Solid State Lasers Within Sight
After 40 years of work, the Pentagon may have a solid-state laser in its arsenal within a decade, reports the Oakland Tribune.
Compared to the chemical lasers now in use by America’s military, solid-state lasers would be compact and efficient – perhaps running off the engine of an Army Humvee or an Air Force F-16.
Solid-state lasers would also be deadly. In a recent demonstration at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ? one of three sites of research on a solid-state laser – a test-fired laser emitted 400 pulses of light in two seconds, drilling through an inch of steel, the Tribune reported.
Once fully developed, the Tribune reports, solid-state lasers could shoot down mortars and artillery shells, explode ordnance in enemy depots and even wipe out ballistic missiles 500 miles away. They would strike with incredible speed and could be retargeted instantly.
Contrary to science fiction, the lasers will not be visible streams of light. Instead, targets will simply explode. Troops will not point and shoot lasers, because they will most likely have to react to dangers and targets moving too fast for a human response. Nor will lasers be holster- sized – the smallest to date is the size of a commercial jetliner.