US Army testing 'lightning gun'
From online dispatches
A guided lightning bolt travels horizontally, then hits a car when it finds the lower resistance path to ground. US Army photoThe United States Army has begun testing a new weapon that would enable its users to virtually hurl lightning bolts at their enemies, RT.com reported.
The weapon, called the Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) cannon, was being tested at Picatinny Arsenal, a key U.S. Army research complex.
The cannon works by emitting a laser pulse that charges the air, forming a hugely destructive bolt of lightning.
"If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge," George Fischer, who heads the research team, was quoted as saying. "During the duration of the laser pulse, it can be putting out more power than a large city needs, but the pulse only lasts for two-trillionths of a second."
The laser acted both as the weapon's energy source and its aiming mechanism, the report said. A bolt of lightning would travel on a path of least resistance, and the laser created such a medium for the electric current to travel.
In theory, the weapon was powerful enough to take out a specific target in its entirety, like an enemy SUV or a plane, without having to damage anything around it.
The LIPC cannon was most powerful when it was used against a high conductivity metal object – like a tank – sitting on a lower conductivity surface, such as land, the report said.
The U.S. Army has not yet placed any orders for the device as engineers were trying to turn the working prototype into a mobile cannon that could be mounted on aircraft and tanks.