Laser weapons have a serious shortcoming, in the minds of some Pentagon thinkers. No, it's not the fact that it takes giant vats of chemicals or a gazillion watts of power to get the beam machines to work. Or that a fair-sized rainstorm pretty much renders them useless. It's that lasers can only zap as far as the eye can see. The beams don't curve, so ray guns can't reach over the horizon.The Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation wants to change that, however, with a world-wide ring of giant mirrors, that would bounce laser light to wherever the Pentagon saw fit.The transformation shop has been talking about this Tactical Relay Mirror System, or TRMS, for several years. Now, they may be ready to start some early-stage testing, Inside Defense reports.Some of the work that were doing on this is very advanced, and [has] come along very well, Col. Craig Hughes said. And certainly the test of the laboratory-sized aerospace relay mirror come this spring will be a significant development for us.Maybe the mirrors would be connected to a set of giant blimps, some have suggested. Maybe they'd be strapped onto robotic planes. But, strangely, Inside Defense notes, Hughes and his fellow mirror men seem to be tying their program to the star-crossed Airborne Laser, or ABL. That's the 747, modified for ray gunning, that's been sinking rather rapidly in the military's estimation. Flight tests for the thing are now six years behind schedule, and the project was recently demoted down to a technology demonstrator,
If you put [a mirror] on an airship right above ABL, you instantly double the range of ABL and eventually maybe these things can go into space.Considering that the ABL is the only part of this little scenario that's anything more than a PowerPoint slide, however, I guess Hughes and Co. don't really have a choice. Keep on blasting, boys.