Feeds

Boeing trumpets 'relevant battlefield laser' raygun

Copes easily with aggressive sitting ducks, barrels of fish

The next step in data security

Monster US arms'n'aerospace outfit Boeing is pleased as punch this week to announce that it has "successfully demonstrated" its new Humvee-mounted raygun, the Laser Avenger - intended to prove "that directed energy weapons are relevant to today's battlefield, and ready to be fielded".

Holy crap, one might think. Energy weapons, relevant to today's battlefield, ready to go?

That's got to be something pretty exciting - maybe a handheld blaster rifle, better in some ways than an AK47. Or, more prosaically but very usefully, a lightning-fast beam which could zap salvos of Katyusha rockets or mortar bombs out of the air - very welcome in the constantly-harassed fortified bases of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Well, no, actually. What we've got here is a gyrostabilised automatic turret from Boeing's existing Avenger air-defence system. Avenger normally packs Stinger missiles and/or a .50-cal heavy machine gun, but this year Boeing has fitted it out with a 1 kilowatt solid state laser.

Just what use this might be isn't immediately clear, though Boeing reckons Laser Avenger would be a great way of clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) or perhaps terrorist/insurgent bombs (Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs) out of the way. It seems you can shine the raygun at such things, and after a while they explode.

Boeing said: "During laser firings [last month] the Laser Avenger engaged and destroyed five targets representing IED and UXO threats... at ranges that allowed the system to be operated at safe distances from the target."

Well, that is impressive. Although you can do the same job - probably quicker - with a suitable rifle, actually: probably with less chance of detonating the explosives. And you don't need a whole Hummer-load of gear in that scenario.

So what else can Laser Avenger do? Apart from maybe light a cigar?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.