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US fighters tooling up with lasers

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The US military is going all Star Wars with plans to equip its aircraft with laser guns to shoot down enemy missiles and aircraft.

The snappily named High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program has been tasked with the job of developing, building and testing a relatively small and light-weight laser device for use by aircraft.

The device, or HEL laser, must weigh less than 750Kg and be capable of producing a 15kW beam. HEL laser is being overseen by the Defense Research Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA), which manages R&D projects for the US Department of Defense.

HEL laser is designed to over-come traditional problems associated with laser-based weaponry. Lasers guns are typically too large to fit in the confines of a fighter and are prone to overheating.

The New Scientist reports, though, DARPA believes it has overcome these conventional limitations by combining high energy density solid-state laser technology with liquid laser technology to control the heat-generation problem. Right.®

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