DOD Seeks Ray Guns
Wired Top Stories Download time: Jul 28 2010 7:50 AM ET
The Department of Defense continues its quest for the ultimate (or at least a working) ray gun, asking small businesses last week to submit ideas for lasers that sense, communicate, illuminate targets and shoot missiles out of the air.
No surprises here — the military wants 'em small, light, efficient and devastatingly powerful. To date, real-life ray guns are still too big, bulky and complicated for the battlefield, even when they're powerful enough to blow things up.
Take the lethal-yet-unwieldy Airborne Laser, which shot down a ballistic missile in midair last February. The laser weapon took up every last corner of a tricked-out Boeing 747, but according to the Missile Defense Agency the megawatt-class chemical laser is "too large and expensive to field in large numbers on many operational airborne platforms." (Pictured above is the jet the Airborne Laser uses as a target in practice blasts.)…
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