Thanks to the crisis in Libya, terms like "no fly zone," "air defense" and "anti-aircraft missiles" are bombarding the headlines once again with a vengeance.
Although the UN-sanctioned, US-led (at the onset) mission has been relatively successful in crippling Colonel Gaddafi's anti-aircraft defenses, the Air Force is already examining possible ways of neutralizing threats to military aircraft in future conflicts.
Currently, enemy anti-aircraft artillery sensors are eliminated by bombs or pre-programmed missiles such as the upgraded Tomahawk.
However, the Air Force would like a laser so powerful that it disables any tracking sensors within range.
As such, the DoD has kicked off a research initiative known as the High Power Laser Effect for Counter Sensor Engagement, with the Pentagon requesting additional data about various methods that can be harnessed to disable sensors.
The technology would have to be capable of supporting enough power to facilitate the firing of a beam from 10 kilometers away at a massive kilojoule per cubic centimeter.
The 10km range suggests the laser will probably be mounted on a manned or autonomous military plane, which would be tasked with scouring enemy territory and disabling sensors before the fighter jets and bombers follow.
[Via Wired Danger Room]