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New laser weapon to defend ships from pirates

British experts have come up with a weapon that has the ability to dazzle pirates on the high seas.
BAE Systems, Farnborough, has developed a non-lethal, long-range laser weapon that can temporarily damage a man's eyesight from as far as 1,500 m, reports New Scientist.
The weapon has been successfully tested using optical sensors on non-human targets stationed 1,200 m away.
In an effort to find an answer to the long-standing pirates problem, BAE scientists conducted a study. It was later agreed upon to develop an automatic weapon that can leave the pirates in disarray and discomfort rather than one that causes permanent injury or loss of life.
Bryan Hore of BAE Systems said the effect that the weapon will have on a man's eye is similar to what one experiences while accidentally looking at the sun.
The weapon produces a 1-metre wide stream of green laser light whose intensity can be adjusted depending on the atmospheric conditions and the location of the target. This ensures that there won't be permanent damage to the eyesight, he said.
Wearing sunglasses will only aggravate the effect, as the laser looks brighter against the dark background, he added.
Because it is one-metre wide, it can easily target all the occupants in the 6-m skiffs pirates normally travels in, making it difficult for them to target their AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, said Hore.
The company can make the weapons on a large scale if it gets government backing and it won't take more than a year to develop them commercially, he said.
Statistics from the International Maritime Bureau indicate that the number of pirate attacks is on the increase. Last year alone the high seas witnessed around 430 pirate attacks, an increase of 5.6 percent from the previous year.


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