‘Star Wars’ Turbolasers Are Real: Laser Guns Will Be Ready In 2023, Says U.S. Army

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The U.S. Military has 'Star Wars' weapons. DARPA

President Obama rejected a Star Wars petition asking the White House to build a Death Star by 2016, but don’t take lightsabers off the table just yet. The U.S. Military just made it pretty clear they plan to “dominate the battlefield” with laser weapons that look way too much like Star Wars blasters, starship turbolasers, and lightsaber beams. The Army issued an update on the status of their laser weapon technology this week, revealing laser beams are“very close” to an official debut. All types of laser guns are predicted to be ready by 2023, and some versions even earlier.

Mary J. Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities (S&T) to inform congressman about the Army’s development of what they call “offensive and defensive directed-energy weapons,” aka laser weapons to shoot down drones and missiles.  

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The Air Force is going to blow stuff up with laser beams. Photo: Air Force

“We have to make sure the lasers work and do the full set of scopes against the threats we project. And those threats include the counter-rockets, counter-artillery and counter-mortar as well as [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] and cruise missile threats,” Miller said.

Miller also revealed some laser weaponry may be put to use before 2023.  "There will be steps along the way where we spin off lesser capable laser systems that can do good things on smaller platforms. Those will come out soon," she said. If the technology is already ready, why wait seven more years?  Miller said it's important the laser guns be fully tested "before we offer it to a Soldier."

According to Dr. David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, the Air Force currently flies with lasers under certain aircrafts as part of an infrared countermeasure system. But Walker has big plans to upgrade that existing technology into something much more powerful. “As we get larger power outputs and better thermal management out of smaller package lasers, we will build those powers into defensive to offensive capability as well,” he said.

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This is clearly a 'Star Wars' turbolaser. Photo: U.S. Army

Walker also mentioned the Air Force is helping Special Operations Command develop an offensive laser for AFSOC AC-130 gunships. The Navy will get the same laser tech for their ships, vessels, and submarines. Since all military branches want their hands on laser tech, there is an entire office dedicated to the development of laser warfare. Dr. Stephen Welby, assistant secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, explained that The High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office coordinates all laser-related military efforts focusing on "third offset strategy.”

A Senator promptly asked what “third offset strategy” means. Walker’s response, paraphrased by the Army News Service, reads:

“Laser programs are just a small part of the third offset, which is the Defense Department's endeavor to dominate the battlefield of the future with "asymmetric advantages." Other offset strategies include unmanned and autonomous systems and cognitive warfare. The first two offsets involved Cold War efforts targeting the Soviet Union, the first being tactical nuclear weapons developed in the 1950s and precision weapons in the 1970s.”

Need a visual? Check out Boeing’s demonstration below:

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