Toward the end of the day, I stood under the scalding Texas sun next to a tan metal container stuffed with missiles. This was the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), a portable system that could fire GPS-guided missiles so accurately that they could strike enemies hunkered down in a narrow alley. Two soldiers standing by shouted out mission orders and then clicked a button on a screen marked "execute." At this point, I was supposed to imagine a missile blasting forth and streaking toward its target. But it was a Fourth of July firework that went off with a whistle and no pop.
Schaill looked on approvingly and then gave a little speech. The theme was borderline pacifist for a military man and seemed to sum up the hopes for FCS -- that more information would result in less bloodshed. "Over the next 30 to 40 years, we'll be doing a lot of operations in populated areas," Schaill said. "What that means is we have to be able to precisely gain target information, because I don't want to hurt civilians. I don't want to hurt anybody I don't have to hurt. This [launch system] gives us the capability to get these missiles precisely where they need to be on the battlefield."
A reporter standing near me cleared his throat and said, "at least more precise than in current systems. Precise and war are generally two concepts that don't go well together." Schaill looked straight at him. There was a long pause before he responded. "Historically, perhaps. But a sword is pretty precise. I think this will be much more precise as well."single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.