Boeing has patented a plasma force field envisioned to protect military vehicles against shock waves generated from blasts.
Though the plasma force field is still just a patent, if it’s ever realized, it could cocoon any vehicle and shield from energy emitted by nearby blasts. The company confirmed that it is trying to build defense systems that can match the rapid advancement in weapons that are increasingly more dangerous and are now powerful enough to pierce the hull of vehicles that are armored.
Aerospace and defense giant Boeing was awarded a patent to develop a force field-like system that could protect military vehicles from shockwaves following explosions from missiles or Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Boeing’s proposed system involves using a combination of lasers, electricity, and microwaves.
These three technologies working in tandem will quickly heat up the air around the vehicle. In certain cases, the engineers plan to only heat the air that is in between the vehicle and the blast, thereby reducing energy requirement. This heated air will transform into a plasma shield that’s denser than the surrounding air and will be able to deflect or absorb the energy from the incoming shock wave.
Boeing cautions, the plasma force-field won’t work to prevent a direct attack or precision-guided missile strike, as is shown in science-fiction movies, neither will it be effective in stopping flying shrapnel and debris.
Sensors and computers mounted on a vehicle or a building could detect the velocity and shape of an incoming threat. The system would also be able to determine the size and force of the resulting explosion and create a barrier of hot air that would absorb just the shock-wave. In simple terms, the plasma force field is meant to divert, reflect, or absorb the energy generated by a blast.
Though it might seem the force field has limited scope, shock waves generated by bombs many-a-times cause equal if not greater damage to structures, rendering them unusable at best, or unstable at worst. Establishments like nuclear missile silos or power plants could be fortified against the incoming energy blast.
Though Boeing doesn’t have a fixed timeline to make and deliver the plasma force-field, it has outlined several different iterations and possibilities where it could be deployed. Moreover, rapid generation of plasma mid-air may not have domestic applications, but defense forces can certainly extend the vision of Boeing.
Having witnessed how mere sound can extinguish flames, mid-air plasma force-field doesn’t seem farfetched.
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