As we all know from my somewhat sarcastic-but-still-truthful ramblings on the military’s high-energy laser program, the government spends more money on defense than they do on a pretty large percentage of anything else. Some new information on Boeing’s High-Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) was just released, and apparently it’s still on and being funded.
Boeing was granted a $36 million dollar contract to develop the HEL TD program back in August 2008 – you might remember such other programs in this stream of laser-based weapons that the government is currently investing in like the YAL-1.
A press release on Boeing’s website tells of the new progress of the the HEL TD program – a company called Oshkosh Defense (no relation to the B’Gosh people that I can find) is making trucks that the US military uses in combat. This company has created a new truck that Boeing is going to mount some of its HEL TD laser gear to and drive out into the desert. From the press release:
“This demonstration program has successfully transitioned from the design phase to the fabrication phase,” said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems’ Directed Energy Systems unit. “This transformational, solid-state laser weapon capability will provide speed-of-light, ultra-precision capability that will dramatically improve warfighters’ ability to counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles.”
The eight-wheel, 500-horsepower HEMTT A4, a widely used military tactical vehicle, will be shipped to Boeing’s facility in Huntsville this spring for integration with the laser’s rugged beam control system (BCS). The program has already begun receiving BCS components from suppliers.
The fact that the system will use lasers to blow up “enemy” projectiles and such is pretty cool to me, actually, and at some point I will accept what I cannot change. What really sucks to me is that I often wonder things like “will we have flying cars in my lifetime?” and “will we have light sources that last for decades for real in my lifetime?” Every time I read about the wars that are ongoing, every time I report on some new military laser project that is ongoing, the question “will I ever experience peace in my lifetime?” gets more and more faded.