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Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

Posted July 20, 2011 9:53 AM

Looking at the Senate Armed Services Committee's decision to terminate the U.S. Navy's Free-Electron Laser program, is that penny wise and pound foolish? If you want to develop next-generation weapons and technology, you have to start, well, now. If we focus purely on practicality, we run the risk of falling behind. Where do you think we should put our defense and R&D dollars? And do you think the rest of the military laser weapon programs are going to suffer the same fate as the Navy's did?

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#1

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/20/2011 11:10 AM

Is some idiot still playing with laser weapons?
More money than sense, and we wonder why the economy is down the Swanee.
Del

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/20/2011 11:36 PM

"Where do you think we should put our defense and R&D dollars?"

Back in the pockets of the taxpayers.... and while you are at it, pay some back for the last 30 years of cancerous military spending.

Chris

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#2

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/20/2011 3:38 PM

That program would be very useful mounted on killer satellites, to kill both the satellites and missiles of other countries..........if it weren't for those pesky (and cheap and VERY effective) EMP weapons. My opinion, lasers are obsolete before R&D is even complete.

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#3

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/20/2011 4:14 PM

Ohhh Cmon now, they have had lasers since the 70's... I mean, look at Starwars for example. We just need to consult Hollywood.

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#5

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 2:26 AM

So that means that we figure the Chinese won't be able to develop that technology either? ........Ed W

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#6
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 2:45 AM

Little green men little yellow men...whatever...

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#7

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 6:49 AM

Lasers are so out of date, the money should be used to back up the American economy, not spent on some nefarious military hardware!

Spencer

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#8

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 7:39 AM

I've got an idea.

Let's use conventional weapons to wipe out the terrorists, (which we can't seem to do). Then we can use some of the saved money from not fighting two oops three wars, (forgot about Libya), to invest in laser research, space telescopes, paying off our debt, education.....................................................

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#10
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 2:13 PM

You're way too practical for this forum...or politics...

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#12
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 4:20 PM

I've been accused of a lot of things on here. Being practical is definitely not one that has ever come up.

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#9

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 1:59 PM

The failure to plan & invest on future defense technologies based on present short term, short sighted conditions makes it almost certain that we will face increased future risks to our security. One only needs to look at history. The best defense is an intimidating offense that never has to be used.

Giving peace a chance makes for a good idyllic song title, but not a very practical approach unless the dark side of human nature can be magically transformed.

Our military (and government as a whole) needs to cut expenses back to sustainable levels, but it is the roll out expenses that breaks the budget - not the research.

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#11

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 3:37 PM

Why do the Navy need any more money for research? They can spend $300 million to build two ships that never get even launched to then spend more money for them to be scrapped. The Navy even scraps their $195 million research vessels. Why does the Navy need any more research money if they're just going to scrap it?

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#14
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 5:01 PM

You do have a point that the Navy (other than aircraft carriers) has become a decreasing necessity in the most recent global threats and their role should be probably diminished. I also think it is not fair to haul out old research failures without also covering their past successes. I would not be surprised if the Navy was presently researching faster, more nimble craft for greater range and quick strike force as well as weapons to combat terrorism and piracy.

After all, research often has high risks and is not always successful (for the military, medical or any other entity). Experimental trials are not always fully functional or useful. Does that mean it should all be eliminated?

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#17
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 11:45 PM

Who said that this research ship was a failure, not me? Finding out that a plausible concept is not practical or effective is not a failure, unless you you have no idea why its not practical or effective.

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#18
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 8:21 AM

Sorry - I misread your aversion to scrapped vessels as a reason to de-fund Naval research.

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#19
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 9:23 AM

I'm starting to think that you're deliberately misreading my comments or that we speak different languages. My aversion is to taking two brand new vessels to be dismantled at the US Navy's (our) expense during a time that the US cannot balance the budget. I'm stunned that these nearly complete vessels could not be used for something. I'm also stunned that the Sea Shadow could not be used somehow in today's world. Possibly it could stealthily patrol pirate waters, like off of the coast of Somalia. I understand that scrap may actually be the most cost effective thing to do with all three of these vessels, but when the military appears to waste a third of a billion dollars somebody should question it.

