The Pentagon is to plough tens of millions into developing state-of-the-art laser weapons - to ensure it doesn't lag behind Russia and China.
Army top brass have agreed to massively up their investment in directed-energy military systems, according to the US Department of Defense’s top technology adviser.
Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said he even expects to have usable directed-energy weaponry in the hands of combat fighters in “a few years.”
The weapons could be similar to China's ZKZM-500 gun, which can "instantly carbonise" human skin and tissues, set a person on fire and make them feel "pain beyond endurance".
That rifle weighs three kilos - about the same as an AK-47 - has a range of almost 1,000 yards and can be mounted on vehicles.
However, Griffin acknowledged the develpment of a fully-operational missile defence system could still be years off.