US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) plans to test laser weapons on its AC-130 gunships within a year.
The laser beams would be a defence against incoming missiles or enemy jets. The range or effectivenes of the lasers is not yet known.
AFSOC is eager to run tests so it can determine whether the laser is effective and to demonstrate to possible skeptics that it works, Breakingdefense reported Thursday.
“Can we control the beam accurately?, There’s enough scar tissue that exists from programs in the past that we should show this can be done,” Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, head of AFSOC said, referring to the late and largely Airborne Laser, which was over-budget and late and eventually determined to be unfeasible for military use.
Webb said AFSOC hasn’t “decided where the laser would go.” The tests will help determine that, as well as which mix of weapons is most effective. His predecessor, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, said the laser would probably go on the left side of the plane.
Heithold added, “The reason that I want it on an AC-130 is, when an AC-130 starts firing kinetic weaponry, everybody knows you’re there. What I want on the airplane is to be able to silently disable something.”