June 2, 2012
The Wisdom Fund

A Note on the Technical Feasibility of the Destruction of World Trade Center 1 and 2 by a Directed Energy Weapon

by Enver Masud

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Some in the 9/11 truth movement have advanced the theory that directed energy weapons (DEW) were used to destroy World Trade Center 1 and 2. Before one entertains this theory, one must determine if this is technically feasible.

For example, if I were to state that I will transport 1000 people, 3000 miles, in my BMW z3 Coupe, in one week, it would immediately be obvious that this is not technically feasible.

Similarly, when one considers the possibility of directed energy weapons having been used to destroy World Trade Center 1 and 2, a little research (between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM last night) shows that this too is not technically feasible.

The goal of the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System, launched following a research breakthrough by DARPA in 2003, was to fabricate and demonstrate a system with an output power of 15 kW. "Based on the results of this demonstration, additional laser modules [would] be developed... to produce a 150 kW laser weapon system demonstrator."

The Defense Science Board Task Force on Directed Energy Weapons in its December 2007 report proposed 1-3 MW (i.e. 1000 to 3000 kW) Free Electron Laser prototype in 2020.

Note that a few years after the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, directed energy weapons of the order of 15kW, to 3000 kW by the year 2020, were targets for development. A 15 kW system was yet to be "fabricated and demonstrated".

Could a 15 kW directed energy weapon (not yet developed in 2001) have brought down the World Trade Center?

To put this in perspective, "Measurements show a house will occasionally use as much as 15 kilowatts for short intervals".

In other words, the 15 kW directed energy weapon (not yet developed in 2001) is equivalent to the maximum demand for a typical house. Even a 3000 kW directed energy weapon (a target for 2020) would be equivalent to the maximum demand for 200 homes.

One doesn't need to do any calculation to conclude that directed energy weapons available in 2001 were not sufficient to bring down the World Trade Center. Even directed energy weapons targeted for development by 2020 would not be sufficient to bring down the World Trade Center.

Therefore, one may safely conclude that a directed energy weapon having been used to destroy World Trade Center 1 and 2 is not technically feasible.

Questions for proponents of the DEW theory:
What is the required size (MW, physical) of the DEW?
What was the source of energy for the DEW?
Where was the DEW placed?
What is the source of your information?
Why should this source be considered reliable?

"World's First Ray Gun Shoots Down Missile,", June 7, 2000

[Studies and scaling experiments have shown that a liter of a missile's material can be destroyed in a few seconds with 1 MW of laser power. One liter corresponds to a hole with the dimension 10cm x 10cm x 10cm which is generally enough to structurally disable the missile. Missile destruction can be achieved in different by an explosion of the missile warhead, or an aerodynamic instability causing the missile to breakup.--Konstantinos Polykandriotis, "Simulations of the Proposed TJNAF 100kw Free Electron Laser and Comparison With TJNAF Low Power Experiments," Naval Postgraduate School Thesis, December 2001]

[Spectres can circle targets for hours, pulverising areas the size of football pitches with extraordinary precision.--Sean Rayment, "America's laser of death cleared for take-off,", February 17, 2002]

[Whether Tesla's idea was ever taken seriously is still a matter of conjecture. Most experts today consider his idea infeasible. . . .

In 1958 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated a top-secret project code-named "Seesaw" at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to develop a charged-particle beam weapon. More than ten years and twenty-seven million dollars later, the project was abandoned "because of the projected high costs associated with implementation as well as the formidable technical problems associated with propagating a beam through very long ranges in the atmosphere." . . .

In the late 1970s, there was fear that the Soviets may have achieved a technological breakthrough. Some U.S. defense analysts concluded that a large beam weapon facility was under construction near the Sino-Soviet border in Southern Russia.

The American response to this "technological surprise" was the Strategic Defense Initiative announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. . . .

Today, after a half-century of research and billions of dollars of investment, the SDI program is generally considered a failure--"A Weapon to End War," PBS

[One major problem with laser weapons . . . is their high electric energy requirements. . . .

This problem could also be lessened if the weapon were mounted either at a defensive position near a power plant, or on board a large, possibly nuclear powered, water-going ship. A ship would have the advantage of water for cooling.--"Directed- energy weapon," Wikipedia]

[The three primary technologies being followed as direct energy weapons include Lasers, Millimeter Waves, and Microwaves. . . . The Department of Defense (DoD) does not currently advertise the development of any weaponized microwave systems, however developmental experiments continue. . . .

The Status of Futures Index or SOFI is one method used in future studies to help predict the path of already existing technologies. . . .

The Navy currently fields an HPM system designed to counter Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs). The Navy's Neutralizing IEDs with RF (NIRF) system is currently in use in Iraq.

. . . HPMs are most useful against electronics,

. . . like chemical lasers it takes multiple truckloads of equipment to generate that level of power. The US Air Force High Powered Microwave device, Shiva Star, can generate 1 terawatt of power. However Shiva Star is a test machine only. Mobile, single shot weapons can generate over 10 Gigawatts, but only have a range of about 500m. . . .

