Directed Energy and Hybrid Kinetics

So these days there is a lot of talk about the USN and other nations putting a lot of resources into laser systems, railguns, and other things like that. One thing that has always caught my eye is the MARAUDER research into plasma weapons performed by the US in the 90's. There are brief mentions of a few successful rounds of testing, and then the project was re-classified and mentions of it cease. I have heard from a few different places that a large problem in using plasma as a projectile is that is loses cohesiveness very rapidly, necessitating extreme velocities to prevent it from becoming a hot diffuse cloud before impact.

I wrote a short sci-fi novel back in 2020, and thought about a way around the plasma diffusion problem. To my basic understanding, if an electromagnet was used to anchor the plasma, you'd end up with a plasma encased projectile that would stay cohesive for a much longer time. The short description of my idea was that a starship would vent small amounts of plasma from a fusion reactor into the firing chamber of the weapon, where a ferric alloy of tungsten would be rapidly charged into a temporary electromagnet. The energy of the plasma should help to maintain the charge of the "anchor", and the weapon, a Coilgun, would accelerate both the anchor and plasma down the barrel. It would accelerate the projectile to 0.1C, and maintain cohesion for about a second.

Marauder Program and the Shiva Star used for some of the tests
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARAUDER
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva_Star

cont 1/2

  1. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Now the plasma is very very hot, so the timing of the plasma injection and firing would need to be measured in thousandths of seconds before the projectile anchor is turned to slag. On impact, the projectile functions as an Armor Piercing Incendiary, with the superheated plasma diffusing out into the ship or station it hit. The solid projectile, even though the strength properties are probably fucked due to heat, is still moving at a tenth of the speed of light and is probably more of a semi-molten ball of metal. Now I know materials start acting incredibly strangely at high energy states, but I don't think that ball of metal is going to stay in one piece on impact, a shot from it should spray a shrapnel cone of tungsten like a shotgun through the ship at speeds that ignite the atmosphere of the ship from friction alone, on top of the flash style damage of the plasma. Maybe I'm retarded and that idea would never work, but DEW and plasma weapons are incredibly interesting to me.

    I called the weapon a Magnetic Plasma Accelerator Cannon, or MPAC. I don't see how this wouldn't be feasible, not anytime soon, but at some point in the future once fusion power is available. The number one problem to solve is the power requirements for the weapon.

    Another weapon I've always loved is the idea of a nuclear laser. basically using a tactical scale nuclear device to power a laser beam that can burn through just about anything it hits. Light diffusion is a problem there too, but in a vacuum that issue is mitigated slightly. Post your favorite DEW concepts either real life, or viable ideas from sci-fi.

    Honorable mention is pic related, Halo's Super MAC

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I remember the bugs in Stars at War used bomb pumped lasers. Humans were perplexed as to why a tiny percentage of ayy ships just exploded with no discernible reason. Eventually they figured out from salvage that the bomb chamber very occasionally failed and the bugs just thought that was an acceptable loss rate.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Space Chinese and their elevators.

  2. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I assume they just didn't get it to work very well, or they did but the energy input made it impractical.
    So they quietly dropped it and classified the records to prevent anyone else building off their work and maybe succeeding.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      You're probably right, the energy requirements would be massive, especially in a vehicle as the "coaxial" part of the weapons description implies. Generating enough power for a 5-10MJ weapon, and then making the system shoot fast enough to make it more useful than just strapping an autocannon to the chassis really doesn't seem possible. I really think that to develop those levels of energy we'll need normalization and miniaturization of nuclear power.

      Obvious mention for sci-fi goes to Hellbores from the Boloverse. They use lasers powerful enough to generate a vacuum channel between the gun and target before initiating a chunk of deuterium ice. The ensuing actively fusing nuclear fireball then expands out of the magnetically shielded chamber and nozzle, down channel into the target with energy on target in the range of hundreds of kilotons to multi-megaton depending on Hellbore size.
      They only exist in-universe due to the invention of the Battlescreen and equivalent technologies. Battlescreens shred solid projectiles into diffuse plasma and scatter lasers; so weapons engineers decided their existence wouldn't matter if the projectile is already a plasma traveling at 0.8C. Collateral damage and neutron activation of the battlefield is only of mild concern in the third millennium.

