Senate Loses The Plot
Both of these weapons are a long way off, but both could have huge implications in the civilian world, like almost everything else the military researches. I’m all for cutting back on defense spending, personnel is a good place to do that, but capabilities are not. It takes from 8-11 weeks depending on the service to get a new service member through their basic training, so personnel is a good place to make cutbacks (anywhere from 4 weeks to years of additional training depending on the job, but to produce minimally competent soldiers, it’s pretty quick). Future abilities and the stockpiling of materials are poor place to make these cuts, given the years between development and production of technology.
I’m not very familiar with the laser, but the rail gun I know quite a bit about and the possibilities are many. If it can be made to work. Essentially a projectile is sped up using electromagnets instead of explosives and when it comes out… It’s moving right along. No explosives in the projectile either, pure kinetic energy, so much of it that upon impact these projectiles set the air on fire.
But the big deal is the lack of explosives. Much safer than what we currently use. Civilian applications could be many, but the one I’ve heard talked about the most is delivering small payloads to orbit, for a small fraction of the cost and effort needed to launch a rocket.
We need to make cuts, and R&D is likely a place where many many cuts can be made. But the relatively small cost of both of these projects, and the possible benefits attached to their success should take them off the chopping block for now. Both projects have recently had big successes, and promise huge cost savings down the road, so why they have been chopped is anyone’s guess.
And a bitchin’ video.