Next-gen US drone: now equipped with ‘death ray’ laser
11 December, 2012
The next generation of military drones, unveiled by a leading US manufacturer, will not just carry a limited supply of rockets – but will likely be fitted with an ultra-light laser, capable of repeatedly destroying objects at the speed of light.
“It would give us an unlimited magazine,” a person close to the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program told Time magazine.
Over the past four years, the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has given contractor General Atomics over $60 million to develop and then scale HELLADS – a powerful 150 kW ray with a difference.
Current lasers of that strength – enough to destroy an incoming rocket or plane – are bulky, which means they can only be placed on stationary defense systems.
HELLADS, which DARPA says is in the “final development stage,” is radically lighter. It will weigh only 750 kilograms – less than a very small car.
This vastly opens up its potential uses.
A key application of HELLADS is in the new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones.
In a digital video advertising its own Predator C Avenger drone, General Atomics shows a formation of UAVs annihilating a shower of ground-launched interceptor missiles in a split second, before making them an offensive weapon and targeting objects on the ground.