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#21
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 10:12 AM

We may speak different languages, and I may sometimes misunderstand, but it is unnecessary to personally attack my character by accusing me of deliberately misreading your comments.

I don't disagree with your questioning the waste (God knows there is tons more that the examples you cite). I was just commenting on and attempting to answer your statement "Why does the Navy need any more research money if they're just going to scrap it?"

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#23
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 11:22 AM

Please excuse me for making what you consider the offensive remark of deliberately misunderstanding me. I stride to not offend anyone accidentally. I did not intend my comment to be offensive. You should recognize that criticizing my words for things that I did not say is offensive. My question that you cite as what you were attempting to answer contains the critical conditional clause "... if they're just going to scrap it?" Your "answer" and subsequent responses repeatedly inserted concepts that I did not state, and that I believe that I did not imply. So I offered the two plausible reasons that occurred to me for these extraneous conclusions as an effort in improving communication.

Right now, I'm very tempted to demonstrate how offended I am with words that cannot be mistaken as anything but a personal attack. But this will be point less exercise that won't even make me feel better after I'm done.

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#24
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 1:53 PM

I also try not to offend anyone accidentally and also not on purpose. I apologized for my error in what I believed was a clear implication (no funding for research because of past scrap waste).

If you will not advise my "words that can not be mistaken as anything but a personal attack", that is my loss. The point would be to help to me better understand and communicate. If that would not make you feel better, that is your loss.

You probably do not recall, but I originally joined CR4 as a result of a response from you for me to share the method I used to calculate coil windings of solenoid actuators. I would never intentionally try to offend you or anyone else for that matter, even if they were clearly mistaken or never gave a GA. I have always respected you, your superior technical GAs and most of your opinions.

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#25
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 3:29 PM

Well at the very least I've been able to vent some personal frustrations. I hold no grudge against you, my friend, and I thank you for allowing me to vent.

I feel that I owe you and anyone who has followed this little spat a better explanation why this particular fiscal waste has hit me so personally. As you may know, I work at one of the Government funded scientific research facilities. There is a real possibility that I might get furloughed in one week if Congress doesn't stop playing like spoiled children. I'll admit that it is a very remote possibility but a real possibility none the less. Now if you look at the DOE 2001 total Science budget (page 15, $5,121 million) you'll see that these three new or innovative scrapped vessels cost about 10% of my organization's entire total budget. With one week to go before the US defaults on bills already budgeted, I hear time and again that the military spending will not be cut but everything else is up for the chopping block.

Now in the middle of this political carnival, this blog pops up questioning if the Navy is correct to cut their FEL program. Well part of my control circuitry controls a FEL in another building that's part of our source development lab. The scientists that work on this machine regularly publish to the public their results and conclusions for good or bad. Wisely, the Navy publishes to the public virtually nothing about their research, particularly their real failures. If the Navy wishes to drop this research project, great let them.

So unlike several people on the outside of government spending that lament about government waste, I'm on the inside. Unlike others that lament the cutting of Science budgets from the outside, I'm on the inside. I work hard to keep my projects under budget. Sometimes I have to struggle greatly with scientists over the difference between possible, plausible and realizable.

I again thank you for letting me vent on the absurdity and magnitude of money the Navy wasted on at least two of these scrapped vessels. I'm also certain that nobody intended to waste this money and that there's probably more to the story than my links tell.

I hope you can forgive me for my rant.

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#26
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 5:43 PM

Forgiven in an instant my friend, and I whole totally agree with your frustrations. You can vent on me any time, just give me a so I understand. The waste is tough to swallow even when budgets are not on the chopping block.

I have product going into a NAVSEA shipboard (sub) communication system that may cause me to lay off more of my people if it is cut. Not that this would be as personally painful as your potential situation. Here's hoping your program survives the Washington insanity.

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#13

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 5:00 PM

And do you think the rest of the military laser weapon programs are going to suffer the same fate as the Navy's did?

I sure hope so

It all sounds like an antique road show. It's over, stop being in denial! Your kind is not needed in the 21st century. It was never needed before but now we have 100 years of proof that weapons are the pimple cream for failed diplomacy. Get over it!

I wish my grand children will not have to put up with this waste, Ky.

