DARPA is at it again folks (or, really, do they ever quit?). According to this article, the USA is set to acquire a new prototype laser weapons system, capable of being fit onto a flatbed truck, for operational defense against aircraft, missiles, even mortar rounds:
One notable thing about this article however, and that is its insistence that atmospheric distortion limits the operationally effective range of lasers, and that, of course, is true. This was indeed one of the primary public criticisms of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Defenders of the program back then pointed to the existence of sophisticated projects to design mirrors with adjustable surfaces controlled by computers to compensate for such distortion. In other words, the fact was known for a long time, and the real point is that the defense departments of the world investigating the use of lasers as practical weapons were perforce required to deal with the problem of the atmospheric distortion and diffusion of the beam.
What the article also misses is the phenomenon of optical phase conjugation, which in this author’s opinion was precisely a discovery that was occasioned by this military research in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, with its actual discovery probably predating its public disclosure (indeed, as I argued in the SS Brotherhood of the Bell, the phenomenon may have actually been discovered by the Nazis toward the end of World War Two). To put this principle as succinctly and simply as possible, a laser beam is shot at a target and a picture or template is made of the distortion, and the actual weaponized beam is shot through the picture, so to speak, emerging on the target in an undistorted form. The procedure is complicated but the real point seems to me to be that if the military is now contracting for battlefield prototypes of such weapons, then this can only mean that they have been successful in a multitude of areas of making such technologies portable enough to be deployed on the battlefield.