      I have read a bit of the fluff on that IP here on PrepHole but I haven't actually looked into it. Sounds a bit like Dune's shields, but honestly what doesn't. Everyone from Stargate, Star Trek, Starwars, 40K, etc. has a trope about shields not activating unless they detect XYZ parameter or some magic tech that shoots right past them them.

      If you mash any more science buzz words together, you would get another impressive copy pasta. Don't quit your day job. Plasma weapons are not feasible in the atmosphere and likely won't be effective in space. Muh electromagnets are a pathetic handwave. It won't work in open air or in open space.

      yeah well, I'm a poor nerd that couldn't afford college, so I make do with the surface level stuff I can understand and then write it out in a way that is easy to read. Maybe you'd like to clarify it for me, or better yet, realize that not all writing is about technical accuracy, but a mildly entertaining story.

  3. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Obvious mention for sci-fi goes to Hellbores from the Boloverse. They use lasers powerful enough to generate a vacuum channel between the gun and target before initiating a chunk of deuterium ice. The ensuing actively fusing nuclear fireball then expands out of the magnetically shielded chamber and nozzle, down channel into the target with energy on target in the range of hundreds of kilotons to multi-megaton depending on Hellbore size.
    They only exist in-universe due to the invention of the Battlescreen and equivalent technologies. Battlescreens shred solid projectiles into diffuse plasma and scatter lasers; so weapons engineers decided their existence wouldn't matter if the projectile is already a plasma traveling at 0.8C. Collateral damage and neutron activation of the battlefield is only of mild concern in the third millennium.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      However, it’s the only reason why everything outside of the tank is basically beyond radioactive and dead.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I know, ain't it great.

        Similar to the concept of the electrolaser, with a laser powerful enough to ionize air between the laser and the target to the point that it becomes a conductive plasma, you could send a massive electromagnetic pulse down the beamline.

        Very similar. Electrolasers are interesting in concept, and far more feasible than the absolutely fuckoff powerful lasers you would need for Hellbores to actually work.

        You're probably right, the energy requirements would be massive, especially in a vehicle as the "coaxial" part of the weapons description implies. Generating enough power for a 5-10MJ weapon, and then making the system shoot fast enough to make it more useful than just strapping an autocannon to the chassis really doesn't seem possible. I really think that to develop those levels of energy we'll need normalization and miniaturization of nuclear power.
        [...]
        I have read a bit of the fluff on that IP here on PrepHole but I haven't actually looked into it. Sounds a bit like Dune's shields, but honestly what doesn't. Everyone from Stargate, Star Trek, Starwars, 40K, etc. has a trope about shields not activating unless they detect XYZ parameter or some magic tech that shoots right past them them.
        [...]
        yeah well, I'm a poor nerd that couldn't afford college, so I make do with the surface level stuff I can understand and then write it out in a way that is easy to read. Maybe you'd like to clarify it for me, or better yet, realize that not all writing is about technical accuracy, but a mildly entertaining story.

        Battlescreens are actually very different from the depiction of shields in most media. They don't stop, deflect, or even slow what strikes them, but simply disperse and spread the threats enough that they cannot significantly penetrate the ablative armor of the war machine behind it. Provided that threat isn't moving fast enough that the cloud of particles doesn't expand significantly before it washes across or just dumps enough energy indiscriminately into the hull for it to not matter. Saturation nuclear bombardment can and has killed Bolos. It's just very difficult to achieve when those machines being piloted by advanced AI with a very, very mean point defense and E-war game; even when everyone is projectile vomiting ground hugging hyper-sonic cruise missiles.
        If you want a series with more unique shield tech. Check out The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle or other books in Pournelle's CoDomunium series. That universe has the Langston Field; which absorbs all energy that comes in contact with it. Light vanishes, projectiles stop dead. Sensor and communication masts must be extended out of the field through controlled holes to communicate with or observe anything outside. The field is completely black in it's resting state and radiates absorbed energy outwards as a perfect black body. Until it is overloaded; after which all the energy is released at once in all directions typically vaporizing what it once protected.
        Or you can check out E.E Doc Smith's Lensman series which has Ray Fields of nebulous operation. Which Langston Fields might be a homage to now that I think about it.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          There's also the screens ability to absorb the incoming energy and use it to recharge a Bolo's emergency backup batteries.

          >Until it is overloaded; after which all the energy is released at once in all directions
          Can they turn off the field in a controlled manner to direct the energy release as a weapon?

