On 11 July 2005, the Associated Press reported:

For years, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and virtually inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. "Directed-energy" pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on "Star Trek" could be set to kill or merely stun.

Such weapons are now nearing fruition. But logistical issues have delayed their battlefield debut – even as soldiers in Iraq encounter tense urban situations in which the nonlethal capabilities of directed energy could be put to the test…

The flexibility of directed-energy weapons could be vital as wide-scale, force-on-force conflict becomes increasingly rare, many experts say. But the technology has been slowed by such practical concerns as how to shrink beam-firing antennas and power supplies.

Military officials also say more needs to be done to assure the international community that directed-energy weapons set to stun rather than kill will not harm noncombatants.

Such issues recently led the Pentagon to delay its Project Sheriff, a plan to outfit vehicles in Iraq with a combination of lethal and nonlethal weaponry – including a highly touted microwave-energy blaster that makes targets feel as if their skin is on fire. Sheriff has been pushed at least to 2006.

"It was best to step back and make sure we understand where we can go with it," said David Law, science and technology chief for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

The directed-energy component in the project is the Active Denial System, developed by Air Force researchers and built by Raytheon Co.  (more…)

Source: "Military’s energy-beam weapons delayed," Associated Press (11 July 2005).

Not all directed energy weapons have been delayed.  Transformation Tracker referenced a Jane’s story early in the week about the attempt to rapidly deploy a laser weapon to Iraq.

 

 

Advertisements