January 27, 2013

Ready, Aim, Phaser

LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and their use in the military is advancing fast. 

I am not just talking about things like laser sights mounted on assault rifles, but actual portable high energy laser weapons for taking out ships, planes, drones, rockets, mortars, and surface to air missiles. 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense Systems (HELLADS) is looking for smaller and lighter 150 kilowatt laser systems "enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats" and is powerful enough to destroy aircraft!

Just about all science fiction weaponry relies on lasers to fight and defeat the future enemy whether the phasers and disrupters from Star Trek, turbolasers and laser cannons on Star Wars, and laser torpedeos and blaster turrets in Battlestar Galactica. 

According to Mashable (27 January 2013) "this year liquid-cooled, solid-state laser weapons will be installed on fighter planes" for testing.

Fast Company (8 March 2012) points out the challenges with laser tracking and killing including clouds, haze, and dust that weaken the laser.  However, these challenges no longer seem insurmountable. 

All the talk on gun control is so 20th century, the real conversation for the new era will be on laser weapons and whether phasers should be set on stun or kill. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to UK Ministry of Defence)


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