Watch a US Navy battleship take down a drone with a laser
The ship disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser. And they filmed it and put it on Twitter and Facebook.
‘By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,’ US Navy Capt. Karrey Sanders, the ship’s commanding officer, said in a press release.
‘The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems, ‘ Sanders added.
‘With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.’ The Navy said this weapons system was being developed because of an increasing number of threats from UAVs as well as surveillance and reconnaissance systems from other countries.
Eventually, the US hopes to be able to knock out missiles in flight with lasers. A report from America’s military suggested they will be on battlefields by 2022 and will be attached to a platoon of four vehicles.
‘The time is now to get directed energy weapons to the battlefield,’ Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, said in the report. ‘The Army recognises the need for directed energy lasers as part of the Army’s modernisation plan. ‘This is no longer a research effort or a demonstration effort. It is a strategic combat capability, and we are on the right path to get it in soldiers’ hands.’
The high energy lasers installed on the US Army ‘Stryker’ vehicles would travel at the speed of light and would simply melt enemy drones and aircraft. Despite the destructive power, the energy cost will be high.
Each laser cannon will require 50 kilowatts of power, which is enough to power three homes. The plan to move to laser-based weapons has been in development for several years as small, nimble drones are difficult to hit with conventional weaponry.