Lightning in a gun: U.S. Navy funds powerful laser weapon

First we had the cloaking device now apparently the military is going to get a real live phaser gun. The company that makes what it calls "directed energy weapons, " Ionatron, today announced it had won an almost $10 million contract from the U.S. Navy to continue developing of its Laser Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) technology.

According to the company's Website, its devices produce " man-made lightning" to disable people or vehicles that threaten our security." Basically is a short pulse laser that can be directed at a target with ferocious intensity. The company also notes that the gun is available in lethal and non-lethal versions. Interestingly the site also notes that man-made lightning is not new; it was first demonstrated in the late 1890s by Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the AC induction motor. The transmission of energy without wires is the heart of the concept-man-made lightning is nothing more than high-voltage discharge. Ionatron improved the concept by adding a special kind of laser that lets us speed up the discharge and precisely control where the man-made lightning goes. Sounds like a Star Wars Stormtrooper blaster. The company goes on to say that the federal government has dedicated approximately $1 billion of their budgets to developing directed energy technology. Ionatron believes the market for new directed-energy applications (LIPC being one of them) will increase to $12.7 billion over the next ten years for the defense market alone. Ionatron's gun is supposedly more powerful than the directed energy gun the Air force is developing, That one called the Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response, or PHaSR. The choice of the name was no accident; it was done in homage to "Star Trek." Instead of shooting bullets, it shoots a low-power beam of laser light that blinds an individual, temporarily blinding them. It's a similar effect to walking out from a dark area into bright sunlight.The US Navy has been bulking up on major nasty weapons. Earlier this year it contracted for a pixelated railgun . The gun uses massive quantities of electricity rather than gunpowder to propel "nonexplosive projectiles at incredible speeds." The weapon is powerful enough to equal the damage inflicted by a Tomahawk cruise missile, and the device's project director compared the impact to hitting a solid object "going 380 miles-per-hour in a Ford Taurus." The railgun touts a 200 to 250 nautical-mile range, compared to the 15 nautical-mile range a typical five-inch guns supports now.

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