They're a standard feature of many a sci-fi film and now the US Navy has unveiled its first laser weapon in a video which shows the futuristic gun in action. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) released the video of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) being deployed aboard the USS Ponce between September and November in the Persian Gulf.
The gun, which doesn't look as sci-fi as you might've hoped although it does look cool, is used to blow up targets which include a speedboat and a ScanEagle drone, which it knocks out of the sky very succinctly.
"Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations,” said Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research. "We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality."
From the Office of Naval Research:
Sailors worked daily with LaWS over several months since it was installed, and reported the weapon performed flawlessly, including in adverse weather conditions of high winds, heat and humidity. They noted the system exceeded expectations for both reliability and maintainability.
The system is operated by a video-game like controller, and can address multiple threats using a range of escalating options, from non-lethal measures such as optical “dazzling” and disabling, to lethal destruction if necessary. It could prove to be a pivotal asset against what are termed “asymmetric threats,” which include small attack boats and UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles].
But the real question is, how soon before it can take out entire planets?