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article imageBAE develops laser weapon to protect ships from Somali pirates

By Kev Hedges     Jan 11, 2011 in Science
An invention developed by scientists at defence giant BAE Systems is set to become the latest weapon against piracy in the waters off the east coast of Africa.
A type of laser weapon which can be used against moving targets will emit a green shroud which forces would-be pirates to become disorientated and temporarily blind. The laser cannon, works during the day or night, has already been tested at Pershore Lasers Trials Range in south-west England. A concentrated blast of green light will dazzle anybody who looks at it.
Pirates often use small six-metre skiffs when approaching potential victims, and scientists have also been developing a high frequency radar to detect these small type vessels at the same time. The radar then works in conjunction with the laser, homing the green hue towards the oncoming pirate boat. The laser will not cause any permanent blindness as this would contravene United Nations guidelines on defence strategy.
Should the pirates come closer to the ship, the laser can be intensified to increase distraction and concentration, reports Mail Online. Bryan Hore, of BAe Systems based in Farnborough, UK says, "sunglasses won't help - It's a warning shot, [The pirates] are looking for targets of opportunity."
According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were 430 pirate attacks in 2010 - an increase of 5.6 per cent on the previous year.
The conclusion from the defence company is they had to develop something that would distract rather than harm or kill pirates and as New Scientist reports, if it gets backing for commercial development it could be made available in a year from now.
More about Laser weapon, Pirates, Somalia, BAE
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