In the world of laser guns and death rays, there's hard to pull off. And then's really, really hard to do.The Army has decided to concentrate on developing some of the easier "directed energy" weapons. The idea is to prove to a skeptical military community that lasers can, in fact, be used to blow stuff up -- and not just on Babylon 5."Several significant DE systems already are vying for Army attention and funding," Aerospace Daily reports, "but each faces technological hurdles."While Sparta Inc.'s Zeus, a Humvee-mounted laser system, has destroyed unexploded ordnance in Afghanistan, it still has significant limitations, including its reliance on other forces to detect ordnance...The Army is expected later this year to award a contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. to build a prototype of the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser. But while a fixed-site demonstrator has successfully shot down artillery shells and Katyusha rockets, the size of the chemical laser has to be reduced significantly to make it mobile, which is considered a key requirement for battlefield use.The Army has expressed interest in the Solid State Heat Capacity Laser as a potential weapon on ground vehicles, believing it ultimately would have advantages over chemical lasers, including requiring a smaller logistics burden. However, the technology for electrically driven, solid-state lasers is considered even less mature than that of chemical lasers.
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