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Military Developing Plasma Weapon for Crowd Control


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Military Developing Plasma Weapon for Crowd Control

The Department of Defense is developing a new nonlethal, but very high-tech, plasma weapon designed to disperse crowds and enemies with loud noises.

According to a Defense One report, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWP) has crowd control and security at checkpoints in mind while developing the weapon.

The Laser-Induced Plasma Effect (LIPE) works, according to Defense One, by emitting high-energy laser bursts that last fractions of a second. The technology is such that each burst separates electrons and nuclei, creating a blue ball of plasma — one of the four states of matter, along with solids, liquids, and gases.

The weapon has been tested in the lab at short distances, with the hope of reaching 100 meters or about 330 feet.

"We've demonstrated it in the lab at very short ranges. But we haven't been able to demonstrate it at even 100 meters. That's … the next step," JNLWP technology division chief David Law told Defense One.

"Current plasmas maybe achieve 90 to 100 [decibels] … we are trying to get to be around 130 dB or a little more.

"Every dB is a factor of 10 times the loudness … We've been working this in bits and pieces since 2009, but it really has been just over the past couple years that the laser technology has matured enough to be able to potentially get this kind of sound out."

Another report in May, meanwhile, claimed the International Space Station (ISS) could eventually carry a laser weapon that would use plasma — which Defense One described as "a gas plus" — to vaporize and/or move space junk out of Earth's orbit.

A test version with a 10-watt laser that can use 100 pulses per second with a telescope could accompany a Japanese module to the ISS as soon as 2017 or 2018.

"If that goes well, we plan to install a full-scale version on the ISS, incorporating a three-meter telescope and a laser with 10,000 fibers, giving it the ability to deorbit debris with a range of approximately 100 kilometers," scientist Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, who led the laser development effort, said in a statement.

"Looking further to the future, we could create a free-flier mission and put it into a polar orbit at an altitude near 800 kilometers, where the greatest concentration of debris is found," said Ebisuzaki.

A laser weapon developed by Lockheed Martin destroyed the engine of a truck from a mile away in a test earlier this year.

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