By Evan Ackerman
It’s not sexy, but here it is: a real live commercially produced laser cannon. The FIRESTRIKE system, by Northrop Grumman, is a 15 kW electric laser capable of firing continuously as long as it gets power and coolant. It’s even got en Ethernet connection, so you can zap people and surf the internet at the same time! If you’re really ambitious, you can couple up to seven of them together to make a 100 kW laser, which is just about the minimum you’d need for an effective combat system.
The downside is that each module is about 400 pounds, which unfortunately puts it well out of the handheld class. And I assume you can’t just pop a couple Duracells in there, nor does it appear to have a wall plug. But the worst part is that it’s just not evil looking. I mean, it’s a mostly featureless totally boring gray box. It really should be put inside a case that looks like something from Star Wars (the third one, with the stupidly high SFX budget), with some skull and crossbones decals on it and an absurdly gigantic barrel with lots of blinky LED lights and smoke machines and sound effects.
Oh well, I can’t find a price, and if I were Northrop Grumman, I definitely wouldn’t sell a tactical laser system to someone like me.