We’re probably still decades away from the kind of force field protection found in science fiction. Until then, we’ll have to settle for taking down missiles even before they can get too near. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t inject a bit of the hi-tech stuff that somewhat inspire the imagination. That might be the image you’ll get with the US Air Force Research Lab’s report of successfully shooting down missiles in the air using high energy lasers.
Of course, that still won’t be the visible light show that most on-screen laser fights have. And considering its military use, it’s probably best for these High-Energy Lasers to remain hidden. Not that it would be easy to conceal such large laser systems that are powerful enough to take down missiles.
The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s SHiELD program, short for Self-protecting HIgh Energy Laser Demonstrator, will eventually be rugged and small enough to be taken to the skies. But the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) it used this weekend as a surrogate certainly isn’t. That said, it successfully demonstrated (hence the name) the effectiveness of using lasers to protect the US against missiles.
The series of tests held at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico involved engaging and shooting down several missiles that were launched into the air. This simulated a scenario where a national security threat would launch such missiles either from the ground or even from an aircraft. The USAF’s report didn’t go into further detail nor did they have images or videos of the test, unsurprisingly.
The US military, actually almost every military around the world, have been looking at high energy lasers as a game-changing technology in warfare. Unlike their fictional counterparts. Most lasers, even high energy ones, are silent and invisible to the naked eye. The only time you’d be alerted to their use, unless you have specialized instruments exactly for that purpose, is when the damage is already done.