radar_lowres2.jpgLasers have been getting pretty good at knocking down rockets, as we've seen in tests over the last few years. Now, the ray guns are starting to prove that they can zap one of the most common battlefield threats mortars as well.In tests last week at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the Tactical High Energy Laser blasted individual mortar rounds and salvos of the munitions. That's the first time a "directed energy" weapon has done so. Since 2000, the weapon, a collaboration between the American and Israeli militaries, has been successfully zapping rockets and artillery shells in tests.U.S. forces in Iraq could sure use the ray gun right now; mortars have become a favorite of insurgents there, used almost as commonly as roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. Two teenagers were killed over the weekend when mortars struck eastern Baghdad. But the laser is still years away from operational use 2007, at the earliest. (via GeekPress)

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