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Royal Navy Deployed Laser Weapons During the Falklands War 139

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the zap-zap-you're-dead dept.
Zothecula writes "Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain."
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Royal Navy Deployed Laser Weapons During the Falklands War

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  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @12:05AM (#44549165) Homepage

    They were only strong enough to "dazzle" pilots, not do any actual damage.

    • by pitchpipe (708843)
      CO-PILOT: Do not look into laser with remaining eye, sir!
      • by Anonymous Coward

        HAHAHAH! Someone give this guy a +5 funny mod! Someone link to an image of the novelty laser warning sticker that says this! Quick! Someone link to some vaguely related xkcc comic! BWAHAHAHA!

    • Well, they did only have the keychain laser penlights from the corner store...

    • The cockpit windscreens of aircraft with any kind of service under their belts are replete with micro-cracks even though the windscreens remain transparent to the naked eye. When you shine a laser on the windscreen, all the cracks 'light up' through internal scattering and reflection. The higher power the laser, the more dramatic the effect. For the pilot, the windscreen suddenly becomes a sparkling dazzle of bright pinpricks and lines of whatever colour of laser light is used. This dramatically obscure

    • Green laser pointers in the pilots' eyes?
  • "Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future."

    "We" who? Somebody who has been living in a box for the past seventy years?

  • Laser seems like a waste since there are some many drones with smart bombs these days.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are hundreds of secret fancy projects to build deadly weapons and find creative ways to kill people while spending their tax money throughout History.

    Why don't the various governments ever conspire to produce something for the greater good ?

    Something like a 5'000 fucking billion USD research project for curing AIDS or cancer or even an efficient form of renewable energy instead of filling the banking system's gaping holes ?

    Are there only evil sociopaths in charge ?

    Why don't we just take the laser can

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not everything can be solved by throwing money and more resources at it; just like women can't birth the parasite out from them in 1 month instead of 9 if you give them money. Since that's a fact, we shouldn't let progress in other 'areas' where progress can be made with money fall by the wayside. That side of progress still yields plenty of fruit

    • by gtall (79522)

      So, you want to spend 5 Trillion of U.S. dollars. Considering the entire economy is about 16-18 Trillion and the entire federal budget is about 3.8 Trillion, I'm guessing that's going to put quite a dent in things.

      And the U.S. just announced they might have a cure for malaria. There's the AIDS program in Africa started by that war monger G. W. Bush. There's all the other medical science done by the U.S.

      Now, about these evil sociopaths in charge. St. Obama is a sociopath?

      Oh BTW, since you didn't get the memo

  • by simonbp (412489) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @01:33AM (#44549573) Homepage

    Yeah, it was just designed to blind optical sensors (and eyeballs), but still: SOVIET LASER TANK.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I wouldn't minimize blinding weapons at all; I think they could easily be faster, more effective, and more targeted than chemical weapons, for example. (And before you point out nobody has hardly bothered to use those in many decades, recall that finding at least a stash of them was supposed to earn Iraq the "WMD" label, thus justifying the invasion. And that was back when WMD still sort of meant something [nationaljournal.com]).
  • by auric_dude (610172) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:28AM (#44549765)
    Can be ordered / viewed via the National Archive https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/prem-highlights-1983.htm [nationalarchives.gov.uk], http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/s/res?_q=PREM%2019/972 [nationalarchives.gov.uk], http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C13497591 [nationalarchives.gov.uk] & http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/01/national-archives-cabinet-papers-1983 [theguardian.com] As for use of the lasers weapons, I can find no links but with suspicions of such weapons being deployed on the Kirov I expect it added another thing to be considered by the attacking airman.
  • What are we supposed to do with this lame, old information? It is no secret that lasers were already appearing in weaponry by then. Lasers were used by British commandos on the ground to designate targets for the free-fall bombs dropped by Vulcan bombers in Operation Black Buck [wikipedia.org].

  • by post_toastie (649723) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:55AM (#44549861)
    If you played the 'Harpoon' paper and pencil naval wargame in the late 80s, early 90s - not the later computer game that was based on the board game - this system was available to British ships in the Falkland Island scenarios. Given that the rules for the game were based on openly published data, I don't see how this is really 'news' to anyone. A quick search shows that there are references to this system in other publications in the 90s as well. The game effect was to cause planes at low altitude to break off their attack. For planes at very low altitude, namely Argentine pilots trying to fly below the engagement altitude of British SAMs, there was a percentage chance the plane would crash into the water.
  • by XNormal (8617) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @03:43AM (#44550145) Homepage

    "The pity was that Plymouth had not had time to turn right around, because she was fitted with the new laser equipment known locally to us as "Flasher" - which could well have stopped the attack in its tracks, because it literally forces any incoming pilot to pull up sharply during the forty-second period in which he cannot see."

    from One Hundred Days by Admiral Sandy Woodward (1992)

  • Jasper Maskelyne (of the stage-magician family) did something similar with searchlights and mirrors during WWII (North African campaign, if I recall) - sending flashes of light into the sky to disorient (or "disorientate" as the Brits would say) German pilots. So it was hardly a new idea, just a different light source that's worse for the eyes.

  • The have amitted to the lasers but are rhe sharks wearing them still classified?
    • by maroberts (15852)

      The have admitted to the lasers but are the sharks wearing them still classified?

      That's why we're still pretending we sunk the Belgrano with a submarine and torpedoes...

  • by sunking2 (521698) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @09:00AM (#44551549)
    Circa 1982 what they really meant was that they had covert plans to bedazzle Argentine pilots denim jackets, thus reducing combat efficiency as they marveled at their new designer clothes at retail prices.

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