Ronald Reagan was all about promoting the idea of Star Wars laser weapons with the capacity to shoot down incoming ICBM weapons, Soviet Bombers or anything else that was deemed a threat. The Space Race and Cold War was in full blossom and coming to an end, mainly because of the USSR running out of money and efficiently imploding trying to keep up. Back then, we didn’t have laser weapons, but desired them, much was a bluff, but shortly, these laser weapon systems will be everywhere and used for all sorts of uses. Let us talk shall we?
Not long ago, I was interviewed about the future of advanced laser weapon systems. Daniel the interviewer asks;”Do you think we shall see laser weapons? Why?”
Yes, and in the US we’re really already there, now onto the challenge of miniaturization. Perhaps building a little laser system the size of a small refrigerator to fit in the bomb bay of an F-35 or F-22 and I have no doubt that will happen within 5-10 years, great for our allies who purchase our stealthy F-35, but awful for any and all adversaries. We’re working on a smaller system mounted on truck and Humvee, we have proven concept.
In the USA we also have boat mounted laser weapons devices for protection also. In the near future perhaps a hand-held device, no not like a Star Trek Phaser, but more like a larger version of an assault rifle. There are still challenges with these types of weapons like air-density and the sort of laser in airborne applications. In addition, the power needed, particularly in the event of man-portable units. Another challenge is that the time required on goal for a good kill when using lasers to defend against swarm attack.
Laser weapons don’t make sense for every niche in the battlespace or future battlespaces, but they’re viable nevertheless. It could be the science fiction loving minds of investigators or our passion for Star Wars which continues to guarantee the financing for such things. Cash strapped nations should consider costs of these systems, and they will.
The US has many allies who would love to have those systems, and BAE and many others are working on systems of their own now. The Russians have a research program too, and the Chinese too, yes, much of it is borrowed tech, got to love the spy world and cyber hackers – it seems nowadays Top Secret = 1 Month, and then there’s WikiLeaks, you know how it is?
Fortunately, these systems are tough to engineer, tough to produce, and hard to get right – but people are the smartest of the planet’s primates, and every nation with an advanced military has rounded up their best 150 IQ, Human+ scientists to work on such projects. For now however, it’s a matter of getting the most bang (zap) for the buck.