The United States Army has announced it will begin testing a laser weapon that is capable of burning through helicopters, drones and aircraft. The laser technology has been around for the past six decades, but the Army is hoping to have it operational by 2020. The weapons are to be mounted on four Stryker vehicles.
The 50-kilowatt laser weapon is to be used in testing for Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) mission. According to the Daily Mail, the laser weapon is so powerful it could power numerous homes.
As the technology for airborne weapons continues to advance, the Army is looking to get ahead of the curve with a laser weapon that will make most aircraft obsolete. Originally, the laser weapon was to be mounted on various aircraft, but after testing it was too heavy and it was impossible to get a clear shot when firing the laser.
The Stryker vehicles have eight wheels, making it much more reliable and able to carry the laser and withstand any shaking it could cause when firing.
Lieutenant General L. Neil Thurgood, who is the Director of Hypersonics, acknowledged it’s now time to unveil such weapons.
“The time is now to get directed energy weapons to the battlefield. The Army recognizes the need for directed energy lasers as part of the Army’s modernisation plan,” he said in a U.S. Army report.
“This is no longer a research effort or a demonstration effort. It is a strategic combat capability, and we are on the right path to get it in Soldiers’ hands.”
Dr. Craig Robin, who is a research scientist for the Army, explained we have finally caught up to the technology to make this weapon possible.
“Both the Army and commercial industry have made substantial improvements in the efficiency of high energy lasers — to the point where we can get militarily significant laser power onto a tactically relevant platform.”
If 2020 is the targeted date for this weapon to make its grand entrance, then it seems we’re only a few years away from Star Wars.