Friday, December 31, 2004

Lasers and aircraft

If this stuff is actually happening (and not someone misinterpreting what happened) the lasers aren't likely to be a weapon themselves. The energy requirements for a beam that would do actual physical damage is pretty large and would require a separate vehicle just to generate the power.

Its also not likely to be part of an active homing weapon. Passive IR ManPads have been around for decades and I would imagine that its easier to get one of these than develop a completely new weapon.

It could be a rangefinding laser. At the upper end of the power spectrum these are capable of blinding people at decent ranges. But you still have the problem of targeting the cockpit windows and simultaneously blinding both the pilot and copilot at a critical point in the landing/takeoff sequence. Not impossible, but difficult. On the other hand a targeting laser is easier to conceal than a missile. On the gripping hand a hundred dollar pair of sunglasses would remove the threat.

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