Despite promise, energy-beam weapons still missing from action


ARLINGTON, Virginia (AP) - For years, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and virtually inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. "Directed-energy'' pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on "Star Trek'' could be set to kill or merely stun. 

Such weapons are now nearing fruition. But logistical issues have delayed their battlefield debut - even as soldiers in Iraq encounter tense urban situations in which the nonlethal capabilities of directed energy could be put to the test. 

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