Since the Golden Age of Science Fiction, stories of future soldiers with laser guns have been among the most enduring tropes in all of genre fiction. And now it looks like fiction is about to become fact.
In a question-and-answer session with lawmakers, U.S. Army representative Mary J. Miller said that American armed forces will be equipped with high-energy laser weapons by the year 2023.
Zapped! U.S. Navy Deploys Laser Weapons
Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Miller said the Army is committed to developing offensive and defensive directed-energy weapons, including high-energy lasers. While some directed-energy systems are already online, like the Navy's XN1-LaWS program, the military has largely held off on deploying laser weapons.
"Lasers have been promised for a long time, but they've never held up and delivered what was asked for, so the operators are rightfully skeptical," Miller said to lawmakers. However, the Army is currently testing laser weapons in "operational environments" with the goal of delivering reliable directed-energy weapon systems within 10 years.