‘Star Wars’ meets reality? Military testing laser weapons
Five decades after the creation of the laser, the ubiquitous technology of the modern era may be ready to serve up that Star Wars science-fiction staple: the laser blaster.
Advances in the technology have made it possible for military testers to shoot down incoming mortar rounds with land-based lasers, and military commanders are on the verge of being able to fire laser blasts from the air that could be aimed at tanks or mines.
“We literally are the invisible death ray, let me tell you,” says Mike Rinn of Boeing‘s Airborne Laser Program in Seattle, a missile- defense effort, one among dozens of Defense Department-supported “directed energy” programs run by military contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
“This beam is invisible to the naked eye; you can’t see it.”