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            It's been a while but I think you have to turn them off and let them bleed down over time. Maaaybe you can run the ship off them? Not sure.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          I'll check it out, sounds right up my alley with the battlescreens. The recognition that even particles moving really fast are dangerous in that series is kind of on par with mine that navigation shields are needed for any faster than light travel. The Mote shield idea ties into that a bit as well, my navigation shields stop radiation from hitting the hull and store it as energy to vaporize micro-debris, but when you turn them off, you dump a shitload of ionizing radiation outwards. Ships have to do sublight speeds in order to actually approach a planet or space station without giving everyone cancer. That can also be used as a weapon by military vessels, blasting defender ships and stations with radiation akin to the old nuclear ABM conundrum, where you shoot down a few enemy nukes, but blind your own sensors to the next wave.

          I didn't intend to rant about my novel, but I have the opportunity and no one can stop me. My book's shields work by extending the impulse of incoming kinetics, and spreading the energy of explosions across the shield as a ripple, bleeding the shield away as radiation until they collapse. When a solid projectile comes through, the shield tries to ablate and deflect it so that the ship's armor might be able to bounce the shell. The MPAC I described in my OP benefits by forcing the shields to deal with multiple types of energy in a single place, so even if the plasma doesn't make it through, the projectile does, at the cost of not being very accurate. 48 guns in 16 turrets putting out 8 quarter ton shots per minute per gun from my hero ship might expect a 3.5% hit rate against an evading enemy.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Similar to the concept of the electrolaser, with a laser powerful enough to ionize air between the laser and the target to the point that it becomes a conductive plasma, you could send a massive electromagnetic pulse down the beamline.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Battlescreens shred solid projectiles into diffuse plasma and scatter lasers
      >scatter lasers
      While not scattering non-coherent. lower intensity light or other EM (needed for sensing the surroundings)? That would require the empty space or atmosphere around to be turned into an extremely nonlinear optical medium. There is no plausible physical mechanism for this. None. This isn’t sci-fi but crossing over into fantasy, a serious defect. Might as well call it a magic field. Sci-fi by definition should be at least plausible scientifically.

      I know, ain't it great.
      [...]
      Very similar. Electrolasers are interesting in concept, and far more feasible than the absolutely fuckoff powerful lasers you would need for Hellbores to actually work.
      [...]
      Battlescreens are actually very different from the depiction of shields in most media. They don't stop, deflect, or even slow what strikes them, but simply disperse and spread the threats enough that they cannot significantly penetrate the ablative armor of the war machine behind it. Provided that threat isn't moving fast enough that the cloud of particles doesn't expand significantly before it washes across or just dumps enough energy indiscriminately into the hull for it to not matter. Saturation nuclear bombardment can and has killed Bolos. It's just very difficult to achieve when those machines being piloted by advanced AI with a very, very mean point defense and E-war game; even when everyone is projectile vomiting ground hugging hyper-sonic cruise missiles.
      If you want a series with more unique shield tech. Check out The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle or other books in Pournelle's CoDomunium series. That universe has the Langston Field; which absorbs all energy that comes in contact with it. Light vanishes, projectiles stop dead. Sensor and communication masts must be extended out of the field through controlled holes to communicate with or observe anything outside. The field is completely black in it's resting state and radiates absorbed energy outwards as a perfect black body. Until it is overloaded; after which all the energy is released at once in all directions typically vaporizing what it once protected.
      Or you can check out E.E Doc Smith's Lensman series which has Ray Fields of nebulous operation. Which Langston Fields might be a homage to now that I think about it.

      >The field is completely black in it's resting state and radiates absorbed energy outwards as a perfect black body.
      So what happens to the information/entropy of the absorbed energy? You realize that making information disappear breaks unitary in quantum state evolution, which is as bad as, say, violating mass-energy conservation? Did Niven just ignore the immense research effort to determine how black holes don’t actually violate this principle? Not surprising from an author, who is a degenerate pervert whose writing contains multiple passages of weird alien sex, fucking incel loser like you

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        unitarity*

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I think your autism is beyond what most people care about in their scifi.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          The majority of scifi is empty space opera fantasy schlock, yes. Good hard sci fi is rare and the domain of hardcore autists.

