[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
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
Whatever the referendum's outcome, energy created by the grassroots independence campaign has changed Scottish politics.
Traders and farmers struggle to cope as restrictions on travel prevent them from doing business and attending to crops.
Unique mobile messaging service, mMitra, helps poor pregnant women in Mumbai fight against maternal mortality.
Influential independence figure has been key in promoting Scottish nationalism, but will his efforts succeed?
join our mailing list