I had started out writing about military lasers and how they were virtually here and some of the history and implications. Its only about a third done. However, the blogosphere exploded with tons of news on lasers and their status and whatnot. So I am going to scrap that post in favor of a quick run down on on the news and links much like the Robopocalypse Reports.
First off the Russians are doing their classic pull out the old Soviet equipment (or claim to) to try to compete with the American new tech. In this case, they are claiming they are pulling back from museums (or threatening to) old blinding laser tanks. Yup, the USSR built lasers in turrets on T-80 chassis to blind optics and whatnot. Its a larger version of what the US Army developed with the AN/VLQ-7 Stringray laser for the Bradley IFV.
Secondly, the Iranians decided to fire a laser on a US Navy ship and helicopter in the Gulf of Aden. It was low powered and obnoxious rather than damaging. However, it prompted Secretary of the Navy Mabus to tell the US Navy to get its act together and move faster with deploying those lasers they have been developing.
Breaking Defense walks through the status of various laser programs and the battle they face.
The US Air Force has retained some retired C-130U gunships for laser weapon demonstrations. These demos would be for both offensive (attack ground target, etc) and defensive (shoot down incoming antiaircraft missile) weapons. Even for Active Denial System (aka pain ray) tests. Actually the US Special Forces want the ADS specifically for nonlethal options. The USAF has stated they believe lasers will allow more flexibility and capability.
It should be noted the HELLADS laser which is, at report, 150 kw is being tested at WSMR. DARPA has offered the laser to the navy to test on a Burke class destroyer in 2018 and to the US Air Force as well. The goal, which seems to have been met, is to have no more than 5 kg per kilowatt of beam power. A 150 kw HELLADS would weigh 750 kg. A single module, each producing a 75 kw beam, is said to be 130 cm by 30 cm by 50 cm (51.2 inches by 11.8 inches by 19.7 inches). The modules can be aggregated to at least 300 kw or possibly more (as I've said before).
The USNI discusses the Navy's plans for laser - to send a 150 kw laser to sea in 2018 - and its plans for railguns. A manually loaded railgun will be put to sea on a Joint High Speed Vessel next year. The follow-on railgun with the ability to fire 10 rounds per minute will go to sea in 2018. The Navy finished the study on placing a railgun on the last Zumwalt class destroyer. As I have stated before, in the tour de force USS MC Perry class (and here), they really ought to place one on the Independence derived class Small Surface Combatant frigate. The space and the layout just makes sense.
The US Army is beginning to get into the railgun mood (but Jane's hides it well). Their interest is in ballistic missile defense and presumably general air defense since there will be times when the Army's lasers will be degraded by weather.