US Air Force wants to install lasers on fighter jets; no word yet about sharks

DARPA
Freakin' laser beams on freakin' fighter jets!

If knowledge is half the battle, surely lasers on a fighter jet must account for the other 50 percent.

The US Military wants to start installing defensive solid-state lasers on fighter jets and bombers to help protect them from surface to air missiles. With technology allowing the systems become smaller and more accurate; the dreams of my 80s youth might finally come to fruition.

As reported by Gizmodo, this is not the first time the military has turned to lasers to help protect their aircraft. A modified 747 carried the first trial laser and successfully fired it in 2008. Of course, one shot from a giant plane does not make a fleet.

One of the biggest problems facing laser technology has been the vibration of the plane. Lining up every mirror just right to push through enough energy to take down a missile screaming towards you can be tough enough in lab. Imagine trying something like that on the back of a bucking bronco.

DARPA believes that it’s found a way to make the technology work in a limited space. Known as the HELLADS program, the company looks to develop 150-kilowatt lasers for the back end of the plane to protect you from any bogies riding up your six. This gives pilots an advantage over the ground-based systems that are already in place to protect aircraft by taking out targets at greater distance. Sometime in the future, the USAF may look to place the lasers on turrets to take out missiles from any direction.

As of right now, DARPA plans to finish assembling the pieces by this year and start testing them out in combat scenarios. By 2015, we could see the first lasers get installed in fighter jets and bombers. Until then, I’ll just have to keep making the “pew pew pew” sound effects whenever I fly back to the east coast.

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