It may have been easier to call it a deflector shield. The patent describes it as a system that detects shockwaves from nearby explosions and generates an area of ionized air—creating a plasma field between the blast and the vehicle.
The method works, says the patent, “by heating a selected region of the first fluid medium rapidly to create a second, transient medium that intercepts the shockwave and attenuates its energy density before it reaches a protected asset.”
Boeing patents Microwave Forcefield:
The idea uses a sensor that detects an explosion in water or air and then estimates the time and location of the explosion. The signal from the sensor would then trigger the laser (or a blast of electricity or microwave energy) that heats up a section of the air, creating the plasma shield. The plasma’s temperature and density is what helps to deflect and absorb the shockwaves from the explosion.
Boeing patents ‘Star Wars’-style force fields using microwaves:
“Explosive devices are being used increasingly in asymmetric warfare to cause damage and destruction to equipment and loss of life. The majority of the damage caused by explosive devices results from shrapnel and shock waves,” the patent says. Although this system would not stop the shrapnel, it would reduce the force of the blast shockwave.
This patent promises a lot, and who knows how far Boeing has developed it.
But I would say that this has real potential to save soldiers’ lives when it comes to IEDs.