DIRECTED-ENERGY WEAPON – CHANGING THE RULES
• A directed-energy weapon (DEW) emits highly focused energy, transferring that energy to a
target to damage it.
• Potential applications of this technology include anti-personnel weapon systems, potential
missile defense system, and the disabling of lightly armored vehicles such as cars, drones, jet
skis, and electronic devices such as mobile phones.
• The energy can come in various forms:
Electromagnetic radiation, including radio frequency, microwave, lasers and masers
Particles with mass, in particle-beam weapons (technically a form of micro-projectile weapon)
Sound, in sonic weapons
Laser beams travel at the speed of light, so there is no need (except over extremely long
distances) to compensate for target movement.
Consequently, evading an accurately aimed laser after it has been fired is impossible.
Light is only slightly affected by gravity, so that long-range projection requires little
compensation. Other aspects such as wind speed can be neglected at most times, unless shooting
through an absorptive matter.
Lasers can change focusing configuration to provide an active area that can be much smaller or
larger than projectile weaponry.
Given a sufficient power source, laser weapons could essentially have limitless ammunition.
Because light has a practically zero ratio of momentum to energy (exactly 1/c), lasers produce
• Existing methods of storing, conducting, transforming, and directing energy are inadequate to produce a
convenient hand-held weapon. Existing lasers waste much energy as heat, requiring still-bulky cooling equipment
to avoid overheating damage.
• Air cooling can yield an unacceptable delay between shots. These problems, which severely limit laser weapon
practicality at present, might be offset by:
Cheap, high-temperature superconductors to make the weapon more efficient.
More convenient high-volume electricity storage/generation. Part of the energy could be used to cool the device.
• Chemical lasers use energy from a suitable chemical reaction instead of electricity.
• Chemical oxygen iodine laser (hydrogen peroxide with iodine) and deuterium fluoride laser are two laser types
capable of megawatt-range continuous beam output.
• Managing chemical fuel presents its own problems, and issues with cooling and overall inefficiency remain.
• These problems could be lessened if the weapon were mounted either at a defensive position near a power plant,
or on board a large, possibly nuclear powered, water-going ship, as it would have the advantage of plentiful water
• The Chinese People's Liberation Army has invested in the development of coatings that can
deflect beams fired by U.S. military lasers.
• Lasers are composed of light that can be deflected, reflected, or absorbed by manipulating
physical and chemical properties of materials.
• Artificial coatings can counter certain specific types of lasers, but if a different type was used than
the coating was designed to handle it would be able to burn through it.
• Available information on a system's size, power consumption, major components, and laser
generation methods can determine the type of laser beam and which type of coating.
• The coatings are made of several different substances including low-cost metals, rare earths,
carbon fiber, silver, and diamonds that have been processed to fine sheens and tailored against
specific laser weapon systems.
PARTICLE BEAM WEAPONS
• Particle-beam weapons can use charged or neutral particles, and can be either endoatmospheric
• Particle beams as beam weapons are theoretically possible, but practical weapons have not
been demonstrated. Certain types of particle beams have the advantage of being self-focusing in
• Blooming is also a problem in particle-beam weapons. Energy that would otherwise be focused
on the target spreads out; the beam becomes less effective:
Thermal blooming occurs in both charged and neutral particle beams, and occurs when
particles bump into one another under the effects of thermal vibration, or bump into air
Electrical blooming occurs only in charged particle beams, as ions of like charge repel one
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