Ever find yourself watching a movie, and at the moment the villain whips out an elaborately sinister doomsday device, you say, "Hey, I wouldn't mind having one of those things!"
Well, it turns out defense contractors are thinking the exact same thing. The only difference is they have billions to spend to make it happen. Coming soon to a battlefield near you:
5The Advanced Tactical Laser, Boeing's Flying Laser Cannon
We've been waiting for a good freaking death ray for, oh, about 70 years. So when Boeing says, " ... directed energy weapons are relevant to today's battlefield and are ready to be fielded," we pay attention.
Now, Boeing's already doing a few interesting things with laser technology on a smaller scale (like mounting devices to Humvees and using them to detonate bombs from a safe distance. They can also put a bigger one in a jumbo jet and use it to destroy incoming ICBMs from hundreds of miles away. But those are hardly death rays, right? They're reassuring defensive measures designed to protect our brave men and women!
That's where the Advanced Tactical Laser comes in.
Designed to engage (that is, utterly destroy) ground targets, the ATL is a weapon fitted to an aircraft like a C-130 transport plane. From 10,000 feet up and five miles away, this 40,000-pound, megawatt-class, chemical laser will melt a hole through a tank.
Or should we say, tanks. The ATL is intended to strike up to 100 targets in rapid succession. Oh, and the beam's silent. And invisible. One moment you're having a nice cup of coffee atop your troop transport, the next you're a smoking hole in the ground.
This space age, science fiction gadget is scheduled for live fire demonstrations later this year.
Where They Got the Idea:Independence Day.
Or, quite possibly from the 1985 Val Kilmer comedy Real Genius.