The Marine Corps is ready for laser weapons, but officials say they need to shrink them first

marines laser weapons f16fighterjet
The Marines want to move toward laser weaponry as soon as possible, but current technologies aren’t there yet. The comments came as part of a larger discussion that was hosted by military publication National Defense Magazine earlier this week.

According to Marine Corps Combat Development Command head Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the Marine Corps would first start with putting the system on its KC-130 tanker planes. Walsh says the plane is a better fit to start due to its size, weight, and power restrictions, and due to the space needed for current laser weapons.

It wouldn’t stop there, though. The service also wants to put directed-energy weapons on just about anything it has in its arsenal, including F-35 fighter jets, Cobras, and other attack vehicles and planes. Before that, there is a lot of work to do, mainly because current laser weapon technology is just too unwieldy, and paraphrasing Walsh’s comments, an optimal system is a long way off.

So why is the Marine Corps so hot on laser weapons? Simply put, it’s all about cost savings. Missiles carried by these fighter jets can cost upward of $300,000 — and once they’re fired at a target there’s no reuse. While laser weapons may have a higher cost of manufacture, the fact that they are reusable leads to huge cost savings down the road.

For Washington, D.C. bureaucrats who are interested in cutting government costs — especially the huge defense budget — this seems like a simple way to do it. At this point, a lot of work remains to miniaturize these systems down to a size that works on planes other than the massive KC-130 though, Walsh admits.

The Marines aren’t the only division of the military to look toward laser weaponry: over the past few years both the Air Force and Navy too have begun work on similar systems. But regardless of the service, it doesn’t look like field weaponry will be ready until 2020, at the earliest.

Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.

Among hundreds of choices, these are the best 25 SNES games of all time

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games.

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…