The US military has been working on directed energy weapons, which is a fancy way to say laser, for a long time. A successful test of a laser about a year ago showed that a weapon aboard a ship could be used to down a drone aircraft. The Navy has announced that its laser weapon will be deployed on a ship later this summer.
The prototype laser weapon will be installed on the USS Ponce for at sea testing in the Persian Gulf. Military leaders are touting the laser weapon for its ability to engage targets at the speed of light and for having an unlimited magazine.
Previous tests have shown that the laser weapon can be used against targets on the water as well. The targets in recent tests have been tracked with a Phalanx Close-in Weapon that can hand tracking data over to the laser. Sailors control the laser with a video game like controller and have the ability to stop a threat or destroy it.
"This is a revolutionary capability," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. "It's absolutely critical that we get this out to sea with our sailors for these trials, because this very affordable technology is going to change the way we fight and save lives."