Britain is offered US laser weapons: 'Non-lethal' devices may violate war laws
Yesterday the MoD admitted there was frequent discussion with the US on 'a range of technologies', but said it would be 'inappropriate to comment on the specifics'.
The weapon, manufactured by Martin Marietta, of Orlando, Florida, is only one of a range of 'non-lethal' weapons which military experts believe has great potential.
There are many operations - such as that in Bosnia - where using massive conventional firepower to blow other forces to pieces would be politically unacceptable.
Apart from their greater political acceptability, the new 'non-lethal' weapons are also needed to enhance the effects of conventional weapons deployed by lighter - and therefore more vulnerable - forces as part of the growing need for rapid deployment anywhere in the world.
Besides lasers, the 'non-lethal' weapons include computer viruses, quick-hardening polymer foam and low-frequency sound.
According to a report in the latest International Defense Review, published by UK-based Jane's Information Group, the Martin Marietta system, known as 'Outrider', derived from the 'Stingray' low-energy laser, targets the optics and laser technology in enemy combat vehicles, destroying them with laser energy.
Two prototypes were mounted on Bradley Armoured Fighting vehicles in the 1991 Gulf war, but were not used because the campaign was so brief.
The US Army has awarded Martin Marietta a contract to develop the 'Outrider' system for use on Hummer cross-country vehicles. IDR said presentations had also been made to US Marine Corps and British MoD representatives.
Martin Marietta envisages the Outrider being used with a conventional weapon - the TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) missile. The missile has to be guided towards its target for 17 seconds, during which time the launch vehicle is vulnerable. The laser, which travels at the speed of light, prevents the target vehicle from detecting the missile until it has arrived.
Although at first sight attractive because they disable the enemy without killing directly, 'non-lethal' weapons may violate the existing laws of war. Rupert Pengelly, IDR's editor-in-chief, said the International Red Cross had shown concern about systems of this type as they could blind people looking through optical sights.
During the Gulf war, the British were extremely concerned about Russian-made lasers believed to be in service with the Iraqis and issued special goggles developed by the Defence Research Agency's Malvern branch (formerly the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment) to armoured vehicle crews.
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Hijackers, pirates or suicide – the theories surrounding the mystery
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Nemanja Matic interview: My family were in tears when we left Lisbon
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...