We’ve always known that the wars of the future would be fought with laser weapons and, well, here we are in the future. The militaries of all three of the world’s superpowers - China, Russia, and the US - are busy developing laser weapons presumably capable of zapping a human being into dust in mere seconds. Or at least causing an excruciatingly painful burn. I mean, it’s 2019 after all. If we can’t have flying cars we might as well have giant death ray lasers, right?
This week, government and technology watchdog site Nextgov spotted a curious document published by the Naval Surface Warfare Center at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The weapons research facility published a solicitation for contractors to bid on destruction services, a fairly common occurrence in top-secret research circles. However, the nature of the materials to be destroyed is somewhat conspicuous: the Navy needs someone to destroy 4,000 pounds of hard disks and other digital media related to its laser weapons research and to do so with the utmost secrecy and security. What does this mean for the US military’s research into directed energy weapons?
It’s hard to say, as all of the materials slated for destruction are classified. The call for bids states that for an incineration facility to be considered for the contract, it must be within ten driving hours of White Sands Missile Range, be capable of destroying the materials down to ash within eight to ten hours, and have “at the minimum, secure entry, 24-hour armed guards and 24/7 camera surveillance with recordable date and time capabilities.” What could be stored in these media that’s so sensitive?
According to Nextgov, the Navy’s call for bids disappeared within hours. Has someone won the contract to destroy all of this secret weapons research? What does this revelation mean for the Navy’s development of directed energy weapons? Have they perfected a design and no longer need all of the prototypes and test data produced along the way? As with all things related to secret weapons research, we’ll likely never know - until the laser beams start flying.
Invest in welding goggles.