The explosions in China have had conspiracy theorists reeling with theories over the cause and weapons that could have been used in the possible attack. One of the theories that has been getting a lot of attention is the idea of a space based laser weapon or Ion Cannon of sort.
While this type of technology is nothing new to me, I have done very little to no research on this subject. I quickly found out that not only is this weaponry possible, but that the US Government, in particular DARPA have been actively developing it. Needless to say, we can assume both China and Russia have been doing the same.
In 1996 the US and Israel began work on developing a Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) weapon called Demonstrator which would utilize the deuterium fluoride chemical laser technology. The weapon was publicly displayed as a defensive weapon capable of taking down high speed conventional weaponry like Missiles or Artillery Shells. In fact, the very first public demonstration of this in 2001 saw Demonstrator shoot down 28 Katyusha artillery rockets and five artillery shells. The project is publicly marketed as the development of the ‘Skyguard’. A more advanced version of Israels current defensive missile system ‘Iron Dome’. It has since been further developed into the mobile version MTHEL which saw active combat in 2004, shooting down multiple incoming mortars in Lebanon. Much of its use is now very secretive and it seems, at this moment in time, to be one of Israels primary military developments. Trying to find any evidence of the US or any NATO country using this in combat is very hard to find. But you can bet that this technology was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, Active Denial Systems are the only Directed Weapons systems that seem to have received any real coverage of use in Afghan. Again, keeping to the defensive use story.
In 2006, Ben Yisrael called for the further development of THEL. Ben Yisrael is now the chairman of Israels Space Agency. Taking THEL to space?
Here is a demonstration from the US Military showing THEL destroying 3 mortar targets simultaneously:
Further development of land based laser weaponry came in 2007 when DARPA issued a challenge to two laser weapon developers to develop a new High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) capable of being mounted on small combat vehicles like a Humvee or a Fighter Jet. While much of this development has remained in secrecy, DARPA had planned to test the system in the summer of 2015 at the White Sands Missile Range.
Much of what I had been reading had been laser weapons that had been marketed as defense systems. I wanted to try and find some kind of pre 2001 laser system that had been developed for attack. I quickly came across the Advance Tactical Laser (ATL).
It is unknown exactly when the ATL first began development, but the first public demonstration of an ATL was the Blue-Beam Air to Ground Laser which was test-fired from an AC-130 (AC-X Son of Spectre) aircraft at the northern annex of the White Sands Proving Grounds near Fort Wingate, New Mexico. Further development of this weapon continued until 2008 when Boeing announced it had successfully hit a 3 by 3 foot target from operational altitude with its new ATL system from on board a Hercules support aircraft. It had an effective range of 20km.
This is where my research started to become interesting, There had been some concerns raised at this time that an airborne laser system could be used to attack targets which would usually be considered ‘off-limits’, due to the weapon’s ‘plausible deniability’. Since no such weapon had ever been observed before, its effects would be hard to identify, meaning that there would rarely be conclusive proof of a laser strike. Interesting, considering there were some theories around the 9/11 attack that suggested the use of Directed Energy Weapons. I know 9/11 had happened almost a decade prior to this public demonstration, but as most of us know, the US military hides most of its weapon developments for decades before they ever demonstrate them publicly. Take the SR71 for example, yet this technology would be considered far more black budget than the SR71 could ever have been.
At this point I began to dig a little deeper and came across something called Advance Relay Mirror System. Something I had come across before, but had very little understanding of how it worked.
Relay Mirror Technology, under the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, began looking at using a dual-mirror instrument in the air or in space to transfer laser energy from one part of Earth to another. Initially known as EAGLE, or Evolutionary Aerospace Global Laser Engagement, this technology was also exploring the potential for developing a constellation of large aperture satellites around the Earth.
These low Earth orbit relay mirror satellites would be used to relay laser energy from one point to another, providing a worldwide speed of light capability to the war fighter. In a typical application, a laser beam would be directed at a “receive mirror.” That mirror would collect the beam, then pass it to a beam control system, which would “clean it up” optically, then refocus and retransmit from a second mirror. This would be a practical application for moving laser energy from one part of Earth to another – extending laser energy beyond the horizon, beyond the limiting confines of the Earth’s curvature, something which has been troubling the development of laser weapons for a long time.
The emphasis was on the relay mirror technology and technical synergy with other airborne or space based directed energy systems, not on laser source development. Other airborne or space based directed energy systems. Let that sink in for a second.
In attaining this goal several critical technologies were examined. They included space vehicle design, vibration and thermal management, attitude control, large angle slewing and momentum control of a multibody system (two mirrors, optical bus and space bus). In terms of optics, the system must be able to precisely point, acquire and track the laser source and the targets, requiring line-of-sight maintenance for both mirrors. Finally, large, lightweight (potentially deployable) mirrors needed to be developed as well as optical coatings and techniques for controlling jitter and optical aberrations.
The Directed Energy Directorate began developing a subscale relay mirror payload to reduce program risk and demonstrate critical technologies. Known as the Aerospace Relay Mirror System, or ARMS, the project utilised two 75cm telescopes to redirect laser energy from the ground to objects in space.
Boeing’s Laser and Electro Optical Systems (L&EOS) began developing a constellation of as many as two dozen orbiting mirrors that would allow 24/7 coverage of every corner of the globe. When activated, the constellation would enable a directed energy response to critical trouble spots anywhere. The bifocal relay mirror spacecraft system is composed of two optically coupled telescopes used to redirect the laser light from ground-based, aircraft-based or spacecraft based lasers to distant points on the earth or in space. Again, ‘from spacecraft based weapons’. Let that sink in.
Some of this research builds on the Directorate’s Relay Mirror Experiment, conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was an experiment to determine the precision upon which scientists could fire a groundbased laser to an orbiting mirror passing overhead, and bounce – or relay – that laser beam from that mirror to a target board on the ground several miles away. The experiment, which was repeated many times using Air Force facilities in Maui, Hawaii, proved this could be done successfully.
Now this is where this got very interesting for me, I found this. Only a few weeks after 9/11, the budget for ARMS was increased. The money coming directly from MilSatCom. Suggesting the previously suggested form of deployment, airborne, had now been scrapped. I wonder why? Had the first ever actual target demonstration of ARMS been a success?. At this point I found this. I wont go further into the theories of ARMS being used on 9/11 in this post, will save that for another day.
It wasn’t until 2006 did Boeing announce that they had successfully relayed a laser beam from one side of the planet to the other. The age of the Ion Cannon had been born. Suddenly the US Military had the means to project the ATL to anywhere on the planet. Now think back to one of the concerns when ATL was initially demonstrated ” airborne laser system could be used to attack targets which would usually be considered ‘off-limits’, due to the weapon’s ‘plausible deniability’.”
Take this to current day. China and Russia have been rocked by disasters the last few weeks. China seeing multiple explosions at one of their most busiest ports only days after deliberately lowering the value of their currency in an act of financial war against the US. Considering their capability in deploying this technology and leaving little to no evidence, the possibility of the use of ARMS in this event is highly likely in my opinion. .