Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ixnay on NG's Skyguard laser

While Northrop Grumman is hoping the recent Hezbollah missile attacks on Israel will create interest in its Skyguard chemically powered high-energy laser weapon system either abroad or for American homeland security, it's clear that the U.S. Army wants to wait for a more tactical and mobile system.

While more mobile and cheaper than earlier planned high-energy laser (HEL) proposals, Skyguard lacks the mobility of solid-state high energy systems the Army would rather have, according to Northrop and Army officials.

A demonstrator for such a system probably won't be ready until the mid part of the coming decade.

Army officials have made their need for a very mobile system known this year in congressional testimony. More telling, the service has no current funding plans for anything like a Skyguard system.

Israel and the United States were working on a mobile tactical high energy laser (MTHEL) until last year, but the joint program fell apart partly because Israel was ready to move forward while the Army wanted a more tactical system.

"The U.S. Army wanted something that was more mobile," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.

...and probably something that its not so easy to be killed by if something goes wrong. Flourine and deutrium are none too friendly when they get a chance encounter with the battlefield bully called 'shrapnel'.

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