In the Austin Powers comedy movies, Dr. Evil demands to have sharks with lasers attached to their heads. A fair request for an evil villain, no less, and quite funny.
Alas, it is no joke that the US Navy is reportedly arming Virginia-class nuclear submarines with high-energy lasers that will be capable of disabling drones and blowing up small boats, the UK’s Daily Mail reported, following a feature in Popular Mechanics.
Despite the fact that lasers don’t work under water, experts say that adding a laser onto a submarine isn’t entirely impossible, but it would “require innovative designs,” the report said.
Researcher, Sidharth Kaushal, told the outlet that lasers put on the Virginia-class submarines, which are generally used for intelligence gathering, would have to attach to the sub’s photonics mast, which is a sensor that functions similarly to a periscope, the report said.
The lasers would reportedly be less detectable, which could prove very useful during covert missions, the report said.
Making this type of technology work on a submarine would also require a beam director and something to draw power from the nuclear reactor, according to Popular Mechanics. The beam director will, all things considered, keep the beam focused on a target.
Not much use against Chinese or Russian hypersonic weapons herking and jerking at Mach 5. In fact, with the sub surfaced, it would make a tasty target for enemy missiles.
In order to generate the power for the laser, the report said a “subsafe” connection is required to allow a hole to be made in the hull, the report said.
A 2017 proposal shows that such a technology has already been developed by Triton Systems and will be ready to be deployed in 2020, the report said.
The company said there are some risks associated with getting power from the laser source to the masthead, “but the proposed penetrator and cable assembly addresses these risks through design, modeling, prototyping, and test.”
The only question the US Navy is not answering, is why? Perhaps, it all goes back to Dr. Evil?