North Korean nuclear threat

North Korean nuclear threat.

JyllandsPosten has:

Now I don’t know what target drone that is nor what it is made of, but aluminium burns excellently – provided you can get it hot enough – and when it burns there is no way to put it out, as it burns without oxygen.

The laser reminds me of the Boeing YAL-1 program:

It was a Boeing 747 with a laser on board supposedly meant to be used against tactical ballistic missiles. The program was stopped a couple of years ago. Apparently not enough power could be generated to give the required range, furthermore there was a problem with the optics getting sufficient accuracy – as I recall it.

Comparing the size of the weapon in the nose of the 747 and the one on board the USS Dewey (DDG 105), they seem about the same size.  It is not impossible that what failed as an airborne system could very well be successful as a close range anti-aircraft system on board larger ships.

Bringing down range requirement with a factor of 10 should easily bring the power needed within manageable proportion – adding to that, that weight is not the same consideration on board a ship as it is on an aircraft. It could dispense with systems like the Goalkeeper that guzzles tons of ammunition.

I can’t help but notice that the DDG 56 USS McCain and the DDG 73 USS Decatur are also Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Considering that few places in North Korea are more than 50 miles from the sea it is not totally unrealistic. I recall during the Vietnam War that one North Vietnamese pilot got the surprise of his life when he was shot down over North Vietnamese territory by a Tatar naval SAM.

This raises the question, if the recent North Korean semi-successful missile test wasn’t actually intercepted by this system now presented to the public, would the US Navy have the gall to test their system on the potential enemy’s test of their system? I wouldn’t put it past them. For one thing – it would give a hint of where to look for the pieces.

But I’ve written earlier about one of China’s new fighter bomber aircraft that could be carrying nuclear weapons against US carriers. A system like this would make that sort of low level anti-ship mission quite unlikely to succeed. So there might indeed be more than one recipient to this message.

With about 60 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in service, a destroyer screen around the carrier could make life short and very difficult for an attacker. The system is hardly cheap, but the blurb claims a price of one “round” to be around one USD. Normally the ammunition for a weapons system is by far the most expensive part of the system – generally weapons systems are retired either when depots run low or the explosive passes last “sale by” date.

There is a chilling message to both North Korea and China in recent events.

Whenever the blustering and parading of a new system takes place, the US demonstrates an entirely new system as they did with large carrier launched drones when China wound up the rubber bands and started a fighter type aircraft from their slightly dented ex-Russian aircraft carrier.

It must truly be disheartening for a Chinese or Korean weapons designer and his generals to find that their newest threat is met by a slight yawn: “Oh, we thought of that ages ago – but we can move the time for operational deployment forward a couple of years!”

Sort of the same humiliating experience of getting a new bike as a boy – only to find the neighbors well-to-do parents have given their son a sports car.

Actually not a bad strategy at all: Let the opposition toil, sweat and spend a fortune developing and setting up production – and only then reveal the counter-move two generations in advance of his best effort. That is truly cruel! Especially if you keep doing it over and over again.