Trending News: Why The U.S. Army Is Betting On Lasers As The Future Of Warfare
Long Story Short
Real-life star wars just got a whole lot closer as the U.S. Army revealed it’s testing high-energy laser cannons on Apache attack helicopters and military vehicles.
From Star Wars to Austin Powers, laser beams have been prophesized as the weapon of the future, but it’s 2017 and we’re still without frickin’ laser beams. What gives?
Sure, we’ve had lasers on weapons and helicopters for decades now — the Apache helicopter has had them since the first model developed back in the 1980s, reports Popular Mechanics. But we’ve never had laser beams that can explode sh*t. And we still don’t, but the U.S. Army is getting closer.
Defense contractor Raytheon just tested flying an Apache attack helicopter with laser cannons strapped to it, and it looks pretty terrifying.
But looks can be deceiving. The energy in the beam isn’t deadly. Although, according to Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concept and Technologies for Raytheon, “This data collection shows we’re on the right track.”
To perform the test, “Raytheon coupled a variant of the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, an advanced, electro-optical, infrared sensor, with a laser,” according to a press release.
The MTS allows the laser to find information about its target, be aware of the situation and channel the beam.
This demonstration came on the exact same day as another laser-related announcement from the U.S. Department of Defense. The other one, an announcement to include more laser weapons on vehicles and for training exercises.
So why is the U.S. so laser happy? First off, lasers are cheaper than missiles, as pointed out by Defense News. Second, lasers “would also increase the number of targets an Apache can take out in one mission.”
But Matthew Ketner, branch chief of the High Energy Laser Controls and Integration Directorate at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, put the usefulness of lasers most bluntly: “Unlike a traditional gun, lasers don’t run out of bullets.”
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How much will lasers destroy the infrastructure and landscape compared with traditional bullets?
Drop This Fact
A U.S. Army training exercise in 2016 demonstrated a 10-kilowatt laser successfully shooting down several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).