At the interstellar interspection of numerous Star Wars movies and national defense is an array of new weaponry and progress. Welcome to today’s “galaxy far, far away.” Star Wars: The Force Awaken opens in a few weeks in theaters around the globe.
The seventh installment in the Star Wars film series, this latest movie is set approximately 30 years after the Return of the Jedi(1983). It also underscores futuristic technology the defense industry is developing.
From Jack Kilby’s invention of the silicon chip in 1958 to President Ronald Reagan’s comment about the “evil empire” of Russia to the introduction of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), nicknamed Star Wars in 1983, national defense analysts have worked to create what the public sees on the silver screen. Choose your Star Wars-inspired technology. Starting with a Jedi knight’s light saber, Air Force and Army analysts have conducted experiments with a TEC (thermal erosion cutter) Torch.
Held like Luke Skywalker’s sword, the blade burns at 4,000 degrees Farenheit and cuts through half-inch steel bars like a well-sharpened razor shears away two-day-old stubble. The TEC Torch also can be used underwater.
While water borne, one of the navy’s new Star Wars inspired weapons is a laser that delivers destruction by the kilowatt. Under development for years by the defense industry, laser weapons are a reality in the Persian Gulf. Sailor’s aboard the USS Ponce have tested a $40 million, 30 kilowatt laser mounted on the forward deck.
“They sizzle rather than go boom,” wrote Christian Davenport in an article entitled, “The Pentagon’s newest weapons look like something out of “Star Wars.” Sailors have successfully destroyed drones and small boats. lasers travel at the speed of light – a stopwatch stopping 186,000 miles per second – and hit the target almost instantaneously.
As laser weapons become smaller and more powerful, “they will become a “top ten acquistion” priority for the Pentagon within five years,” continued Davenport. While the navy tests its laser gun, Air Force officials are keen on mounting the gun on AC-130 gunships and, they think, on fighter aircraft like the F-22 and F-35.
“Everyone thinks you have a tendecy to talk about high-powered microwaves and lasers, and it’s kind of science fiction,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander, Air Combat Command.
“But this is reality”
Moving at the reality of highway speeds, the Department of Defense has also partnered with engineers in this country and the United Kingdom to develop a hover bike. Leading the way the Army is forging ahead on such vehicle. “The bike would have speed of sixty miles per hour and an altitude of ten feet and provide soldiers with more mobility,” wrote Mike Hoffman in an article entitled “Army Developing a Star Wars-like Hoverbike to Transport Soldiers.”
“The Army would like the bike to carry about four hundred to eight hundred pounds to allow soldiers to pack their weapons and equipment on board.” With laser guns, light sabers and hoverbikes a near reality, so too is increased firepower.
On this target range, the Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun is unsurpassed. “The Navy and Marine Corps” new ‘Star Wars‘ weapon… has the potential to revolutionize naval warfare,” wrote Allison Barie in an article entitled, “U.S. navy’s new ‘Star Wars‘-style railgun hits Mach 6.” Mach 6 is more six times the speed of sound, give or take a tick on the digital speedometer.
The weapon derives its name from its use of rails. High electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor between two rails, creating magnetic fields to launch projectiles. With the resultant electromagnetic force, the gun fires a projectile at a speed approximately 4,500 miles per hour and hitting targets at a range of 100 miles away.
The projectile, dubbed the Hyper Velocity Projectiles (HVP), is 24 inches long and weighs 28 pounds – small and light in comparison with current projectiles. The HVP will be compatible with Naval, Marine and Army artillery systems, in an instance of interservice interoperatbiility.
As to boots on the ground, battle droids may becomea reality in future conflicts. “The military has taken some cues from Star Wars and are now creating their own battle droids,” opined the writers of “9 Pieces of Star Wars Tech Now a Reality.”
“The Robotic war monsters feature an array of big guns, the ability to climb and walk and terrain and loads more of functions developed for warfare.” With Aerosmith’s distinctive music in their circuits, battle drones are ready to walk this way.
Besides the near future development of Star Wars inspired weaponry, some of the once futuristic technology is becoming part of everyday life today. Along with the robots comes an impressive array of technology designed to restore function to human parts lost in battle. think of this as a hardware parts lost in battle. Think of this as a hardware store of interchangeable parts.
When Luke Skywalker lost his right hand to Darth Vader’s lightsaber at he end of The Empire Strikes Back, he is outfitted with a new bionic hand that moves as if it were real.
While this new technology is available today, it is being improved upon as the myoelectric signal system that reads the electric pulses in the arm is improved to interface with the artificial fingers.
Not to be out done, holographic imagery may soon become a reality. In one Star Wars scene, a droid alphanumerically named R2D2 projects a three-dimensional image of Princess Leia to Skywalker asking for help from Obi Wan Kenobi. The hologram is on the verge of becoming part of the near future’s reality.
Nasser Peyghambarian, a professor at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, created the first 3D holographic image technology. “Potential applications of holographic telepresence include advertising, updatable 3D maps and entertainment. Telemedicine is another potential applicaton,” wrote Daniel Stolte in the UA News. With Star War: The Force Awakens, more futuristic ideas will become a reality. The force is now.
Story by J.M. Simpson
Source: The UA News, Military.com and Technology at Fox News
Photos from Military.com