All right, the title was a bit optimistic. Let’s say that “the corner” is ten years from now. Or maybe less. But the future is coming, with all the precision that we commonly associate to the word “laser“. Yes, this one is about laser. And about the way it will be used in the near future.
We already know stuff like laser pointers, about laser-aimed ammunitions and such. Just as we know about the use of different kinds of laser in fields like surgery, physics, astronomy and industry. My guess is that when you hear the word “laser” , your first thought is like that:
Well, sci-fi will arrive too. Now it’s the turn of something more near us. For instance, what about land mines? It’s a goddamn problem, a silent killer that goes on and on to destroy lives worldwide. The US armed forces are experimenting a laser weapon useful to destroy mines and unexploded ordnance (it’s called RABDO, Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordinance). The first units will be used to keep airport runways clear but it’s logical to presume a wider use as soon as more units became available.
Of course, there’s more. What about intercepting incoming missiles? I’m sure you already know all about the Israeli-built system Iron Dome but the problem is about the cost effectiveness of such defenses. If you have a good laser at your side you can stop spending 50,000 USD for each missile and start shooting down enemy stuff at few dollars a shot (not to mention the higher level of accuracy). It will happen before 2023.
The US Navy is experimenting laser cannon, first videos became available last year. The USS Ponce is able to tear down drones and small crafts using such a cannon. If you add to this the experimentation of a rail gun cannon and the more advanced stealth-oriented projects of the last decade… well, I guess that the US Navy is going strong on new technologies.
Earth, Sea, what’s next? Air! We’re still far from laser-armed interceptors but we’re near a curious wedding between an old warhorse like the AC-130 and one of the most recent laser cannons. The idea is using the AC-130 as a testbed for developing a laser pod, key to develop the next generation of fighters. And do not forget drones, UCAVs will become bigger in the next few years and a successor to the Predator with a laser pod is a serious threat. It will happen before 2023, too.
This is the start of a revolution. As soon as more laser cannon will be available more experimental vehicles will be on their way. Tank? Trucks? Helicopters? Name your favorite, it’s coming up. It’s a safe bet to write about infantry-oriented laser weapon system as soon as a new generation of batteries will be ready. Is it enough for you? No? All right, what about a force shield?
That will be very sci-fi, right? Well, in 2015 Boeing patented a device useful to deflect the shockwave of an explosion. Using a plasma shield to defend to vehicle where this device will be mounted. Read again. Plasma shield. The basic is about heating air or water to create plasma, only when needed and for the small time useful for achieve the protection. It’s still a shield in my opinion and it’s a big changer.
So the question is, are you ready?