The Navy Wants to Kill Drones With This Ginormous Laser Gun

Illustration for article titled The Navy Wants to Kill Drones With This Ginormous Laser Gun

The Navy has successfully tested its shiniest new toy: the Laser Weapons System (LaWS), which recently "tracked, engaged, and destroyed" a drone in mid-flight. It's not our first laser gun, but it's certainly our best.

The system is similar to the Navy's Phalanx close-in weapons system, which mounts a radar-guided 20mm Gatling gun on a swivelling base. Except with, you know, a giant friggin laser instead of bullets. There's no word yet on when we'll actually deploy these, but hopefully it'll be before enemy UAVs start perching. [Wired]

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If this works as advertised, it's not going too far to call this a game-changer.

The problem with the Phalanx is that state-of-the-art Russian-built anti-ship missiles are supersonic, and as you'd probably imagine, it's awfully hard to hit a supersonic target with another projectile. The idea behind the Phalanx was to throw up a "wall of lead" in hopes at least one round would hit the target.

But a laser doesn't have that problem, since the beam moves at the speed of light. Theoretically, it should be detect-shoot-kill. Of course, it's rarely that easy, but it ought to be a hell of a lot more effective in defending against anti-ship missiles than the Phalanx is.