Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC): Lightning Bolt on a Laser Beam (Laser/Lightning Weapon)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com

July 12, 2012
Last updated on 7/12/12.

Doctor Doom would really like this weapon. Scientists and Army personnel at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. have apparently been busy developing a super-Taser-type directed energy weapon (DEW) called the Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) that shoots a lightning bolt down a laser beam to send 50 billion (50B)–yes, that's billion, with a "b"–watts of "optical power"/electrical energy into the target, presumably to stun, destroy or kill whatever or whomever it hits, most likely depending on the wattage and/or exposure duration.

Lead scientist George Fischer has been quoted by as saying "We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets)." He went on to say, "If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge,” Fischer said. “During the duration of the laser pulse, it can be putting out more power than a large city needs, but the pulse only lasts for two-trillionths of a second." What Fischer is describing has also been referred-to by the U.S. military as a "nano-second electrical pulse" (nsEP).

That's pretty fast and powerful. But keep in mind the LIPC is still a developmental prototype weapon that will have to contend with Hague Convention rules on military weaponry when and if it's every fully developed, before it can be fielded, even though the U.S. government never actually signed Hague. If you can't burn someone up and suffocate them with a flamethrower, why would you be able to fry them with a Laser Induced Plasma Channel? Because it kills them quicker? Because frying someone with a phaser is more humane than doing it with a literal fire hose? Perhaps, but DefenseReview (DR) isn't currently aware of any specific lethality time limitations placed on weapons by Hague.

So, what's plasma? "If a laser beam is intense enough, its electro-magnetic field is strong enough to rip electrons off of air molecules, creating plasma," said Fischer. "This plasma is located along the path of the laser beam, so we can direct it wherever we want by moving a mirror."

Presently, the key challenge appears to be keeping LIPC from destroying itself. "If the light focuses in air, there is certainly the danger that it will focus in a glass lens, or in other parts of the laser amplifier system, destroying it," Fischer said. "We needed to lower the intensity in the optical amplifier and keep it low until we wanted the light to self-focus in air." According to the piece on LIPC, other challenges include "synchronizing the laser with the high voltage, ruggedizing the device to survive under the extreme environmental conditions of an operational environment, and powering the system for extended periods of time."

Anyone familiar with military hardware and logistics can tell you that power generation, specifically on-board mobile battery power for infantry warfighters, has been and continues to be a significant challenge for the U.S. military, but the LIPC is likely going to be a vehicle-mounted weapon, so adequate power generation may not be an issue.

By the way, in case anyone out there is thinking that this weapon tech is reminiscent of the XADS StunStrike CQSR (Close Quarters Shock Rifle) tech, you're not alone. Defense Review was thinking the same thing.

Related Articles:

SPA Defense/XADS TR3 Laser Rifle for Ship Defense/Anti-Piracy Operations: Hit ‘em with the Big Green Laser Beam!

Dazer Laser: Safer than a Taser? Me Oh My, It Looks Like a Phaser. Bad guys better watch out…while they still can! (Video!)

StunStrike CQSR (Close Quarters Shock Rifle) by XADS: Futuristic Stun Gun Tech

Manpackable Laser Weapons on the Way for U.S. Military’s Future Soldiers?

New Laser Dazzler Technologies for Infantry Warfare, Counterinsurgency Ops, and LE Apps

Northrop Grumman Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) Shipborne High-Energy Laser (HEL) Tested Successfully: Next Stop, Somali Pirates!

Lasing Skulls in the Digital Age: Tactical Laser Weapons Finally Maturing for Future Warfare Applications: Meet the Boeing ATL (Advanced Tactical Laser) Airborne Laser Weapon

Shipborne Raytheon Laser Weapon System (LaWS) Shoots Down Four Drone Aircraft over the Water in U.S. Navy Test (Video!): Can it Protect our Aircraft Carriers from the Latest Above-Water Threats?

Deployable Weapons-Grade Solid-State Tactical Lasers by the end of 2008?

TASER XREP (eXtended Range Electronic Projectile) Less-Lethal Shotgun Round

TASER X26 Less-Lethal Weapon System Gets Audio/Video Recording Capability

TASER X26 Less-Lethal Weapon for Police/LE 1st Responders

Video: Thor Shield Anti-Taser/Anti-Microwave Weapon Tech

Man-Portable PHaSR Laser Weapon Being Developed for U.S. Military Infantry Forces?

Air Force and ATK Developing Directed Energy Weapons to Defeat Explosive Devices

Stavatti SF-1 Gasdynamic Laser Rifle. Individual Combat Weapon of the Future?

Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC): Lightning Bolt on a Laser Beam (Laser/Lightning Weapon) by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

Check Also

Mantis X10 Elite, Blackbeard/BlackbeardX and Laser Academy Home/Indoor Dry Fire Training Systems for Keeping Your Shooting Skills Sharp!

By David Crane david (at) defensereview (dot) com August 31, 2023 Last updated on 9/03/23 …