Government Spends Billions On Giant Lasers
Forty years ago, the cries of “pew-pew” rang throughout the neighborhood as young boys
pretended to be Buck Rogers shooting space aliens with laser guns. Now, that “pew-pew” echos through the halls of the Pentagon as the same young boys – now powerful men – dream of developing real laser guns.
Reagan was one of the first. In his Star Wars missile defense program he planned to create an x-ray laser powered by a nuclear blast. Needless to say, that idea never got off the ground.
But then in the fifteen years to 2011 the Pentagon spent a whopping $5 billion on the Airborne Laser Test Bed program. The plan was to cram a laser onto a Boeing 747 and use it to target ballistic missiles before they can breach the atmosphere. After nearly two decades, the project was scrapped because the Pentagon couldn’t figure out how to ensure the 747 would be near the missile at the exact moment the enemy decided to launch it.
But these expensive and futile attempts haven’t quashed the government’s love affair with lasers. The latest gizmo in the works is a Tactical Laser System that – for the low price of $150 million – can shoot up to 10kW of energy into an enemy target. To put this technological “achievement” in perspective, 10kW can run half a dozen hotplates for an hour or so.
Considering the fact that lasers can’t find targets hidden by a hill, get confused shooting through polluted or wet air, and can be misdirected by mirrors, perhaps the Pentagon (and the American economy) would be better served if we simply lobbed hotplates at our targets.
But boys must have their toys, even at the expense of the American taxpayer.
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