Say, The Navy Actually Has Laser Cannons That Work (Video)

Courtesy of The Danger Room:

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You know, I’ve been waiting for Star Wars/Star Trek type weapons since they promised me a flying car by the year 2000 when I was in grade school. We’re on our way, but not quite there yet. As The Danger Room article states:

The Navy won’t say just how many kilowatts of energy the LaWS’ beam is, but it’s probably under the 100 kilowatts generally considered militarily mature. The fact that LaWS can kill a surveillance drone and a fast-attack boat has more to do with the vulnerabilities of those systems than it its own prowess. It cannot stop an anti-ship missile, and its beam, about the circumference of a dime, will do little more than singe a fighter jet. And there remain significant challenges with cooling a shipboard high-energy laser, a necessary safety feature.

The LaWS presently generates its own power. “As we move into future fielding, the opportunity is there to go into the ship’s power grid,” Eccles says — a key step to eventually scale up to a megawatt’s worth of power, which can burn through 20 feet of steel in a second. Generating that level of power, still an engineering challenge, will allow the Navy to neutralize anti-ship missiles and fighter jets. Klunder said he believes that while getting up to a megawatt is “certainly part of a longer-term future, there’s a power level significantly less than that that will give us greater effects” against similar challenges.

That would be quite a sight to see, but I still think it’s pretty cool that they are able to get even this initial technology workable. The real test, however, will come next year when it is mounted on the USS Ponce when it makes it’s voyage to Middle East. Coincidence that the laser’s ability to “kill” surveillance drones and swarming fast boats matches with Iran’s development of surveillance drones and swarming fast boats? (I’m also waiting for the civilian application to take care of those domestic drones the authorities want buzzing the skies 😉 )