Washington, Jan 21 (ANI): In what could be considered a major breakthrough, the US navy has passed a major milestone in its quest to build an extremely powerful anti-aircraft gun that will be equipped with mega-watt free electron lasers.
Scientists with the Navy's Office of Naval Research have demonstrated a prototype system capable of producing from thin air the electrons needed to generate ultrapowerful, 'megawatt-class' laser beams for the agency's next-generation system.
"The injector performed as we predicted all along. But until now, we didn't have the evidence to support our models. We were so happy to see our design, fabrication and testing efforts finally come to fruition," Fox News quoted Dinh Nguyen, of the Free Electron Laser (FEL) program at the Los Alamos National Lab, as saying.
FEL technology generates powerful laser beams by passing a stream of electrons through magnetic fields.
FEL lasers can also be calibrated more specifically for anti-aircraft purposes, the Navy said, to adjust for precipitation, cloud cover, or humidity.
Quentin Saulter, FEL program manager for the Navy's research arm, said the implications of the FEL's progress are monumental.
"This is a major leap forward for the program and for FEL technology throughout the Navy. The fact that the team is nine months ahead of schedule provides us plenty of time to reach our goals by the end of 2011," said Saulter.
The research team hopes to have a full-power prototype by 2018, which would have the ability to instantly blast targets in the sky. (ANI)