It may sound like sci-fi, but lasers are definitely the future of war. As are drones. So what could be better than to see them go up against each other in a blaze of explosive glory? Looks like in the rock-paper-scissors game of modern combat, laser beats drone.
This is the future of warfare. And it's so, so cool.
The US military has been toying with lasers for a while now. The Air Force is considering them as weapons on future fighters and bombers, and Lockheed Martin has been working to make them a source of fuel for drones. The Navy? They just like to shoot stuff with 'em.
The Navy has been testing its boringly named Laser Weapons System (LaWS) for a few years now, and this isn't the first time it's ever blown something out of the sky. It is the most spectacular look we've gotten yet, though. In this video released by the Navy today, we see the LaWS using its six-laser cannon focusing on fiery beam of destruction on its poor target. Not something you want to be on the wrong end of.
The real advanatge of a laser weapon system isn't style though; it's cost. Rather the lack thereof. While missles can cost thousands of dollars, a laser shot can be as cheap as $1, according to the Navy's own estimates. That's a drop in the drop in the bucket. Virtually free once you've built the thing.
Peter A. Morrision, program officer for ONR's Sold-State Laser Technology Maturation Program, is about as stoked for giant lasers as anyone out there:
"The future is here. The solid-state laser is a big step forward to revolutionizing modern warfare with directed energy, just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords."