Feeds

US to fund 'man-made lightning' raygun tech

$10m for quasi-lethal cattleprod blasters

Boost IT visibility and business value

The US Navy will put nearly $10m into development of "man-made lightning" blaster weapons.

In a release dated yesterday, Arizona-based company Ionatron announced that it had won a contract worth $9,839,094 to develop its Laser Induced Plasma Channel™ (LIPC) technology. The funds were supplied by the Naval Surface Warfare Centre, Crane division. NSW-Crane is well-known as a supplier of gadgets and weapons to the elite, secretive Navy SEALs among others.

Ionatron describes LIPC as "man-made lightning". It notes that electrical air-gap spark discharges are nothing new, but until now it has been very hard to make them travel any distance or point them at a target. But the firm's engineers reckon they've potentially got the problem cracked, using precursor laser pulses to burn a conductive tunnel through the air down which an electrical charge can easily jump.

The technology could be applied in a number of ways, perhaps most obviously as an improvement on existing Taser cattle-prod dartguns, used by police to electrocute malefactors into submission as opposed to simply shooting them. Ionatron reckon their lightning zappers could "replace guns as the weapon of choice in close-range defense."

But there'll be no need for plods or soldiers of the future to give up on killing people altogether. "Lethal configurations are also available," the company assures us.

Of course, electrical pulse weapons could well be more effective against electronics-based targets than human ones. Ionatron has previously been involved in efforts to use vehicle-mounted LIPC blasters to fry the circuitry of roadside bombs or landmines in Iraq. But in the end the US Army turned the kit down, reportedly disliking the carrying platforms rather than the ray-guns themselves.

That said, the idea of pouring a high-voltage electric current into a bomb's firing circuit seems pretty much certain to risk detonating it; and if that's all you want to achieve, there are simpler ways of doing it. The phrase "we have become the terrorist, haven't we sir," oft-heard from critical training staff in bomb-disposal schools, springs to mind.

With this most recent injection of funds, however, it seems that LIPC zap-beam technology certainly hasn't died off. US forces may yet take the field packing directed lightning blasters to supplement their fearful array of flying disco dazzle-cannon, crowd-griddling microwave-oven guns and vomit-ray phasers.

Never a dull moment with the American weapons boffins. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?