missile for a little while (Just needs thicker armor). Reminds me of the dramatic escalation in thickness of European platemail in response to ever increasing velocities of firearms. In that case the armor makers gave up until kevlar. Point and Counter point.

Things are starting to get a little funny out in the world again. I almost pine for the 80s when the spector of MAD kept every one sane. Even though it was frightening, there was some sense of security knowning that the people behind the trigger were probably pretty rational about the final outcome. I would rather have everyone too scared to attack each other than fight a conventional 'total' war that can only have losers on all sides. Sadly since the nuclear club is growing larger by the year, I guess that this type of technology makes us safer from the insane/irrational of the world.


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