US Air Force Unveils Combat ‘Laser Guns’ On AC-130 Gunships

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US Air Force Unveils Combat 'Laser Guns' On AC-130 Gunships

Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Just day after we highlighted “Silent Hunter” – China’s new vehicle-slicing laser gun – it appears the US military is stepping up the propaganda on its own ‘hi-tech weaponry’. Air Force Special Operations Command plans to install and test combat lasers on AC-130 gunships within a year.

The Pentagon has been experimenting with laser weapons for decades. In 2009, the Advanced Tactical Laser — fired from a C-130 — burned a hole in the hood of a truck.

The Air Force and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency spent billions of dollars putting a laser on the nose of the 747 jetliner that would be used to shoot down ballistic missiles. The project was canceled in 2012. Webb acknowledged that the project, which didn’t field an operational aircraft, left a bad taste in people’s mouths.

In 2014, the Navy deployed a laser on an amphibious transport dock in the Persian Gulf. The captain of the ship was given permission to use the laser as a defensive weapon.

But now, as DefenseOne.com reports, a laser-armed C-130 project is U.S. Special Operations Command’s top unfunded priority, according to Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” Webb said of the project Thursday at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference. “There are a lot of vendors that are really contributing to and continue to push that technology along.”

The plan is to install a relatively low-kilowatt laser, do a “proof of concept and go from there,” Webb said, increasing power laser weapon after it’s proven accurate and effective in testing. The command has money “to do the first steps” of the project.

After a year of talking with “every industry partner who’s ever even touched a laser…I know the technology has matured now, I believe we can put a high energy laser — offensive and defensive — on an AC-130 by the close of this decade.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean turning the entire future AC-130J fleet into laser planes, but having “at least four or five of our airplanes modified in this fashion will help.”

US Air Force Unveils Combat 'Laser Guns' On AC-130 Gunships

NextBigFuture.com notes that The Air Force plans to begin firing laser weapons from larger platforms such as C-17s and C-130s until the technological miniaturization efforts can configure the weapon to fire from fighter jets such as an F-15, F-16 or F-35. Instead of flying with six or seven missiles on an aircraft, a directed energy weapons system could fire thousands of shots using a single gallon of jet fuel.

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  • Mikey Harry Harris

    The AC-130 is a great example of a weapon that can only be used against low tech opponents. It is very close to useless against a state with strong area denial capabilities.

    • Mr. Perfect

      You’re an idiot. This plane would destroy any Russian ship or ground force. It would destroy any ship in general. Say goodbye to that piece of shit lone Russian aircraft carrier that smokes and must be towed every 10 miles.

      You should worry about the A10 as well.

      “Area denial capabilities.” If you meant aereal then you really don’t know what you’re talking about. How did those AA guns do for Iraq during the Iraq war? Hmm? Oh yeah, their military was disbanded after being one of the largest in the world. Defeated in a matter of weeks. They were they exact same AA that Russians use.

      • Thegr8rambino

        And S400 would smoke the c-130 before itncouldneven use lasers ;)

        • Ace

          An untested proposition. If tested, results undisclosed. If results unfavorable, deployment planned only in areas without S400 threat.

      • John Whitehot

        omg, you’re one of the biggest bigots ever. the kind that watches desert storm on cnn and thinks the us rules the world through military force.
        the A-10 has been retired because it’s a piece of crap against any kind of sam, since it can reach speeds uncompatible with surviving a contested airspace.
        Iraqi AA guns?? lololololol.
        At their time, vietnamese military did a pretty good job with their AA guns bringing down only some thousands of US planes and helicopters.
        US air power is at its finest when flying over uncontested areas.
        Integrated air defences operating with modern equipment and tactics and in coordination with ground based fighters will bleed any NATO air force to the point of renounce trying to conquer air superiority.

      • grumpy_carpenter

        You really should do your homework before writing Mr. Perfect.

        That “piece of shit lone Russian aircraft carrier” is in fact an aircraft carrying missile cruiser armed with 192 Tor SAMS. Even if she didn’t have her air squadron the Tor’s are capable of shooting down precision guided weapons ….. slow moving AC-130’s or A-10’s would’t stand a chance, which is why they are primarily used against ground forces where the USAF has air superiority and there are no air defences.

        I’m pretty sure anti-shipping cruise missiles would be the weapon of choice against such a target while the AC-130 and A-10’s would be used in the close air support they were designed to be used for.

        “Area denial capabilities.” is exactly what it sounds like ….. denying space to forces of all kinds not just aerial threats.

        Russian air defences don’t use “AA guns” they have layered air defences mostly using SAMS with the only thing that could be describes as “AA guns” being the Pantsir S1. None of their current inventory of air defences were used in the iraq war ….. just like the USA Russians keep the best weapons for themselves and export lesser or obsolete versions.

  • Mr. Perfect

    The U.S has had lasers for years.

    • JamilYamil

      Yes, for eye surgery

    • testera

      Yep! I remember watchin’ a documentary about it as a kid back in 1985. Here is an excerpt from it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raWZraPHLqM

    • grumpy_carpenter

      Yes they do, they spent billions on various programs all of which were cancelled because they aren’t effective. They work but not as an effective weapon for all kinds of reasons …..the least of which is the size of airframe that is required to house the laser (the only successful platform to date is a boeing 747) and the amount of power required to produce a beam that doesn’t bloom in less than ideal atmospheric conditions ie not at 45,000 aimed into space but in near surface haze, weather, dust and pollution.

  • chris chuba

    I guess there is a use case for lasers if they can generate enough power but they would be a bad match against hypersonic missiles. Hypersonic missiles would already have very good thermal shielding in order to cope with high speeds and the lasers would have only a short time to operate on them.