A German arms company has developed a laser capable of knocking drones out of the sky from nearly 2 miles away, using technology that looks a lot like what Darth Vader's Death Star used against Luke Skywalker and the rebel forces in “Star Wars.”
MBDA Deutschland, based in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria, developed a laser beam that successfully identified, tracked and hit an unmanned aerial vehicle from 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) away. The drone was eliminated within seconds, the company said.
“At the heart of MBDA Deutschland's technological approach is a multi-stage, highly precise tracking procedure and laser effector that bundles numerous laser sources into a single laser beam using the principle of geometric coupling,” the company said in a statement this week, as quoted by United Press International. “These processes make it possible to combat small, highly agile targets with a single laser effector.”
The laser combines four beams into a single laser, to be exact, which then produces a 40 kilowatt beam. MBDA hopes to destroy mini-UAVs from up to 5 kilometers (3.01 miles) when the laser is operating at full capacity, which could happen within five years.
The announcement comes amid growing concern over the widespread use of drones, and particularly over how they might be used. Missiles, the tried and true method of knocking adversaries out of the sky, have proven to be largely ineffective against the much more nimble, remote controlled UAVs. It hasn't been for a lack of effort, as insurgents throughout the Middle East regularly fire upon U.S. drones with conventional weapons but have failed to knock down even one (as far as the public knows).