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    Arming Drones With Lasers to Increase Danger of Human Rights Abuses

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    Experts claim that proposals to attach a high-energy laser on the Avenger, or Predator-C, drone will give the US armed forces and its contractors a cost-effective weapon to carry out widespread assassinations and intimidate domestic critics.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Proposals to attach a high-energy laser on the Avenger, or Predator-C, drone will give the US armed forces and its contractors a cost-effective weapon to carry out widespread assassinations and intimidate domestic critics, experts told Sputnik.

    "Arming drones with lasers is likely to increase the use of drones for harassment of individuals and populations in attacks that cause burning and terror but fall short of killing," KnowDrones.com Coordinator Nick Mottern told Sputnik on Thursday. "Woundings are likely to increase, and assassinations may well increase."

    Mottern warned that laser drones would offer military forces and their private contractors a cheaper and more convenient means of conducting assassinations on a broad scale.

    "Laser attacks may be less expensive in dollar terms than missile attacks, which also may bring an increase in injury and killing," he said. "Casualties of all kinds are likely to increase. The advantage is only to weapons makers."

    HEL - Rheinmetall’s high-energy laser effectors on wheels (Rheinmetall)
    © Photo : Youtube/ Rheinmetall Defence
    Upstate Drone Action activist Ed Kinane told Sputnik that arming drones with lasers would make an already reprehensible weapon even more contemptible.

    "Weaponized drones are vile; arming them with lasers is even viler," he told Sputnik. "Corporations, like General Atomics, trying to develop such high-tech killing devices, should have their charters revoked; their executive officers and chief engineers should be prosecuted for being the intellectual authors of assassination and terrorism."

    Kinane argued that US Department of Defense officials working with mercenary contractors were likewise criminals and should be indicted.

    "Like nuclear weapons, weaponized drones are instruments of terror, but also of diplomatic blackmail," the activist warned, "Leaders of nations, when negotiating with the US, can’t help but know that they are doing so with a gun at their heads."

    Kinane warned that drones armed with lasers were weapons designed not for defense, but for global hegemony and that they would eventually be used to threaten and coerce American citizens too.

    "Soon the people of the US will come under threat …from such high-tech weapon development," he predicted. "These weapons may primarily be used to defend, not the nation, but the status quo power structure of the nation."

    Kinanealso predicted that the new weapons would be used to intimidate and threaten domestic critics of US policies.

    "They will surely be used domestically to intimidate and quell dissent, making a shambles of the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and petitioning the government for the redress of grievances," he stated.

    General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) the San Diego-based company that makes the Predator and Reaper drones, is undertaking a privately funded study to integrate a 150-kilowatt solid-state laser onto its Avenger (née Predator-C) drone.

    If the company succeeds, a drone with a high-energy laser will be a reality at some point in 2017, company executives told DefenseOne.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    laser, human rights, drones, United States
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