The term Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) evokes images of Star Wars-style ray guns blasting aircraft from the skies and laser toting creatures from the far reaches of outer space, but there are also non-lethal forms of these weapons under development for present day military or non-military applications. Boeing has just received a USD$38 million contract to develop a high powered microwave (HPM) airborne demonstrator for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Counter-electronics High power microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP).
Boeing has won a U.S. Navy contract worth up to $163 million to develop the Free Electron Laser (FEL), a weapon system that the company says "will transform naval warfare in the next decade by providing an ultra-precise, speed-of-light capability and unlimited magazine depth to defend ships against new, challenging threats, such as hyper-velocity cruise missiles." The envisioned level of precision would enable U.S. Navy ships to deliver nonlethal or lethal force to targets with power and minimal collateral damage.
January 30, 2006 Boeing Missile Defense Systems (MDS) has taken delivery of a U.S. Air Force's C-130H transport aircraft to begin preparations for the creation of the first airborn laser gunship under the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) program. Boeing will modify the aircraft to enable it to carry a high-energy chemical laser and battle management and beam control subsystemsand is expected to begin flight testing the aircraft by mid-year with all subsystems on board except the high-energy laser. A low-power surrogate laser will stand in for the kilowatt-class, high-energy laser. As if the existing “Super Spook” AC-130U Gunship
isn’t frightening enough, the ATL gunship will offer speed-of-light, engagement capability with absolute surgical precision. One of the great strengths of ATL is that it avoids the collateral damage sometimes associated with such traditional weapons as bombs and missiles. ATL can produce both lethal and non-lethal effects, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations. It can destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage. As a directed energy weapon, the Advanced Tactical Laser is complementary to the Airborne Laser (ABL)
, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to destroy ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight. ABL consists of a megawatt-class chemical laser mounted on a Boeing 747-400
November 8, 2004 Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS) Ltd., has been tapped by the U. S. Marine Corps to develop a directed energy weapon for use in riot control and other situations requiring less-than-lethal force. The proposed 'StunStrike' prototype will temporarily disable an enemy combatant without using any form of projectile or other means of direct contact. Pictures are unavailable of the SunStrike but XADS has a working model Personal Defence Laser Pointer (see main picture) on the market to dazzle targets.