  4. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If you mash any more science buzz words together, you would get another impressive copy pasta. Don't quit your day job. Plasma weapons are not feasible in the atmosphere and likely won't be effective in space. Muh electromagnets are a pathetic handwave. It won't work in open air or in open space.

  5. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    you can just pump lasers with uranium vapor for practical relative weaponry

  6. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    plasma cannons are still in development for civilian fusion energy, helion reactors are basically two plasma cannons firing deuterium and tritium rings at each other

  7. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    You could make it a SPASER to and move your tungsten to the front. Sort of like what your getting at, but not really. Plasma-esque though

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I'll look into that, I have a faction with some crazy laser weapons so that might be a good stand in. When I wrote the book, my premise was space pirates fighting the space UN because the space UN used their home station as a weapons test. That led to me wanting a ship that fired hard projectiles in an age of lasers and missiles for the "full broadside!". My protagonist ship is essentially a heavily angled diamond with top and bottom gun turrets shooting fuck you incendiary shells because they are cheaper than an 8000g acceleration missile.

      The book is really a frankenstein of World War Two Space Edition™, the modern missile and aircraft spam, and age of sail boarding actions. It is purely my own blend of naval autism and I have a soft spot for marines, carrier aviation, and big gun warships. I haven't published yet, as I'm fucking broke and don't want to sign a deal with the devil (Amazon) but the name is going to be Black Skies: Corsair

  8. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I to watched this guy's video:

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      That video has popped up in my recommended, but I never watched it. I also didn't read The Expanse or watch the show until I had finished the second draft of my book. I'm still fucking pissed about the railgun shrapnel shells, because all my nerdy friends asked me if I had watched the show due to this scene, even though I'd never seen any other IP do shrapnel shells for railguns before. Obviously spoilers for the Expanse in that video.

      ?t=295

  9. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I've a weakness for CJ Cherryh's Alliance-Union setting.
    It's not really directed energy weapons, but everyone exits hyperspace at VERY high speeds and has to do multiple braking jumps to bleed down to more reasonable velocities. When you're going C-fractional, literally anything you do will be a kill shot. Anyone who's at rest is at the mercy of anyone who has incoming velocity, because the delta V advantage is insane.

    It gets worse when you account for not all species being able to handle hyperspace awake. Humans have to be asleep when they jump or Bad Things happen to them.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >When you're going C-fractional, literally anything you do will be a kill shot. Anyone who's at rest is at the mercy of anyone who has incoming velocity, because the delta V advantage is insane.
      It works both ways. If you can hit them, they can probably hit you. And the effect would be exactly the same

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >if you can hit them they can probably hit you
        Not at high fractions of c, they literally can't traverse a laser turret fast enough to hit you unless you're headed straight towards them.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Doesn't matter. Just means you won't be able to hit them either. Unless you plan on ramming them

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Assume you and a sublight target are about ten seconds apart.

            You have potential locations of something like .1 C * 10 seconds for where you could be when you pass each other.
            They have potential locations of like, 1km/s * 10 s for where they could possibly be when you pass each other. One of those is a much, much vaster area of space.

  10. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Does anyone know something about macron/colloid weapons? It looks like a hybrid between kinetic and particle beam weapon.

  11. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Casaba Howitzer
    Actually feasible AFAIK

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I think the biggest issue with that idea is just being able to utilize it, I mean, how the hell do you contain a nuclear blast in such a way to have a reusable facility? even if you are using a small yield bomb. I mean yeah if it is actually fairly cheap to just build a new firing platform, and fallout isn't an issue, building a bunch of firing sites might be reasonable, especially in some sort of surface to orbit application to shoot down ayylmaos. If you attach it to a space ship as intended, I have a feeling that the same issue mentioned by

      I remember the bugs in Stars at War used bomb pumped lasers. Humans were perplexed as to why a tiny percentage of ayy ships just exploded with no discernible reason. Eventually they figured out from salvage that the bomb chamber very occasionally failed and the bugs just thought that was an acceptable loss rate.

      would crop up quite often.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >I think the biggest issue with that idea is just being able to utilize it, I mean, how the hell do you contain a nuclear blast in such a way to have a reusable facility?
        The bomb goes outside the ship, and uses charge shaping to direct the boom. That's how the Orion drive and Casaba Howitzer would have done it.

