US Air Force enters testing for Star Wars-style laser-weapon plane

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It looks like real life is finally catching up to science fiction, as the US Air Force has received their first fighter-mounted laser weapon. Are we nearing a future where weapons will actually make the “pew pew” noises? Are we that much closer to a real-life Star Wars-like conflict in the near future?

A new kind of LANCE

The Warzone reports that the US Air Force recently got their first Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE) airborne laser weapon last February. Apparently, the LANCE is a much more compact version of previous experimental laser weapons and even has reduced power requirements so it can be put into an air fighter, similar to spaceships in Star Wars.

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Currently, the power output for this US Air Force laser isn’t known yet, though The Warzone claims that it could be below 100 kilowatts. Tests are still being performed to see if this Star Wars-like laser weapon can be of any use. Apparently, the US Air Force might be using the LANCE as a defensive weapon, something that can take out seeker missiles rather than cause damage to enemy planes.

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Preparing for war?

While the LANCE is a solid enough defensive weapon, it seems that the US Air Force wants something more powerful in case something big happens. Asia Times points out how the LANCE doesn’t come close to the hypersonic weapons that China and Russia have, with the latter country currently at war with Ukraine.

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More powerful lasers are currently too big for the US Air Force’s fighters, making them a bad choice for aerial combat. A more likely scenario is that scientists will keep working on more formidable weapons that can fit in these fighters. The LANCE might not be the gamechanger that’s needed but it’s not a useless weapon either.