Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top Story

Anti-pirate laser being tested

Sailors may soon have a weapon in their battle against sea-borne raiders: an anti-pirate laser.

BAE Systems has demonstrated its new laser system, which can temporarily blind would-be attackers. The system would prevent pirates from being able to aim their weapons at targets, BAE claims.

But further safety testing is needed before such a system could be commercially deployed.

BAE said it has developed a low-cost laser distraction system that can travel through the sea air while being housed onboard a moving ship.

At distances of between 1.2km (0.75 miles) and 1.5km (0.85 miles), the laser beam acts as a warning signal, letting the pirates know they've been spotted, said Brian Hore of BAE.

At closer ranges, the green laser beam will dazzle them, making it difficult for the pirates to use weapons of their own, said Mr Hore.

Green lasers - which have been shown to interfere with eyesight - have been used by the U.S. military in Iraq and to temporarily blind targets.

The International Chamber Of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau said there were 430 pirate attacks worldwide reported last year, up from 406 in 2009.

-BBC News

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