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#15
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 5:11 PM

.........so we should have better negotiated with Hitler? He used "successful negotiations" to gain military advantage and it cost the world millions of lives. Deterrence beats negotiations every time. What % of your GDP goes to defense?

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#16
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/21/2011 6:01 PM

What % of your GDP goes to defense?

I'm aware that you are not really interested but here you go.

http://www.defence.gov.au/minister/49tpl.cfm?CurrentId=5604

Hitler was one of those pimples and the reason he was there... well... that's what I call the antique road show.

Deterrence beats negotiations every time.

Yeah and not to forget that it keeps the military industrial complex calling the shots.

Thank you for considering such a diplomatic response, Ky.

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#20
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Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 9:35 AM

Very diplomatic of you to assume that I asked a question whose answer I was not interested. You may not want to plan a career in your State Department. No offense intended, I was just trying to understand your perspective from a country different than mine. Also, thanks for not answering, but it is OK - I looked it up.

In rough numbers (your GDP about $882B) it appears to be about .05% ($.5B) and heading to about .5% ($4B), correct? We here in the USA should be so lucky! Ours is about 20% of our GDP (about the same each as for Social Security, or Medicare/Medicaid, or "discretionary"). Our GDP per capita numbers are about the same (47M vs.40M), so I can now see why your country's planned steep increases could be upsetting. I don't understand your risks, so I can't judge the need for the increases. I could be wrong, but even at .5% I just don't think you need to worry about your "military industrial complex calling the shots".

I could not find a definition of "antique road show". Does it mean something old being shown as an example? I happen to believe the saying that "those who ignore the past lessons of history are doomed to repeat the failures". Defense planning & research, is not for the everyday needs and risks, but for the "pimples" in history that cause horrendous pain and suffering if not attended to before they can infect the world. No need to demean my example of why diplomacy does not always work, and if the UN is any example it does not seem to be working much at all.

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#22

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/22/2011 11:03 AM

I think the army should offer a prize to anyone who can come up with a practical military application for the FEL.

While they are waiting for that insight, the prize money should be freely used for something else - whether pragmatic or innovative, at minimum, for something that has not already been proven utterly impractical.

The FEL itself could be housed in a museum of public spending along with an inexpensive placard stating the public offer of the prize.

If kept in its original condition, it could still be accessed by military requisition at great need, in other words, in the event that we should find ourselves facing an enemy so localized, immobile, slow to react and defenseless as to make it feasible to position the FEL in range of the target. For obvious reasons, it is not recommended that the museum be located within range of the White House, Fort Knox, Pentagon, etcetera.

As for concerns about yellow or green men with opportunity to get ahead with their own FEL, the threat is forestalled by the fact that they too, are subject to the laws of physics...

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#27

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

07/24/2011 2:44 AM

Both.

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#28

Can of Worms

07/27/2011 9:28 PM

This question, as obvious from the replies so far, just opens a can of worms.

On top of what all these engineers are saying about the relative foolishness of laser weaponry, depending on DOD for useful defense research, etc., you have the whole issue of what national security and prosperity really depend on.

And in addition to the above, there are rumblings from more esoteric circles that all is not as it appears, particularly when it comes to what the DOD really knows and really does.

In short there is a certain consensus these days that there are a lot of government entities, DOD included, that don't deserve more funding until they start to level with the public that pays the taxes. But do we the public really want to know the truth?

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#29

Re: Should Funding Go to Basic or Near-term Research?

08/07/2011 1:07 AM

funding should go near-term, but the FEL laser should be like a "manhattan-project", because it may be the ONLY thing, that will prevent a Sino-Soviet nuclear missle strike on the USA military/communications,involving over 3,000 warheads and killing as many as 60 million outright! This is supposed to happen as soon as we go to war with Iran, so it may be sooner than we'd like. With no USA military the CR4 site would NOT exist, except as a display of Western decadence in some "people's museum". All you guys are saying, "Absurd", because we'd retaliate! As missle locations come in, to retaliate, we will NEED the USA "launch codes", which I'm guessing will be with the president, except that HE...will...be...UNAVAILABLE, so OUR retalitory missles will NEVER BE LAUNCHED, thanks to our "Manchurian (--alright Kenyan)-Candidate" excuse of a cheif executive! This has some off-topic phrases, possibly.

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