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Old January 14 2011, 09:35 PM   #4
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Treknology - what's next?

^ Actually, China's been developing laser dazzlers since the mid 1990s. They're not designed to blow things up per se, mainly to emit high-powered laser beams that cause permanent damage to enemy sensors and/or vision. It was mainly intended as a sneaky way of shooting down enemy helicopters by blinding the hell out of the pilot or at least scramblig his targeting system, but they have since retired it from use under the auspices of the U.N.

The Inquisitor wrote: View Post
As far as I'm aware there are no laws governing the use of laser based weapons in warfare as the weapons do not yet truely exist in a capacity where they can be used in open warfare.
Incorrect. Land-based lasers are effectively restricted by U.N. conventions to be used ONLY in an anti-material role where there is no risk of inducing permanent blindness on enemy combatants. That is to say, any use of a laser that might cause eye damage constitutes a war crime.

On some level this is a little silly, because a man caught in a laser weapon powerful enough to be lethal probably isn't going to live long enough to worry about his eyesight. On the other hand, a laser that ISN'T powerful enough to kill him can still permanently blind him, and that sort of weapon would be cheaper to develop and easier to deploy anyway. So the convention is, it doesn't matter if the laser weapon also burns a grown man to a cinder in three seconds flat, if it can cause blindness, it's illegal to use against human targets.

This, by the way, is part of the problem with the Airborne Laser. It has to be powerful enough to shoot down ICBMs because there is no other target it can legally engage (other than maybe UAVs) without committing a war crime. As it stands, it would ALREADY be a fairly effective close air support weapon, using that laser to burn down entire columns of enemy troops, armored vehicles, bunkers, etc... but ask the Pentagon why that functionality isn't included in the design, they'll usually just change the subject.
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