Why take a shotgun to the drone hovering over your back yard when you could train a tactical laser system on it? Boeing showed off one such weapon this week, demonstrating the device's ability to taking down unmanned vehicles in a handful of seconds.
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"Think of it like a welding torch being put on target, but from many hundreds of meters away," said Boeing engineer Isaac Neal in a video put out by the company.
This upgraded 2-kilowatt laser is smaller and lighter than early prototypes, and allows for manual or radar-guided control. Setup is simple and takes just a few minutes, making it more practical for field operations. And while, like other laser weapons, it takes a few seconds to do what a bullet would do in the blink of an eye, there are advantages, too. It's silent and the beam is invisible to the naked eye, for instance.
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"If you were on the receiving end of laser energy, you would have no idea where it was coming from or what was even happening," Neal said.
Chances are the Compact Laser Weapons System won't ever see a domestic release — although in peacetime, a smaller version might help keep mosquitoes at bay.