The United States Navy has developed the world’s first laser weapon to enter service, and it’s got a special mission – to disable hostile drones.
According to CNN, the Laser Weapons System – or LaWS for short – has been deployed aboard the USS Ponce, and is more precise than a bullet.
Its primary objective is to disable drones, but it’s also capable of taking out other small targets.
“It's not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military where it's only good against air contacts, or it's only good against surface targets, or it's only good against, you know, ground-based targets,” says the ship’s commander, Captain Chistopher Wells, speaking to CNN. “In this case this is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets."
The laser works by beaming huge amounts of photons at a target, heating it to ultra-high temperatures, effectively burning it to a crisp.
Literally being a beam of light comes with several unique advantages. Firstly, it downs targets at the speed of light – literally. Effectively, it’s a point-and-shoot, instant-kill weapon.
Furthermore, it’s practically silent and invisible. “It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don't see the beam, it doesn't make any sound, it's completely silent and it's incredibly effective at what it does,” adds Lt. Cale Hughes, also speaking to CNN.
It’s also incredibly cheap to operate – a dollar a shot, as Hughes says – and contrasts with the immense cost of firing a multi-million-dollar missile.
Yep. The future of warfare is already here.