Jesse Casadaban, Daniel Iwanski, James Tucci

Jesse Casadaban, Daniel Iwanski, James Tucci

Jesse Casadaban, Daniel Iwanski, James Tucci

‘Star Wars’ Program started by Ronald

Reagan in 1983

R+D future technologies of missile


Defend against Russian ICBM threat

High Velocity (v=2.5 – 7 km/s)

High Entry Angle (15-40 deg.)

(show trajectories, 42)

Sufficient power to kill ICBM in boost phase

Sufficient beam quality, pointing accuracy, and

rapid retargetability to deliver lethal burst to

multiple targets in engagement time window

Accurate missile launch detection and decoy


Compartmentalize laser technology to size of


Multiple shots per flight

Response to SDI ABL plan

Converted Boeing 747-


Completed May 2002

Houses Megawatt COIL

(Chemical Oxygen Iodide


Multi-Level Missile

Tracking System

Specialized Adaptive


Laser pulse superheats

and weakens missile skin

near fuel tank, causing

rupture and failure

Developed by Phillips Labs in 1977

Uses hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach) and

potassium hydroxide (Drano)

Reacted then accelerated to supersonic speeds

in laser gain region with Iodine Monohalide

Creates 1.315 micron (Infrared) laser

6 lasers coupled in series

Delivers Megawatt pulse for 3-5 sec

Destroys TBMs at 600km and ICBMs at 300km

IR sensors – passive, six on plane, detect heat

signatures of ICBM launch

Targeting laser (top) acquires target by active

lasing, precisely calculates range and speed

Turret swivels to target

Active optics in 1.5 m telescope filter out

atmospheric noise

Primary laser focuses on target, shot fires

Whole process takes 8-12 sec

Multiple threats engaged by targeting computer

Atmospheric fluctuations cause deformation of

the laser beam (stars twinkle)

Rubber Mirror

341 actuators adjust beam 1000x per second

Ensures proper heating of target for critical time

Data delivered via IR sensors, ground-based,

and space-based tracking

Targets prioritized on-board by threat

Decoys discriminated

20-40 shots per flight

Low energy test March 2007, small ground

target illuminated, success

COIL installed July 2008

High energy test January 2010, missile in-flight

illuminated and destroyed, success

Despite success, Airforce and SecDef Gates say

ABL “does not reflect something that is

operationally viable”

Started by SDI in 1983, only now being realized

$ Multi-Billion spent by DoD in R+D

Would require a fleet of 7 planes to stay on

continuous SnD, $1.1 Billion each

Range limited, active in hotspot

Cannot fire through clouds, fog

Compare with availability, capability, and cost of


Funding for 2 nd plane has been cut, but R+D

continues by DoD

US/Israel collaboration

Uses deuterium fluoride (DF) laser to shoot

down missiles/mortars

Shot down Lebanese Kaytusha rockets and

artillery shells in 2006 war

Lebanese tactics to reduce effectiveness of laser


Reflective or heat-resistant coatings, dimples

Modify geometry to lowest cross-section

‘Spoofing’ trajectory

Supersonic gaseous envelope cooling, like

‘hyper-cavitating torpedoes’

Modified AC-130U gunship

Uses smaller 100 kW COIL

Employed against high priority ground targets

with minimal collateral damage

Tested summer 2009, success

Air Force Scientific Advisory Board report says

ATL has “no operational utility”

Is the ABL still a viable weapons system? Given

the cost and alternatives, should it be treated as

a relic of the Reagan Cold War era? Or is it still

valuable as an aerial ABM solution?

Should the DoD cut funding for this project and

convert the laser to a smaller, ground-based

platform? The research dollars to other laser


Is the country well-protected with groundbased

ABM systems and satellite launch

detection? Does the ABM fill a gap in the

‘missile shield’?,8599,1964310,00.html


APS Report, ‘Science and Technology of Directed Energy Weapons.’ 1987.

• Due to non-proliferation policies and the additional

development of conventional weapons, nuclear

weapons are projected to take a reduced role

• Strategists still value nuclear warheads in certain


• Widely dispersed targets

• Deep or heavily armored targets

• Mobile missiles

• Bomb makes contact with soil or concrete and

embeds itself

• Delayed mechanism allows bomb to explode

inside of target for more damage

• Originally created during Cold War when

Americans and Soviets began building bunkers

at such depths to withstand surface

thermonuclear explosions

• To be used on underground weapon caches or


• Theoretically able to penetrate concrete up to

150 feet deep.

• Explosion would create a shockwave intended

to collapse subterranean structures

• Lawrence Livermore

National Laboratory

proposed modifying B83

nuclear warhead into a

stronger and heavier casing

• B83 warhead is incredibly

powerful - 1.2 megatons

(almost 100 times greater

than Hiroshima bomb)

• Others would be B61-11

warheads - about 340


• Fallout containment

• A 1 kiloton bomb (1/1000 of the proposed design) must be

buried 200 - 300 feet to contain fallout.

• RNEP much more powerful and would detonate at a

shallower depth

• Lenton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security


• “the laws of physics will [never allow a bomb to penetrate] far

enough to trap all fallout. This is a nuclear weapon that is going

to be hugely destructive over a large area.”

• Models show a single blast claiming millions of lives

due to explosion range and fallout effects

• Effectiveness

• “Sterilization Zone” - Dome

of intense heat and

radiation within ground

near point of explosion

• Biological and chemical

weapon caches would have

to be in this area to be

effectively destroyed.

• Otherwise, the explosion

would effectively spread

the toxins, especially if the

amount of explosive debris

is great.

• Increased amount of

collateral damage

• Effectiveness

• Unknown nature of underground networks could

make utilization of the bomb inefficient

• Very deep or wide spread bunkers would either be

out of range or require multiple warheads to be


• Problems With Nuclear Bunker Busters

• Astrophysicists warn that

the asteroid Apophis could

threaten planet around


• Nuclear warheads could be

used to knock an asteroid

off of a collision path with

the Earth.

• Effectiveness is contingent

upon amount of time.

• Detonate a warhead next to the asteroid to

cause a slight change in path

• Depending on amount of time, change in lateral

velocity of only 1 cm/s could cause the asteroid

to miss by thousands of kilometers.

• Detonate the warhead on or in the asteroid to

cause it to shatter to many littler pieces.

• Serious concerns about whether breaking up a

single large body into many smaller ones would

improve position.

• Strategic changes

• Psychological effects of nuclear arsenal still exist

• Non-proliferation laws and the reduction of the

total number of nuclear weapons

• Hybridizing conventional and nuclear weapons to

create more efficient bombs and missiles

• Reliable Replacement Warheads

• National Nuclear Security Administration

(NNSA) currently has stockpiles of Cold-War era


• Projected yields inaccurate

• Reliability in question - duds possible

• Older materials pose a higher risk to weapons


• Security features could allow accidental or

unauthorized use

• Less hazardous, more

reliable nuclear warhead

prototypes are being


• Eventually, replacing the

older warheads with the

new would reduce the

liability and safety issues

• Would also increase the

life-span of the weapons

• Congressional criticism -

potentially no need for any

nuclear weapons at all

• Do you think that tactical military weaponry will trend

towards honing of nuclear warheads or further

development of conventional bombs?

• Do you think it is viable to develop nuclear weapons as

an asteroid deterrent even if the threat of contact is

very small?

• Is it a better idea to outfit stockpiled nuclear with

newer, safer warheads, or should they just be scrapped


More magazines by this user