U.S. Enemies Should Watch Out: Air Force To Mount Laser Cannons On Fighter Jets By 2020

 

Enemies of America will tremble and science fiction fans will rejoice at recent news that the U.S. Air Force plans to mount “directed energy pods” on it’s aircraft to use as weapons by 2020. This development is part of a wider move within the armed services to incrementally integrate laser-based weaponry into it’s arsenal. An example of this new technology being deployed is seen in a video released by the U.S. Navy in 2013, wherein a test drone is astonishingly shot down out of the air by a beam of directed energy invisible to the naked eye and fired from a cannon mounted on a destroyer vessel. In fact, the laser was only visible from the drone’s point of view, recording what appeared to be a light refraction shortly before the camera went dead as the aircraft was annihilated. If the Air Force sees the deployment of similar weapons within it’s ranks through, we can expect to see American aircraft using laser-based weaponry against ISIS fighters, Al Qaeda operatives, and other forces that come into conflict with the U.S. 5 years from now, neutralizing them with invisible armaments.

There will be definite upsides to converting to energy-based weapons and phasing out ballistic weaponry. Given the fact that the beams must be directed at targets, they will be much more accurate and much more precise than conventional munitions, which usually have a wide area of effect and thus risk collateral damage. Additionally, mounting the cannons that fire them onto fighter jets will cost much less than the expensive guns and missiles currently being loaded onto aircraft.

There are size and space considerations as well. The most prominent of the new weapons being developed by the Air Force, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.’s HELLADS system, is compact enough that it can be mounted on a Predator drone and sustain itself on a single lithium ion battery. It is hoped that the HELLADS (short for “High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System”) will be prepared for use on most drones by 2018 and increase the ability of unmanned aircraft to engage in combat, as MRCTV reports:

“’The goal of the HELLADS program is to develop a 150 kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that is ten times smaller and lighter than current lasers of similar power, enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats.’ said DARPA’s Dr. David Shaver. ‘With a weight goal of less than five kilograms per kilowatt, and volume of three cubic meters for the laser system, HELLADS seeks to enable high-energy lasers to be integrated onto tactical aircraft, significantly increasing engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems.’”

It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie or conspiracy theory, but it’s not! It’s just these interesting times we live in.

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