In terms of the energy delivered to targets in comparison to chemical explosives, beam devices that emit coherent electromagnetic radiation are inconsequential. However, in terms of energy-density, the energy per unit area delivered by a laser beam, for example, is magnitudes more intense than chemical explosives. Moreover, delivery time is essentially instantaneous, measured in microseconds over terrestrial distances. It is only for these two reasons: high energy-density and high delivery rate, that such low-energy devices are even seriously considered for military purposes.
The effectiveness of chemical explosives, requiring physical delivery systems, can be thwarted by passive means, such as armor plate, or active means, such as anti-missile systems. The delivery system is however essentially environmentally insensitive. In contrast, beam weapon effectiveness is highly sensitive to the environment. For example, particulate matter such as dust, sand, snow or rain, or ground fog and clouds, effectively disperse the beam energy. Nevertheless, if a reasonable fraction of the emitted energy can be delivered, these weapons under proper environmental conditions can be devastating against vehicles or personnel and equally so against aircraft and ballistic nosecones.
An intense laser beam can have a number of deleterious effects on targets. Against personnel laser beams can directly inflict serious wounds, ranging from blindness to massive hemorrhaging of internal organs. Against vehicles and aircraft laser beams can degrade operating systems while pulsed laser beams can trigger shock waves that disrupt internal structures. Warhead arming and detonation systems can be rendered inoperable.
Most battlefield weapons, whether ground based or airborne, still depend on line-of-sight ranging, the conditions under which beams weapon are effective. Under such conditions there exists a paucity of target defense means. Likewise, aircraft and ballistic nosecones have no effective protection against such weapons. The objective of this invention is to ameliorate the effect of beam strikes on targets.
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