Coming soon to an AC-130 gunship near you — fricken laser beams.
The USAF has retained some of its spare AC-130U “Spooky” gunships to be used as flying testbeds for emerging laser technologies. According to Lt. Gen, Bradley Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, the idea is that in the not so distant future not only will the new and ever evolving AC-130J Ghostrider be able to cook a single individual in a crowd from on high, or be able to disable vehicles with a high-powered laser, but it will also be able to disperse crowds via a powerful, non-lethal, “active denial system.
Such a system would use rapid bursts of microwave energy over a specific area, which makes individuals feel as if their skin is on fire, while at the same time having no long-lasting effects, if used correctly at least. Active denial systems, often referred to as “pain rays,” have been in development for well over a decade, and have even been tested in prisons here in the U.S., but such an evolved active denial capability would give one of the most deadly flying machines ever invented a true “less than lethal” option.
Is it asking too much for a laser beam powerful enough to melt Nazis? Let’s hope not.
But it isn’t all good news:
Once proven on the AC-130, an airborne active denial system could be deployed to other fixed-wing platforms, and domestic applications are not out of the question.
Let’s stop giving military-grade weapons — especially fricken laser beams — to local cops.