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Enormous raygun-on-a-lorry project acquires lorry

Now we just need a raygun

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Plans by the US military-industrial complex to mount a laser cannon on an enormous lorry are moving forward. The enormous lorry in question has now been received by the firm providing the laser cannon, famed arms'n'aerospace globocorp Boeing.

Boeing says it received a mighty Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) intended to become the world's first ground combat raygun vehicle from lorry maker Oshkosh last month. The 8x8 beast weights in at 20 tonnes.

"This demonstration program has successfully transitioned from the design phase to the fabrication phase," said Boeing Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit. "This transformational, solid-state laser weapon capability will provide speed-of-light, ultra-precision capability that will dramatically improve warfighters' ability to counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles."

The blaster-lorry will be known as High Energy Laser Tactical Demonstrator (HEL TD), and is notionally meant to park up in a US military base overseas. Should local malfeasants commence to lob rockets or mortars into the perimeter, HEL TD would fire up and ray the projectiles into flaming incandescent debris in midair.

At the moment, automatically-aimed gatling cannon are sometimes used for this task. Self-destruct timer fuses are used in the shells so as to avoid raining too much destruction down on the surrounding neighbourhood, but even so a fair number of duds get scattered about. Lasers wouldn't have this problem; nor would they run out of ammo as easily (provided they were solid state electric jobs rather than cumbersome chemically-fuelled ones as seen in the laser jumbo jet).

It's now known that powerful 100kW battle-strength solid state lasers can be built, but not by Boeing - by rival deathware goliath Northrop. Thus far, Boeing's solid state laser offerings have seemed perhaps a little puny.

The firm does little to allay such concerns, saying: "HEL TD testing against real targets, but using a low-power surrogate for the high-energy laser, is scheduled for fiscal year 2011".

Our readers in the high-net-worth, global domination aspirant, shark-fancying community needn't get too excited yet. ®

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