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The U.S. Military’s Greatest Weapon Ever

We’ve witnessed extraordinary technological progress over the last several years.

In some cases, the kind of fantasies only dreamed of in science fiction have now become real-life breakthroughs.

Take our smartphones, for example, which are now akin to the communicator and tricorder from Star Trek – all in one bundle.

Or the fantastic advancements in robotics that resemble the droids from Star Wars.

Now, the newest mind-blowing innovation  comes from Boeing (BA).

The company has patented an incredible invention that could one day protect our troops from two of the most dangerous threats they face on the battlefield.

Combating the Shock(wave)

When an explosive device is detonated right on its intended target, the effects are devastating.

But even when they don’t hit the bull’s eye, they can still cause untold damage. Explosives in air or water create shockwaves that travel faster than the speed of sound. The force can destroy buildings and overturn vehicles.

These shockwaves also carry shrapnel and other debris from the explosion, which can cause serious injury or death, and damage equipment.

Paradoxically, the very protective clothing designed to protect soldiers from the initial blast can actually increase the damage from the shockwave.

Boeing has a better, ingenious solution for dealing with these shockwaves and shrapnel injuries…

May the Force (Field) Be With You!

It’s made a force field!

Boeing’s patent application proposes the ultimate high tech in order to protect soldiers – using lasers, ionizing pellets, or even projectiles to place a high-energy electric arc between the shockwave and the target – e.g., ground forces, a vehicle carrying troops, or a battleship.

How does it work?

In its simplest terms, the electric arc superheats the air in the protection area, essentially creating a shockwave that moves in the opposite direction. This “anti-shockwave” deflects and dissipates the incoming shockwave and accompanying shrapnel so that what reaches the intended target is a pale shadow of the previously devastating shockwave.

That’s the practical part.

But in order for Boeing’s force field to work at all, the company has had to develop a way to detect incoming shockwaves in the first place. The system needs to find out where the wave is coming from… then aim and deploy the lasers and other elements that create the electric arc… and then actually make the arc.

Oh, and the whole system needs to work in just a few milliseconds!

The Military’s Greatest Weapon Ever

With a system this complicated and high tech, it will take time for Boeing to push its force field technology from patent application to deployment. But the fact that it’s working on such a breakthrough means there could come a day when the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to our troops is vastly diminished.

The future of this system could hold even greater potential, too.

For example, while you think that this IED-fighting system is just another example of the Pentagon (or its contractors, in this case) “fighting the last war” with ground troops, the technology could be expanded.

Imagine if every military vehicle had a virtually bulletproof shield installed. Or Navy ships had superheated force fields so large and strong that they could deflect missiles and torpedoes.

Boeing’s force field isn’t quite the full-on force field of science fiction – yet. But its patent application could be just the beginning of an entirely new way of protecting our troops in battle.

To living and investing in the future,

Greg Miller

Greg Miller

, Senior Analyst

View More By Greg Miller