Design and Analysis of Megawatt Class Free Electron Laser Weapons
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States
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Free Electron Lasers FELs are desirable for defense against a spectrum of threats, especially in the maritime domain, due to their all-electric nature, their wavelength tunability to atmospheric propagation sweet-spots, and their scalability to megawatt class lasers. In this thesis, we exploit these characteristics to design, simulate, and analyze both amplifier and oscillator FELs using the FEL 4-D code developed by the Physics Directed Energy DE Group at the Naval Postgraduate School NPS. Propagation analysis is performed on the designs using the Atmospheric NPS Code for High Energy Laser Optical Propagation ANCHOR, also developed by the NPS Physics DE Group, to arrive at various lethality estimates that allow us to quantify the weapons effectiveness in its operating domain. We conclude that megawatt class FELs, while lacking in technological maturity, would provide an effective defense, especially against hardened, time-critical threats such as sub-sonic and super-sonic anti-ship missiles.