Fact is American military capabilities are marginal. And other powers are looking at taking advantage. Just yesterday, the Hudson Institute (an international-affairs think tank in Washington) hosted a scary panel on the Chinese military. Meanwhile, faced with rising threats, shrinking budgets, dwindling capabilities and lousy leadership, the Pentagon is scratching for ways to keep up. For one, the Air Force recently revealed it’s taking a second look at putting lasers back in the air.
The Pentagon had an initiative mounting a laser on a 747. In 2010, the prototype had a successful test. But in 2012, the Obama administration mothballed the program and sent the plane to the boneyard. Now, the Air Force wants to try sticking a new generation of lasers on drones.
For a long time our military has longed for directed energy weapons (ever since the last century when Nikola Tesla claimed he could build a death ray). In recent decades, the services have struggled to find directed energy weapons with the right combination of weight, power, and reliability that would make them suitable as lethal instruments.
And it is not just freaking lasers that the Pentagon hopes will deliver them game-changer advantages. Robotics are big with the services as well. The Navy just announced it’s buying “first-responder” robots for the fleet.
Unfortunately, it is a role of the dice over whether new tech will cover the shortfalls of an underfunded and poorly run Pentagon. Its a fool’s errand to hope technology can substitute for serious military planning.
But hey, at the very least the boys will finally get their death-ray guns.