[QODLink]
Inside Story

Star Wars weapons: Is fantasy becoming fact?

Advances in hi-tech weaponry fuel fears of a global space arms race.

Last updated: 15 Apr 2014 20:56
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

It conjures up visions of sci-fi movies and video games but advances in high-tech weaponry are raising fears of a space arms race.

China is looking to boost its military power in space. Visiting air force headquarters on Monday, President Xi Jinping told officers to 'speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities'.

Beijing maintains that its space programme is peaceful but that stance was questioned when China used a ground-based missile to destroy one of its own satellites in orbit in 2007; and a rocket launch last May, billed as a research mission, was suspected of being a test for a new anti-satellite weapon.

The US has developed its own futuristic weaponry and is planning to deploy the world’s first-ever combat laser. The Laser Weapon System looks like a small telescope, but it's powerful enough to fire laser beams through steel.

The laser is capable of shooting down things like enemy drones, but unlike in the movies, you will not see the laser ray, because it is infrared - and invisible.

It is comparatively cheap too: one zap of the laser is estimated to cost just one dollar. Compare that to a single Tomahawk cruise missile which has a reported price tag of $1.4 million.

So is the stuff of science fiction becoming a reality? And are high-tech weapons driving a new arms race in space?

Presenter Hazem Sika

Guests: 

Peter Roberts - senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and a former Royal Navy officer

Tim Brown - senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org

Andrew Leung - an independent China analyst

274

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list