While the US Air Force is dead set on shooting down missiles with airborne lasers
, it looks like their colleagues in the Army are busy cooking up a little something called the Multimode Directed Energy Armament System (see our artist's conceptual rendering, above). According to Wired
, this device uses an ultra-short pulse laser to create an ionized channel through the air, which it can use to send bursts of energy, conduct electricity, or act as a waveguide for an intense pulse of microwaves. If you're looking to knock out an IED, an oncoming vehicle, or an enemy combatant, this bad boy should do the trick just fine. The Army's Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) plans on having a working prototype operating in a the real world sometime in 2011.