Researchers at the US military are currently progressing with the efforts to develop a lightning laser weapon that can hit frontline targets in a method similar to the striking capability of naturally-produced lightning beams.
US Lightning Laser Weapon
At the US Army's New Jersey-based Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center’s lab, the research team is investigating how specific lasers can produce a highly-charged plasma pathway in the air, which can be tracked by electricity.
Currently under development, the laser-guided lightning weapon possesses a unique precision capability as it has been inclined to strike targets better at conducting electricity compared to that at the ground. Similar to real lightning that can be directed to strike specific ground-based targets, the weapon's beam naturally instigates from its flightpath to hit least resistance areas. Initial tests demonstrate that with 50 billion watts of power, the system's lightning bolts achieve striking. Shorter beams ensure more intense firepower.
The US Army lightning weapon press release states that it is a challenge to transform the background science to a fully-functioning prototype weapon. For instance, Fischer and his team will set up a low power setting before targeting the beam. However, the lack of low power setting is likely to lead to laser explosion.
This highly specialized military technology is one of the several potential weapons projects currently being advanced by US military researchers. The US Army's hypersonic weapon that can reach any part of the world in just 60 min and the US Navy's railgun are the other projects.