The title says it all. Laser may be the new game changer for the only global super power.
It has to be. More and more countries develop more and more sophisticated equipment and USA is facing a tighter environment in which it is harder and harder to sustain the leading position.
For two decades the F-22 ruled the the skies around the world an it had to be a pleasant feeling but the good days are over. The PAK FA is on it’s way with possibly the L- band radar and we do not know for sure what will it be capable. The Chinese are pushing hard with their concepts and although they can not (yet!!!) produce a reliable engine other components might start to catch up with the rest of the world. Of course there is the problem of putting all of the data in to one clear stream but sooner or later they will master it. If USA wants to stay in the game it has to make another jump and show something new and shiny.
The only solution which comes to my mind is putting a laser into a fighter. Now this may sound simple but when we think of lasers on aircraft the imagination should bring the bulky 747 in front of our eyes. It flew and worked but how to fit a machine seen in the nose of the 747 into lets say the F-35 or the next gen fighter? Of course this was a demonstrator, a test bed, and we have moved further with the development but is the progress moving fast enough?
The key thing with laser is that they need energy, lots of it. How to produce it on an aircraft? How to store it so that we can have let’s say 4-6 shots? How to quickly produce more so that after shooting those 4-6 shots we can start firing again? Putting them on navy ships seems more feasible – the have lots of energy from small nuclear power plans hidden in their bellies but what about the aircraft?
How much will it cost to develop such weapons? It’s really hard to say, as we have to overcome so many obstacles that it is enough for a few big programs but I think that it is worth it to put the money on the table. What are our alternatives? Further develop missiles? Cannons? Everyone has them and as long as the USA has the technology edge it should try to use it. This would be a game changer for many many years and let’s face it – it is a race which can’t be won. You have to run all the time and look closely behind because the pack is on your six. Aircraft cost a lot and we got used to it…
Time is ticking
Solutions must come fast as the global situation is changing rapidly. Of course USA can just back up and sit on it’s huge island but have you ever seen an Empire which says “we’re done, it’s your turn”? There will be some sort of punching here and there before the new global system emerges and if the USA wants to stay in the game and have a strong position in the new world a fancy Laser mounted on it’s fighter aircraft and other war machines might help it to last on the throne.