Pentagon wants a lightning gun

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Lightning guns are often thought of as weapons of science fiction, relegated to the pages of magazines, movie screens and video games.

However, the US Department of Defense (DoD) is currently attempting to develop a laser capable of shooting lightning bolts.

Yes, the US Army has actually managed to develop a prototype weapon at the Picatinny Arsenal that could eventually be deployed against ground-based and aerial targets.

The only problem? The Laser-Induced Plasma Channel requires an enormous amount of electricity.

"We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets)," George Fischer, the lead scientist on the project, told Army.mil.

Although the actual lightning bolt only lasts two-trillionths of a second the overall power output - 50 billion watts - is enough to power a large city. Frankly, this weapon seems to be more than a little at odds with the military's new green push, as the lightning gun clearly consumes an enormous amount of power.

"If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge," Fischer added.