Jon Lockett | The UK Sun | Source URL
The state-of-the-art weaponry has been the US Department of Defense’s dream for decades, but now has been deemed the time to make that dream a reality
THE Pentagon is to plough tens of millions into developing state-of-the-art laser weapons – to ensure it doesn’t lag behind Russia and China.
Army top brass have agreed to massively up their investment in directed-energy military systems, according to the US Department of Defense’s top technology adviser.
Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said he even expects to have usable directed-energy weaponry in the hands of combat fighters in “a few years.”
The weapons could be similar to China’s ZKZM-500 gun, which can “instantly carbonise” human skin and tissues, set a person on fire and make them feel “pain beyond endurance”.
That rifle weighs three kilos – about the same as an AK-47 – has a range of almost 1,000 yards and can be mounted on vehicles.
However, Griffin acknowledged the develpment of a fully-operational missile defence system could still be years off.
Concept art from Lockheed Martin shows the potential for directed energy weapons
The ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle can obliterate a target from almost 1,000 yards away, it is claimed
Directed-energy weaponry has been a dream for decades within the military
“You need another factor of three to four to have as space control weapon, a missile defense capability – space-based, boost-phase or midcourse capability – with a large directed-energy weapon,” he said.
“We need to be in the megawatt class to have that,” Griffin said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“That’s not right around the corner but that’s not utterly out of reach either. So you’re going to see in upcoming budgets for missile defense a renewed emphasis on laser scaling across several technologies because we feel we have to do that.”
Directed-energy weaponry has been a dream for decades within the department, but now it seems that dream is about to become a reality.
How do military laser weapons actually work?
Basically, lasers are a light source which creates only one wavelength of light.
Unlike a light bulb, the movement of the waves are synchronised so they don’t interfere with each other.
This light travels only in one direction and can be tightly focused – even over long distances.
Lasers and other directed-energy weapons have many advantages over conventional bullets and missiles because they can be precisely targeted.
A laser produces very intense energy that can travel over very long distances. That’s why a laser can become a weapon.
Their energy output can also be controlled so the military could use higher power to cause devastation or lower power for non-lethal outcomes.