  12. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Schlock Mercenary had Gravy (gravatic) weapons that are just an outcrop of the normal gravatic manipulation your ship does to give you pleasant onboard artificial gravity or inertial compensation.
    It can also, if your system is powerful enough and the AI controlling your ship is up to snuff, be used as a weapon. Throw things around, crush smaller ships, blah blah blah.
    If your AI is REALLY powerful you can use it to manipulate individual people on board your ship.

    It also has long guns, plasma beams that fire through fleeting, created-per-shot wormholes. Your gun can hit any target in the galaxy you can locate. There is no defense, because the other end of the wormhole can open inside your shields, or even inside your ship. Or office. Or bedroom. The only defense is being completely unhooked from the galactic communications network, AND not being seen by any kind of scouting or recon element.

    It's also, while not an energy weapon, neat that controlled gravatics and energy weapons basically smash 'air power' and 'armor' into the same category. Tanks/planes are basically one category when your tank can fly and your plane can carry whatever armor you want on it.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Oh and I'm dumb. I forgot the more obvious gravy weapons, ie, 'let's shoot a pulse of really intense gravity into a target and see what it fucks up"
      turns out 500Gs will pulp most crewmembers, almost regardless of species.

  13. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Slightly off topic i know, but this is the closest thread i could find to it. Yesterday a kind gentleman answered my question on chemical lasers and why they are not used anymore. But i had a thought today. Is there any way you can use special gas or something similarly Hispanicer than the normal gases used to get more damage? Or is there no way forwards to this and battletech chemical lasers are just battletech magic?

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Hispanicier means even more of a bitch to store, which is the bigger problem with chemical lasers anyways

      might as well spray the enemy with concentrated nitric acid stored in nice big vulnerable tanks

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Alright, but lets throw this a thousand years into the future, with miniaturization, storage advancement, and whatnot. Is there a point where the math just gives you diminishing returns, no matter how future super Hispanicy you make your gas/liquid mix, or, if you manage to make the system work despite the hazards involved, do you get more bang for your buck?

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          can you make an antimatter pumped laser? probably

          should you? probably not, if for no other reason than antimatter containment is instantly and violently fail-deadly

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Isn't that any weapon?
            the difference between a thousand pound bomb failing and an antimatter weapon equivalent to a thousand pound bomb is that one of those is going to be way smaller. You're dead either way if your magazine cooks off, or if you were in hugging distance when it happened.

            • 2 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              A dumb iron bomb won't explode unless it's provoked. Antimatter needs active containment by high power magnets 24/7.

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Hoh man. I was thinking more along the lines of 'we found a laser gas equivalent of tibanna gas sir.'

            lets get to flying cars first, space pew pew later.

            It's been over thirty years where is my goddamn moon house.

            Buuuuut at least jetpacks and hoverboards are in development...

  14. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    lets get to flying cars first, space pew pew later.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I guarantee the Space Force will strap a laser to Starship before flying cars become widespread

  15. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    MAC rounds, in atmosphere?

  16. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Reading through your idea, I don’t see the purpose of putting a plasma ball around something already moving at the 0.1C that alone will impart with enough kinetic energy to pretty much devastate whatever it hits. As for ignition of atmosphere in a vessel I’d image it’ll be protocol for all ship combat to be in a vac suit with supplied oxygen. This is to prevent that exact issue and prevent rapid depressurization from killing the crew outright should they take a nasty shot. Lasers will probably be the most viable since there is no atmosphere to have to fight through and attenuation through a vacuum is pretty easy. Ironically it is countered pretty easy by just casting sand/ground rock into its path. Though all of that material will take up considerable mass and you’d have to be casting it in-front of you since you’d be in constant state of motion/orbit. Space combat that we’d see in our possible lifetime would most likely be ground/aircraft based rocket systems taking out satellites. The issue you run into is once you have enough detentions occur it’ll take years if not decades for the debris to fall into atmosphere and disintegrate before you can safely re-establish satellites or send rockets up for whatever other task. If you’re bouncing around ideas for a hard sci-fi book you really have to base your tech off of what stage propulsion technology there is available as that will help dictate which weapon systems are viable. Also please remember if you’re using torpedoes they will all most likely be fusion bomb tipped as space is huge and detentions like those are nothing in the overall battle space. Another thing to consider is sensors/stealth technology as in tried and true fashion you can hit what you can’t see.

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