The U.S. Navy is closing the gap between real-life laser and fictional death beams, after successfully demonstrating a new energy weapon that can shoot down an enemy aircraft with a beam of light.
A US Navy ship downed a flying drone with a “solid state laser” in the Pacific Ocean, the service branch announced on Friday.
According to the Navy, the weapon system is being developed due to “an increasing number of threats” that include UAVs, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
The USS Portland (LPD-27), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, deployed its Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) against an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) last week during a demonstration, the first such use of a high-energy class solid-state laser, the Navy said.
The clip is quite brief, flashy and a little disappointing, because there is no audio to indicate whether the laser makes the classic ‘peewshh’ sound.
This new weapon has a remarkably boring name: LWSD, short for Solid State Laser — Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator.
“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” US Navy Capt. Karrey Sanders, the ship’s commanding officer, said in a press release.
Many things are unclear at this point how many lasers are deployed at sea for naval warfare, or how much damage they can do. However, the U.S. navy’s latest test indicates that it’s pushing hard to get ahead of the game, according to Capt. Sanders.
“The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems, ” Sanders added.
He further added that the test is “paving the way for future weapons systems,” and that the LWSD will be a new tool for tackling a wide range of threats.
“With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”