Loyal Readers™, prepare to be dazzled—if unsurprised—by my astonishing prescience.
Early last week I was dining with My Amazing Lover™, and of course the topic of drones naturally came up. We were discussing the article by The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock that I had linked in one of my Recent Reads roundups; thanks to a whistleblower at FAA, we now know about the 700 near-collisions between planes and drones this year (so far).
“But don’t worry about it!” I scoffed. “Drone manufacturers will surely come up with a perfect solution to the very drone menace they created! Then our tax dollars will not only pay for drones themselves, we’ll also happily pay America’s Owners for the technology to neutralize them! WIN-WIN!”
We ordered another bottle of rosé. It was half-price bottle night! But let’s face it, we would have ordered another one anyway.
And then lo and behold, on Wednesday morning Boeing debuted its new compact drone-blasting laser cannon!
Isn’t it cute? It looks like the infant spawn of R2D2 and the girl robot from WALL-E!
The adorable little laser weapon is designed specifically for turning drones into flaming piles of wreckage. The device is controlled with a standard Xbox 360 controller, and no, I did not just make that up. (“If it breaks, just head to the barracks to get a replacement!”).
In the demo, Boeing used the laser to burn holes in a stationary, composite UAV shell, to show how quickly it can compromise an aircraft. Two seconds at full power and the target was aflame…the compact system is small enough to fit in four suitcase-sized boxes and can be set up by a pair of soldiers or technicians in just a few minutes.
What could possibly go wrong shooting high power laser beams at drones buzzing around commercial aircraft? FLAMING WRECKAGE FTW.
And what a business opportunity! The market is huuuuge, and I’m not just talking about every single airport in the U.S. (and beyond), or even the military. Last month, drones chased away firefighting helicopters from burning cars on a California highway, which means that every municipal fire department requires a laser cannon, too. There has been a rash of drones dropping all sorts of contraband—weed, weapons, heroin, porn—into prison yards in Ohio, Maryland, South Carolina and probably other places where they went undetected. Boeing blasters on top of every guard tower, anyone? Hundreds of stadiums need laser beam drone exploders, amid growing concerns about all those drones flying overhead. Better to have flaming drone wreckage falling on football fans and players than take a chance on nefarious jihadi plots involving unmanned aerial vehicles, amirite? It would certainly make watching the games much more interesting, that’s for sure. Oh and remember last year when I told you about that 400 pound military drone that crashed landed at a Pennsylvania elementary school? There are a hundred thousand or so public schools in the U.S., and all of them now require an advanced laser weapon. And a working Xbox controller.
And why stop there? The Second Amendment surely guarantees that anyone in the market for a drone blasting laser cannon should be able to get one from Boeing. I’ll certainly need a few of these babies myself, stationed atop the Palace turrets. I’ll be a goddamned one-woman well-regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state! Whoo-hoo!
Now I ask you: besides Your Humble Monarch™, WHO ELSE COULD HAVE POSSIBLY PREDICTED BOEING’S DRONE-KILLING LASER CANNON?*
Now that you are utterly in awe of my psychic prediction powers, here are some super fun facts about The Boeing Company:
- The Boeing Company famously manufactures commercial jets, but it is also the second-largest weapons manufacturer in the world: 45% of its profits come from “defense” products, including military aircraft, targeting and surveillance systems, satellites, various and sundry missiles and bombs and (last but not least!) drones. In fact, the company just received a patent for a drone that can essentially fly forever. Well, until it’s blasted out of the sky by a Boeing laser cannon. Hahaha.
Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird H-6U drone under laser attack by Boeing’s new Compact Laser Weapon System.
- Boeing paid no federal taxes from 2008 to 2010, instead receiving $178 million in tax rebates on profits of $9.7 billion. It spent $52.29 million on lobbying during the same period, when the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.
- In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama “was by far the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from Boeing employees and executives, hauling in $197,000 – five times as much as John McCain, and more than the top eight Republicans combined.”
- Boeing has been the beneficiary of even more taxpayer dollars under Obama than George W. Bush.
- Wikileaks released documents showing just how hard the U.S. State Department works as a taxpayer-funded sales force to sell Boeing’s jets to foreign governments.
- Since 1995, Boeing has paid over $1.3 trillion (<—not a typo) in penalties for 60 instances of misconduct, including $615 million in 2006 in relation to illegal hiring of government officials and improper use of proprietary information. Just since Obama took office, new charges have included breach of contract, fraud, kickbacks, labor law violations, overbilling, whistleblower retaliation and multiple incidents of water pollution.
- Since 2008, Boeing has laid off 14,862 workers. In 2010 it increased pay for its top five executives to $41.9 million—a 31% raise.
Have a nice day.
*Okay, anyone with even a minimal understanding of how U.S. capitalism and government work would have predicted precisely this development. But My Amazing Lover™ sure seemed quite impressed with me as I jumped around the Palace animatedly, shrieking “Didn’t I JUST SAY this would happen?! Huh? Weren’t we JUST TALKING about this?!” All right, so maybe “impressed” isn’t exactly accurate. But it’s what I’m going with, people.
Two things pinged my radar after posting yesterday:
Just a little reminder, from the Palace Library archives:
- US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft. Ackerman, S., The Guardian (Jul. 2013):
A study conducted by a US military adviser has found that drone strikes in Afghanistan during a year of the protracted conflict caused 10 times more civilian casualties than strikes by manned fighter aircraft.
It turns out you don’t need a Boeing laser cannon to take down a drone after all: chimpanzees with sticks can get the job done quite nicely.
Plus, you have to admit it would be so awesome having a bunch of chimps hanging around all our airports, prisons, schools and stadiums.
Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird H-6U drone under attack by chimpanzees with sticks
Anybody know whether the chimps have a lobbyist yet? Asking for a friend…