Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new laser-based countermeasure for aircraft, and unlike others we've seen (and we've seen a few) this technology aims to "blind" missiles rather than knock 'em out of the sky. The system uses a mid-infrared supercontinuum laser to mimic the heat signature of a helicopter, and it has no moving parts -- making it rugged enough to last a long time on rotor-based aircraft. The school has even spun off a company, Omni Sciences, to develop the thing, and has received some $1 million in grants from the Army and DARPA to build a second-generation prototype. Of course, questions remain: is it really a wargadget if you can't blow something up with it? And even if it is, where's the fun in that?

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U of M laser mimics helicopter heat signatures to thwart missiles