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 with nary 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 cost less than a dollar per shot (far less than conventional kinetic rounds) the LaWS are expected to become mainstays of America's destroyer and LCS fleets by the early 2020s. [Pop Sci - Military Aerospace]