Armed Forces

US military is developing Star Wars-style lasers

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The U.S. military has handed two engineers $3.2 million to create a Star Wars-style laser weapon.

Lasers are fast becoming the weapon of choice as the battlefield becomes increasingly hi-tech.

Britain is already working on a laser which could slice aircraft like butter and the US has already begun testing the technology to shoot down incoming missiles and drones.

And now Clemson University researchers John Ballato and Lin Zhu, in South Carolina, have been tasked with advancing these terrifying high energy weapons.

They have been handed taxpayer dosh to improve the way light is channelled through an optic fibre and to engineer a highly powerful light beam that goes in just one direction – a tricky task.

Ballato is working on an optical fibre that channels a high energy light which is powerful enough to melt through drones and rockets.

Optical fibre is more commonly used to carry internet traffic.

His challenge is to figure out what materials should be used to make the optical fibre so that they do not decrease the laser’s power.

Zhu is working on diodes that convert electricity into light.

He has been ordered to create a highly powerful light beam that also goes in one direction.

Funding comes from the US government’s High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office, which was set up in 2000 to create weapons more akin to science fiction novels.

It’s not clear exactly how the lasers will be used – whether they could be installed in lightsaber-style beams or used in a gun to shoot at flying targets.

 

The US defense department has already been testing out high energy laser cannons.

Britain is expected to reveal its own laser weapon by 2019 after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon outlined £30million for the technology at the end of last year.

The Ministry of Defence recently revealed a video of a laser it's working on which could be seen melting missiles.

It is hoped that within years the laser will be advanced enough to cut through larger missiles and rockets.