Navy's laser weapon zaps drones out of sky for $1 per shot | Cult of Mac

Navy’s laser weapon zaps drones out of sky for $1 per shot

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USS Ponce has U.S. Central Command's blessing to defend itself with this laser weapon.  (U.S. Navy video)
The USS Ponce has Central Command's blessing to defend itself with this laser weapon. Photo: U.S. Navy video

Can you hit your targets when playing an Xbox shooting game? If so, the Navy might just want to put a video-game-like controller in your hands. Except this version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will have you aiming a ship-mounted laser at real enemies.

A Navy video shows a new laser weapon system successfully zapping a small target on a moving ship, shooting an unmanned aircraft out of the sky and picking off other targets at sea.

The Navy put the 30-kilowatt, directed-energy weapon to the test aboard the USS Ponce during the fall in the Persian Gulf. Because the weapon performed “flawlessly” during exercises, U.S. Central Command gave the Ponce’s commander the authority to defend the ship with the laser.

The video, which was released last week, shows operators in front of a panel of screens. One operator aims and fires using a hand control that looks similar to what gets gripped by the sweaty mitts of gamers every day, all over the world.

A laser weapons operator aims at a target with the use of hand controller. (U.S. Navy video)
A laser weapon operator aims at a target with a hand controller. Photo: U.S. Navy video

Can you handle fire from all directions? Laser operators in the Gulf fended off a simulated small boat “swarm attack” with the single weapon, Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder told the U.S. Naval Institute News.

Weaponized drones have been the symbol of high-tech modern warfare with lasers seemingly stuck in science fiction and video games. However, the military and contractors have been quietly developing laser systems.

Boeing announced earlier this year that it had successfully tested a high-energy laser gun mounted to a truck that shot down more than 150 drones.

Expensive, drawn-out wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have the Pentagon seriously looking at ways to cut costs.

Klunder said lasers cost “less than a dollar per shot,” compared to a single multimillion-dollar missle, because all that is needed is electricity. The laser on the Ponce gets its electricity from a diesel generator.

The Navy will test higher-power laser weapons and consider mounting them to other ships over the next couple of years.