Aaron Rowe at the Danger Room writes about Boeing’s Laser Avenger, “a cannon that could be used to take down incoming aircraft.” It seems that Boeing was able to use this device to blow a UAV out of the air with a fairly low-powered laser while Northrup Grumman is working on an even more powerful laser.
This all sort of leaves me wondering what problem this technology is a solution to. For the past twenty years every conflict the U.S. military has been involved with has involved overwhelming American air superiority. Finding better ways to shoot down enemy aircraft hasn’t been high on the priority list. But by the same token, the very dominance of American air power means that this would be very useful for America’s adversaries. Nobody we’re realistically going to fight could possibly build up a squadron of fighters to go toe-to-toe with the Air Force, but plane-killing lasers could be very useful. Obviously Boeing isn’t working on this technology in hopes of selling it to the Taliban, but my sense is that we should be hoping that we see relatively little progress on this sort of thing in years to come.