History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Space, Technology and Society, War Commentary To Declassify August 20, 2021 Rand Simberg 13 Comments …or not to declassify? That is the question. An interesting article on space weapons and deterrence.
13 thoughts on “To Declassify”
I’m going for a ground based mobile laser than can do a hell of a lot more than blind a satellite if that satellite is in LEO. Think remote welding.
There’s been tons of work done in this area….
“I’m going for a ground based mobile laser”
I think I understand why we supposedly don’t have high-power laser satellites; the problem of putting large tonnages in orbit. Ground based lasers are limited by fixed location. But why not a high-powered laser (>10MW) on a ship? Like say a large naval cruiser like a 10,000 ton Ticonderoga-class cruiser retro fitted to carry high powered lasers?
You could add extra generator capacity and large capacitors to accommodate maybe a high powered Free-electron laser possibly with sufficient range/power to shoot down an ICBM during its long glide phase. Ship(s) could be deployed anywhere needed; after all 70% of earth’s surface is ocean. East or west coast of the USA; Alaska area etc. You could have dozen(s) so equipped that have GPS linkages to aid in tracking the enemy missiles to assist in targeting as well as the ship’s on board radar. Ships seem a much better place for a mobile high powered directed energy weapon than a satellite anyway; more mass/power to play around with than any practically sized foreseeable satellite would have for instance.
Why not both?
“Why not both?”
Yes. But a >10K ton cruiser you have allot more power/mass to play around with than a ground based “mobile laser” or an air-borne laser. Your talking ship sized (as opposed to tank-size) generators/capacitors etc. access to effectively unlimited amouts of coolant water (the ocean). and greater mobilty (~70%) earth surface. Unlike a large satellite in orbit you have a crew on the ship to make repairs/upgrades as needed you could even helicopter out to the ship parts/equipment to repair as needed while the ship stays on station.
Good idea but it won’t happen with the Tico’s, the Navy has been trying to get congress to let them decommission them for several years now.
You can do a lot with mobile semi tractor trailer(s) <- note emphasis on multiples. And fixed sites are unlimited compared to a ship. Of course those can be avoided with enough delta v. But that again is also a deterrent.
And rail cars. Not as mobile but definitely scalable.
“And fixed sites are unlimited compared to a ship.”
There is a limit on how many ships you can build/equip. with lasers? The number of ships one can build is just as “unlimited” as the number of fixed sites you can build; difference being a “fixed site” can’t move as desired. Wonder if you could retro-fit or design a large submarine with said FEL capacity? Combining the mobility of a surface ship with the ability to hide of a submarine.
Of course, now that we are on the dawn of the “space-force” equipped with super-heavy/starship(s) era my assumptions about power/mass favoring ship over satellite while valid currently may not be for too many years more. Ships so equipped would still augment our deterrent capability even if only supporting our space based defenses.
“The effort — which sources say is being championed by Gen. John Hyten, the vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff ”
How does this guy still have a job?
The article claims that we need to convince the public of the threats we face and so we need to declassify weapons systems rather than intel on threats. How about we stop trying to play poker with all of our cards showing?
Yep. Deterrence is about what the enemy *thinks* what nasty capabilities you *might* have, not what capabilities the enemy *knows* you have. It’s a psychological game.
“How does this guy still have a job? ”
He’s retiring at the end of the year, being 61.
If major elements of the program were in development prior to around 2014 (and given development cycles, that seems likely), the PRC government already knows everything there is to know about it, which means very likely so do Russia, Iran, and North Korea. So the only reason to keep it classified is to prevent the Americans from knowing about it.
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