Lasers can add intrigue to just about any application. From the operating table to the machine shop, they can be used to complete all manner of tasks that would otherwise be incredibly challenging through direct contact with tools and equipment.

Even as lasers have played game-changing roles in many industries, perhaps there is is no better job for them than in the military.

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Laser Precision Defenses
The U.S. Air Force was one of the first military branches to employ the use of lasers. In the late 1970s, through the Gulf War, a range of different lasers have been used to boost our airborne capabilities, giving the U.S. a decided technological edge and more precise defense against missiles and other remote threats.

That legacy of laser employment is set to continue with an impressive new weapon that’s expected to be ready for use by 2020.

Highly Effective, Efficient, and Versatile
Called directed-energy weapons pods, the new combat laser cannons will be mounted on U.S. Air Force fighter jets and UAVs. The specific laser system projected for the new incorporation General Atomics’ 150 kW HELLADS or High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System.

The weapon is considerably compact, measuring a narrow 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters, making it small enough to be incorporated on to a Predator C drone. Like the previous ABLs (airborne lasers) used to zap down missiles in the 90’s, the new lasers could be used to strike UAVs and even enemy aircraft, mid-flight.

Since the HELLADS only requires the power of a single lithium ion battery pack, the weapon could be a highly effective, efficient, and versatile means of defense.

The Right Stuff For Combat
This system has yet to undergo a tough series of field tests, due to take place the the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

If proven to have the right stuff for combat, it may join the Army’s HEL-MD and the Navy’s USS Ponce mounted railgun as some of the U.S. most impressive laser weapon systems that are expected to make their front-ready debut in the near future.

Will you be watching to see if this latest set of laser weapons will change combat in the near future? Share your thoughts on this development in the comments.

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