Feeds

Lightning-zapgun maker gets more US gov cash

Set phasers to 'mulct'

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

A US company developing laser-enhanced electric plasma lightning blaster cannons says it has received further funding from the US military. Applied Energetics (the company formerly known as Ionatron) announced today that it had landed a $4.5m contract to advance its Laser Guided Energy technology (LGE).

“We thank the Army for their efforts and assistance in moving this program forward," said Dana Marshall of Applied. "This contract... will bring us to the follow-on phases of demonstration system engineering.”

The idea of LGE blaster weapons has been around for a while, but as yet nobody has got it to work. The plan is essentially to release a bolt of directed lightning at a target, in much the same way that electric sparks can be made to jump across short distances between two contacts. The spark is hugely more controllable and long ranging with LGE - or so goes the thinking - because a precursor laser beam has burned a "tunnel" through the air, turning it into a conductive plasma that carries current far better than normal atmosphere.

Applied/Ionatron have previously suggested that their lightning-beam blasters would make firearms obsolete. There would be non-lethal settings, where the zap-guns would essentially act as wireless versions of current Taser cattleprod-flinger electrocution weapons. Users would also be able to switch from "stun", "paralyse", "jitterbug", "noisy gadget fry" etc to a lethal setting.

Nowadays, however, the firm has backpedalled on the electro-phaser handgun notion, and merely hopes to use the tech for dealing with roadside bombs and so forth in Iraq. It says that LGE would offer "neutralisation" from a "safe standoff distance".

Most terrorist/insurgent bombs being electrically triggered, this neutralisation would presumably be achieved by detonating the bomb. This can actually done remotely already, using a variety of modified conventional weapons. Nonetheless, it would seem that the US forces see some useful potential in LGE - or at any rate, they have so much money targeted at mitigating roadside bombs that they're desperate for things to spend it on.

A previous 2006 attempt to field bomb-zappers on robot vehicles ended in ignominious failure, and the Ionatron stock tanked. The management of the renamed Applied Energetics now face a shareholder lawsuit alleging that they knew all along that the kit wasn't ready for field use, but failed to disclose this so as to make large personal gains on inflated stock in the run-up to failed military tests. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
APPLE FAILS to ditch class action suit over ebook PRICE-FIX fiasco
Do not pass go, do cough (up to) $840m in damages
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.