For those of us reared on a diet of Star Wars, Star Trek, and our fathers’ copies of The Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (we’ll just ignore the cheesy 1980s TV series, thank you very much), the era of the ray gun zapping the bad guys may be upon us. Sort of.
These proposed ship-mounted guns are a far cry from the hand-cranked and aimed machine and anti-aircraft guns that you see anytime you watch a movie about World War II. Sleek and accurate, these are fully stabilized systems that lock on and stay locked on even as the ship is pitching and rolling (an ideal application for KVH’s fiber optic gyros). The idea of adding an actual laser – not simply to aim but to use as a weapon – to increase the range and effectiveness is definitely crossing over into the realm of science fiction. Of course, we’re not seeing flashing beams of lights and instant explosions like Han Solo’s blaster here but clearly, there is a certain quiet, ominous effectiveness when you see the effect of in such a weapon at sea.
While the lasers are a new addition, the concept of stabilized weapons is already a proven game changer in the field, both for mission effectiveness as well as for soldier safety with the most widely fielded systems relying on KVH’s fiber optic gyros to stabilize the cameras used for aiming as well as the weapon itself during the firing and recoil process. A perfect example is how mobile ground troops have gone from bouncing around exposed in the back of jeeps with a .50 caliber machine gun like in an old episode of Rat Patrol to this.
No ray guns zapping targets yet but they really don’t seem that far away anymore.