The United States Army is developing its most powerful laser weapon to date, with technology that is a million times more powerful than current systems.
By Miamimundo / infobae
Laser weapons work by firing a continuous beam or beam until the target (which can be an enemy drone or missile) catches fire or melts. But the new Ultra Short Pulse Tactical Laser (UPSL) would work by emitting bursts, more like a film, but at an unimaginable speed, keeping the intensity intact.
As reported by the magazine New Scientist, the prototype, commissioned from the US firm Aqwest, is being designed to reach a terawatt for a brief 200 femtoseconds, which is a quadrillionth of a second, compared to the maximum of 150 kilowatts for current systems.
It is not a deadly weapon: on human skin it would cause irritation or, in extreme cases, permanent blindness. But it is a key component of a military strategy. In addition to vaporizing the surface of a drone to knock it out of action or overload optical sensors, it could also disturb electronic systems, in a similar operation to electromagnetic pulses.
The goal is for the prototype to be ready by August next year. One of the requirements is that it be of a size, weight and robustness suitable for being used on different Army platforms.
The Pentagon is taking a special interest in these types of weapons. Plans launched during the Trump administration include lasers that neutralize missiles and beams that bombard enemy projectiles with subatomic particles until they are rendered useless.
Last May, the United States tested a laser weapon and destroyed a drone mid-flight over the Pacific. “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy,” stated the commander of the USS Portland.
Alarms were raised among the US military when in February last year the Navy reported that a Chinese warship fired a laser beam at a United States aircraft during a reconnaissance flight over western Guam, in the Pacific, and was detected by the ship’s sensors. For its part, Russia unveiled the powerful Peresvet laser cannon at the end of 2018, capable of knocking down targets “in fractions of a second.”