Air Force hopes to do hazard reduction with lasers

Raytheon laser

The terms “hazard reduction” and “laser” are rarely, if ever, used in the same sentence, but the U.S. Air Force is ready to pay up to $150,000 for the first phase of development of a weapon device that:

…uses directed energy technology to prevent and abate unwanted plants (weeds) in areas that require control or defoliation. The purpose of this system will be the removal of unwanted plants and keep seeds from germinating.

“Directed energy” could include lasers, microwaves, or sound. Like many property owners, the Air Force has a need to remove weeds, and they are looking for a method that does not use herbicides which have “negative impacts on bird populations”. They have already looked into this subject and decided that it may be feasible. Here are more details from their “Proposal Submission Instructions

Having a cost effective device that eliminates the use of herbicides or reduces the amount of machinery could extensively save money and protect wildlife at the same time. Private industry has been actively engaged in the research, development, and deployment of various physical control technologies utilizing microwave radiation (as heat), lasers, and sound to deter, disrupt, deny, or degrade the desired objective. Thermal technologies such as foam, hot water, steam and quenched hot gases to physically rupture cell membranes within young, vigorous green weeds to shut down the plant’s capacity for photosynthesis, has been explored as a means for safe, effective weed control . The technological challenge is to develop a device that would effectively destroy weeds in various growth stages from seeds to maturity using some form of directed energy in designated areas.

Oh, and by the way, the device “must not be able to target personnel or wildlife”.

The Military has been experimenting with many types of lasers for decades. Here are a couple of examples.

Raytheon laser
Concept for Raytheon's CIRCM laser which would jam missile guidance systems. Raytheon.

Raytheon has developed a laser system for helicopters designed to jam missle guidance systems.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Drew F. Goettler, of the Air Force Research Laboratory' Directed Energy Directorate, demonstrates the Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response, or PHaSR, a non-lethal illumination technology developed by the laboratory's ScorpWorks team. Air Force courtesy photo

Air Force Research Laboratory employees at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., are developing the first man-portable, non-lethal deterrent weapon intended for protecting troops and controlling hostile crowds.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Air Force hopes to do hazard reduction with lasers”

  1. SAWEET!!
    No more FAL A,B, or C certs if it came to timber, huh?

    Zapping timber in the future? Zapping beetle kill Pondo pine and PJ? How would that hold up to the NEPA process? Be great with the highly effective UH60’s pictured in the artist’s rendition.

    Weed control and dead or dying timber? I say, why not? Might be a lame ass idea whose time has come. YYYEEEEEHAWW


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