Over the centuries, ranged weapons have remained generally the same in terms of their core concept. Whether it’s a bow and arrow or a Gatling gun, we’ve generally just been spending hundreds of years shooting small pieces of metal at each other. Fear not though, recent developments in people-killing technologies have advanced to the level of science fiction fantasy, and we now have access to a shiny new laser cannon developed by a consortium of UK companies.
According to the developers, the Dragonfire system is a 50kW directed energy weapon developed for use on both land and sea. Primarily a defensive weapon, the cannon will be used for air-defense, the targeting of drones, and for protecting forces from mortar and artillery attacks. With the ability to operate at the speed of light (it is a laser), a cannon potentially would be able to target and destroy an incoming mortar round before it reaches its destination.
Given its energy-based nature, the device is potentially limitless in its use, as it will continue to fire given enough energy. While it obviously is intended for its military use, there has also been discussions about the future potential of weapons like this for use in protecting Earth from asteroids. Proposed by the University of California Santa Barbara Experimental Cosmology Group, project DE-STAR details the creation of a large phased-array of lasers in Earth’s orbit that would have the ability to deflect asteroids, comets, and other non-earth objects. There’s even a smaller projected called DE-STARLITE which envisions probes mounted with lasers that would travel alongside a target, and slowly deflect it over a long period of time.
While the Dragonfire system is obviously aimed at being a defensive (and most likely offensive) weapon here on Earth, we may soon see similar weapons being used to defend our planet in orbit above us.
Images: MBDA, Royal Navy, University of California Santa Barbara
Source: The Engineer