Boeing's laser weapons have already shown the power to blast aerial drones from the sky, but may find even more immediate use in detonating roadside bombs, which are a top killer of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. A newly unveiled video shows the company's truck-mounted Laser Avenger destroying two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during a series of 50 test firings that took place at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama last September, according to OptoIQ.
Here at Popular Science, we work under the assumption that ray guns are cool. But you know what's even cooler? A flying ray gun. And thanks to an $8 million dollar funding bump from the Air Force, a flying ray gun is closer to production than ever.
The defense company Raytheon unveiled the beam weapon in 2001; back then they mounted the device on a Humvee. Now, the military's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate has requested an upgrade to the weapon that would allow the JNLWD to attach it to helicopters and other aircraft.
The U.S. Navy is still looking for an energy ray to defeat IEDs. However, unlike previous attempts, the new technology they're dreaming of would render the explosives inert, rather than prematurely detonate them.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), also often referred to as roadside bombs, have been the deadliest weapon used by anti-U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The devices prey on the U.S. military's dependence on roads for logistics; they target supply convoys and patrols alike. Unfortunately, many of these mines can't distinguish between U.S. Marines in a Humvee and an Iraqi or Afghan family in an Opel, leading to many civilian deaths as well.