Laser systems have been used for decades to shoot down ballistic missiles, mortars, and other swift, airborne objects. The past past few years, they’ve found a new target: drones.
The pesky devices have already been used in attempts to fly drugs over the southern border and into prisons, and there are growing concerns that drones could be used by terrorists to wreck havoc, making defense laser systems more needed than ever.
Lockheed Martin built an anti-drone laser system in 2012, MBDA Deutschland did the same earlier this year. Boeing is now the latest defense company to jump on the bandwagon, rolling out the Compact Laser Weapon System this week.
The primary advantage that lasers have against other anti-drone technology—nets carried by another drone, radio jammers, and even shotguns are all candidates in this burgeoning field—is its range. Systems that are large enough could theoretically have a range in the hundreds of miles. During the Cold War, the Reagan administration considered building a system of laser-equipped satellites in low orbit as a shield against potential nuclear strikes from the Soviet Union.
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