If you grew up reading comic books about space heroes, or watched television shows such as ‘Flash Gordon,’ or the 1966-1969 ‘Star Trek,’ you marveled at the weapons of the future; how light from a ‘space gun’ could destroy everything from space ships to people. These light or laser weapons are no longer science fiction.
China announced today that it has developed and tested a laser weapon which can shoot down small drones from as far away as two kilometers, (just under one-and-one-half miles). After locating a target, it can be fired in five seconds. Sources privy to the tests said that 30 drones were successfully destroyed; there were no missed targets.
The only means to bring down a drone previously were helicopters or snipers; their success rate was unacceptable.
In June the United States Marine Corps announced that it had developed a laser weapon to be mounted on Humvees and other light weight vehicles. The named it GBAD, which stands for ‘Ground Based Air Defense.’
The United States is expecting other nations to increase their drone use. They believe the Department of the Navy has developed just such a weapon. Tests as of this date have been successful detecting and tracking several types of light aircraft.
The Navy has mounted a weapons grade laser on the USS Ponce. I will be tested at sea. The weapon has already proven to be useful destroying small boats and aircraft.
Tests will take place on 10 kilowatt lasers later this year or early in 2015. A much more powerful 30 kilowatt laser will be tested in 2016.
By James Turnage