31/10/2013 11:20 GMT

Drone Mounted Lasers Are Being Developed By DARPA For The US Military

Pilotless, almsot silent, missile-shooting drones are scary.

So what about ones equipped with lasers?

This appears to nearing reality after those sinister developers of all things terrifying, DARPA, awarded contracts to two companies to just that.

drone laser

An artist's impression of what will probably wipe out mankind

Project Endurance will see Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman given $14.6m (£9.1m) and $11.4m (£7.1m) respectively to develop laser weapons to protect drones from missiles.

The work is born out of DARPA's project Excalibur which aimed to make lasers "10 times lighter and more compact than existing high-power chemical laser systems".

They added: "The focus of the Endurance effort...will be on miniaturising component technologies, developing high-precision target tracking, identification, and lightweight agile beam control to support target engagement.

"The program will also focus on the phenomenology of laser-target interaction and associated threat vulnerabilities."

For now the intended use is one of defence but the US Navy has already demonstrated a laser which can shoot down aircraft and disabling other ships.

So the inevitable and slightly worrying question is how long before we have drones shooting deadly lasers at targets on the ground?