After months at sea patrolling the Persian Gulf region, the USS Ponce and its shiny new laser cannon have successfully confronted and destroyed not only an unmanned aerial vehicle but also an incoming speed boat and other moving targets — all without breaking a sweat.
"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," Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, said in a press statement. "Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations." And, according to reports, the LaWS performed its duties without a hiccup, regardless of the prevailing conditions.
Up next, the LaWS will undergo a series of technical upgrades to boost its power output from the current 30 to 50 kW and then again to 100 kW And given that these weapons are incredibly efficient (operating costs come in at around $1 (62p) per shot, which is far less than conventional kinetic rounds) the LaWS are expected to become one of the mainstays of the US army's fleet by the early 2020s – we had better stay on the right side of them then! [Pop Sci - Military Aerospace]