Plasma shield offers dynamic pulse detonation
The US Army hopes, within a few years, to deploy a plasma shield – a machine that generates a protective screen of dazzling mid-air explosions – to stun and disorient an enemy.Who will volunteer for those tests? It sounds like an interesting weapon but no graphics were available. The first weapon systems sounds like a laser light show at a rock concert. I very different shock and awe. It might be of some value in disorienting an enemy prior to an attack.
The device uses a technology known as dynamic pulse detonation (DPD). A short but intense laser pulse creates a ball of plasma, and a second laser pulse generates a supersonic shockwave with the plasma to generate a bright flash and a loud bang.
The Plasma Acoustic Shield System will eventually combine a dynamic pulse detonation laser with a high power speaking for hailing or warning, and a dazzler light source. PASS has already been demonstrated by the system's makers, Stellar Photonics.
"It is fair to say that any stunning or disabling of a target individual would require additional force on target," says Braun. "The current state-of-the-art in portable, rugged laser systems is not at the point of sufficient power."
The company has also pitched a portable laser rifle, which would be lethal, to the US Army. It would weigh about fifteen kilograms, would have a range of more than a mile, and could have numerous advantages over existing rifles – better accuracy and the ability to hit a moving target at the speed of light.
It could also be used in non-lethal mode, "offering the individual soldier a first response non-lethal alternative, with the capability to go lethal should the situation call for that level of response", says Braun. But extensive testing of its effects on humans would need to be carried out before it could be legitimately used as a non-lethal weapon.