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The US Defense Department is investing $17 million into high-tech laser technology that has the power to disrupt communication systems, destroy enemy drones and eliminate mortars. The energy lasers also provide the military with portable, less costly weapon options on the field.

Another $200 million has been requested…[for] a program within the Pentagon for accelerating the transition of directed-energy research to real applications.”

This bold idea may be an important asset to America’s defense capabilities and help improve military firepower in case of war.

Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and supporter of directed energy research, made the announcement at Boeing HQ where the lasers are produced. He revealed that the United  States already has the ability to shoot down enemy rockets and take out other threats with traditional weapons but it’s expensive. The latest laser tech options are a more affordable and practical solution.

“High-energy lasers and microwave systems represent a shift to weapons with essentially endless ammunition and the ability to wipe out multiple threats in a short amount of time,” he said.

“This is ready for prime time and getting people to just wrap their head around the fact that you can put a laser on something moving really fast and destroy it … has been the biggest challenge,” he added.

According to Review Journal, Boeing has been behind the creation of the latest laser technology. The company has been working on high-energy laser and microwave weapons systems for years. They have already devised a billion-dollar project to equip a Boeing 747 with a highly sophisticated laser cannon that can destroy missiles in the air.

Future of Laser Technology for Defense

Early laser systems, like the 747 cannon mentioned above, had to be built to large sizes to cater for the tech. However, thanks to the latest technological advances lasers can now fit into a small suitcase and have the same destructive power as the large ones from several years ago.

“Laser technology has moved from science fiction to real life,” Ron Dauk, head of Boeing’s Albuquerque site, said.

Laser weapons on a ship shoot down missiles.

The new compact laser systems have already undergone testing by the military and engineers have also created a higher-powered version which will be tested next year. Scientists have said that what’s most exciting about the compact laser is that it is almost ready to go out on the field.

Review Journal adds that testing has become so successful that “another $200 million has been requested in this year’s defense appropriations bill that would establish a program within the Pentagon for accelerating the transition of directed-energy research to real applications.”

Laser technology is certainly a bold idea, it’s like taking a scene from a Star Wars movie and making it a reality. Although our military will benefit from sophisticated technology like this, it throws up many debates about the use of such destructive power on the enemy. The consequences it could reap have yet to be determined, and the jury is out on how this could affect humanity.