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Boeing Tests X-Box-Controlled Laser Cannon

Drones have been turning up in strange places lately.

For instance, back in April, a mailman delivered a campaign reform letter to Congress by landing a drone on the Capitol lawn and just a few days later, a radioactive drone turned up on top of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office (Kuroda paradropping yen?). 

Then, in May, a drone showed up in Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Michigan and literally rained down money from the heavens. 

Meanwhile, earlier this month, a Delta flight and a JetBlue flight had close encounters of the drone kind over JFK, avoiding collisions by just 100 feet. 

Well apparently Boeing had had just about enough of people “flying their drones where they shouldn’t” (to quote Wired) because the company has now developed a drone-killing laser cannon which it tested in New Mexico earlier this week. Here’s more from Wired:

The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars—there’s no flying beams of light, no “pew! pew!” sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down.

 

People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t. In airport flight paths. Above wildfires. Onto the White House lawn. Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents—that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet.

 

But governments and militaries around the world are terrified by the prospect of drones carrying explosives or chemical weapons (and now, pornography) into places where they shouldn’t.

 

There are lots of theories on the best way to deal with the drone threat. An Idaho company has developed special anti-drone shotgun shells. Some agencies are working on jamming technology to block communication from the operator to the aircraft. Firefighters in New York kept it simple, aiming their hose at a pesky drone hovering near a house fire.

 

Forget all that. Boeing thinks the best way to kill a drone is to zap it with a precision laser, burn a hole in it, and bring it down. So it created a weapon system to do just that—and the result could someday be installed everywhere from LaGuardia to the Pentagon.

But as Wired goes on to note, Boeing appears to have taken all the fun out of the whole idea of a "laser cannon": 

No explosions, no visible beam. It’s more like burning ants with a really, really expensive magnifying glass than obliterating Alderaan.

Ok, so that doesn't sound very exciting, is there anything fun about this thing? 

The laser is controlled with a standard Xbox 360 controller (“If it breaks, just head to the barracks to get a replacement!”) and a laptop with custom targeting software. 

That's more like it - here's a military grade, precision laser cannon that has that video game feel to it, which we imagine will come in handy when the Pentagon decides it's time to test this thing out on targets which are, how should we put this... oh, yeah.. human combatants. 

Of course, considering how lucrative sales to foreign countries are for America's military industrial complex, our only question now is how long it will be before someone "loses" a laser cannon in the Middle East only to see it used by former CIA "strategic assets" to down a Predator.