Feeds

Lightning-zapgun maker gets more US gov cash

Set phasers to 'mulct'

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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?