In all the SoFI indications for the current trajectory of Direct Energy Weapons is positive, but does not indicate a major shift to DE from Blast/Frag before the year 2035.--Chadwick F. Fager, "Weaponeering the Future: Direct Energy Weapons Effectiveness Now and Tommorow," Air War College, November 10-16, 2007]

Gregory S. Jenkins and Matt Sullivan, "The Overwhelming Implausibility of Using Directed Energy Beams to Demolish the World Trade Center Towers,", April 12, 2007

[The modeling and test results showed that the metal hydride system can store the average heat of 4.4kW during the heat storage period of 250 seconds and release the stored heat during the subsequent regeneration period of 900 seconds.--Joseph Gottschlich and Quinn Leland, "Metal Hydride Heat Storage Technology for Directed Energy Weapon Systems," Air War College, April 2007]

[Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are the heir-apparent to lead-acid and NiCd batteries in many aircraft applications. They are available in several different chemistries and can be classified as either high power or high energy batteries. High power Li-ion batteries have high power density (1500 W/kg), moderate energy density (70 Wh/kg), and reasonable cycle life (2000).--Christopher Eiting, "QynCap Energy Storage Device for Airborne Directed Energy Weapons," Qynergy Corporation, xxx]

[IPG Photonics - US-based world leader in high-power fiber lasers - currently markets a 50-kilowatt fiber laser with over 25 percent efficiency. In comparison, the Department of Defense's Joint High Power Solid State Laser program demonstrated a 100- kilowatt-class laser--David Scott and David Robie, "Directed Energy: A Look to the Future," Air & Space Power Journal , December 1, 2009]

[DEW laser weapon could generate high-energy pulses of 25kW, capable enough to destroy a ballistic missile in its terminal phase within the range of 7km.--"India Develops Anti-Missile Weapons,", August 10, 2010]

[Currently, the free-electron laser project produces the most-powerful beam in the world. If it gets up to its ultimate goal, of generating a megawatt's worth of laser power, it'll be able to burn through 20 feet of steel per second.

. . . the Navy doesn't yet have the systems to divert the amount of power from its ships' generators necessary to operate the laser, but anticipates it will by the 2020s.

There are still a lot of obstacles to getting the free-electron laser onto a ship. The 240-foot racetrack that Neil built at Jefferson Labs - a scale model of one that's underground here, seven-eighths-of-a-mile long - is way too big. Boeing has a contract to build an initial workable prototype by 2012, but by 2015 the racetrack has to be much, much smaller: 50 feet by 20 feet by 10 feet.--Spencer Ackerman, "Unexpectedly, Navy's Superlaser Blasts Away a Record,", February 18, 2011]

[All this means that it's not possible, or indeed meaningful, to say exactly what would be needed in terms of design or cost to get this idea to work. But Vasile and Maddock do manage to establish that if, say, we discovered in ten years time that Apophis really was going to strike, it should be possible to implement a strategy like this based more or less on the technologies already to hand, without any fear of bankrupting the economy.--Philip Ball, "Laser treatment for Earth-bound asteroids," BBC News, June 22, 2012]

[The system, which uses two laser weapons, was also used to cut through a steel girder more than a mile away. . . .

The 50kW laser weapons system used radar and optical systems to detect and track two incoming drones--"Rheinmetall demos laser that can shoot down drones," BBC News, January 8, 2013]

[The idea is to get a laser cannon weighing less than 2500 pounds mounted onto a Marine Humvee or comparable truck. The cannon needs to provide a "minimum optical output power" of 25 kilowatts, with an eye toward scaling up to 50 kilowatts, for a two-minute full-power blast.--Spencer Ackerman, "Navy Wants Lasers on Marines' Trucks to Shoot Down Drones,", March 28, 2013]

[ . . . a key step to eventually scale up to a megawatt's worth of power, which can burn through 20 feet of steel in a second.--Spencer Ackerman, "Watch Navy's New Laser Cannon, Mounted on a Ship, Kill a Drone,", April 8, 2013]

[Will emit a short laser burst with an intensity of 1023 watts per square centimetre . . . Laser bursts will last only 1/100,000th of a billionth of a second--Mark Prigg, "The real-life DEATH STAR: US researchers developing laser 100,000 times more powerful than all of Earth's power stations combined,", February 5, 2014] [sic]

"China unveils anti-drone laser weapon able to shoot down 'small aircraft' within 5 seconds,", November 14, 2014

[The laser is mounted facing the bow, and can be fired in several modes - from a dazzling warning flash to a destructive beam - and can set a drone or small boat on fire.--Mark Prigg, "U.S. Navy Deploys Its First Laser Weapon in the Persian Gulf,", November 14, 2014]

[But in June, the company delivered a 150-kilowatt liquid laser to the Pentagon for extensive testing . . . For comparison, the 30 kw laser (output) currently on the Ponce in the Persian Gulf has more than enough output to destroy an enemy drone or blow a hole in a boat.--Patrick Tucker, "Drones Armed With High-Energy Lasers May Arrive In 2017,", September 23, 2015]

"Russia tests 'unrivaled' new radio-electronic weapon,", October 23, 2016

Bill Gertz, "Light war: space-based lasers among Beijing's high-tech arms,", March 10, 2017

["Our ultimate goal is to have a 100KW laser on a vehicle."--Jon Skillings, "Laser weapons see some light progress,", March 18, 2017]

Andrew Eversden, "Lockheed Martin delivers 300-kilowatt laser to Defense Department,", September 16, 2022

US $Billions LASER Aircraft Carrier Is Ready To Beat China, February 5, 2023

Gabriel Honrada, "China's new microwave weapon made to zap Taiwan,", February 12, 2024

Images of Directed Energy Weapons

MORE: "What Really Happened on September 11, 2001," The Wisdom Fund

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