The Space Race and Cold War was in full blossom and coming to an end, mainly because of the USSR running out of cash and economically imploding attempting to keep up. Back then, we didn’t have laser weapons, but desired themmuch was a bluff, but soon, these laser weapon systems will be everywhere and used for all sorts of uses. Let’s talk shall we?
Not long ago, I was interviewed about the future of innovative laser weapon systems. Daniel the interviewer asks;”Do you believe we will soon see laser weapons? Why?”
Yes, and in the US we’re really there, now on the challenge of miniaturization. Perhaps building a little laser system the size of a small refrigerator to fit into the bomb bay of an F-35 or F-22 and I don’t have any doubt that will happen within 5-10 years, great for our allies who purchase our stealthy F-35, but awful for all adversaries. We’re focusing on a smaller system mounted on truck and Humvee, we have proven concept.
In the USA we also have boat mounted laser weapons devices for protection also. In the long run perhaps even a hand-held device, not like a Star Trek Phaser, but more like a bigger version of an assault rifle. There are still challenges with these types of weapons like air-density and the type of laser in airborne applications. Also the power needed, especially in the case of man-portable units. Another challenge is that the time required on goal to get a good kill when using lasers to shield against swarm attack.
Laser weapons do not make sense for every market in the battlespace or future battlespaces, but they’re viable nevertheless. It could be the science fiction loving minds of researchers or our love for Star Wars that has been guarantee the funding for such things. But high-tech weapon systems merely for the sake of it, makes no sense. Cash strapped nations should consider costs of such systems, and they will.
The US has many allies who would like to have those systems, and BAE and others are working on systems of their own now.
Luckily, these systems are hard to engineer, hard to produce, and hard to get right – but people are the smartest of the planet’s primates, and every nation with an advanced military has rounded up their best 150 IQ, Human+ scientists to work on such projects. For now however, it’s a matter of getting the most bang (zap) for the dollar.