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Army Looks to Strike Foes with Lightning Weapon

Live Science
June 25, 2012

photo
A guided lightning bolt travels horizontally, then hits a car when it finds the lower resistance path to ground in a U.S. Army test.
CREDIT: U.S. Army | Picatinny Arsenal

Today’s military lasers can blind spy satellites or burn enemy vehicles, but tomorrow’s could guide lightning bolts to strike and destroy battlefield targets.

A U.S. Army lab is testing how lasers can create an energized plasma channel in the air — an invisible pathway for electricity to follow. The laser-guided lightning weapon could precisely hit targets such as enemy tanks or unexploded roadside bombs, because such targets represent better conductors for electricity than the ground.

“We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets),” said George Fischer, lead scientist on the project at the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

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