The U.S. Navy gave CNN a peak at a “super laser” that it has been testing on the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf.
The naval officers can use the weapon to shoot down drones, according to CNN.
Laser weapon systems (LaWS) are still in testing stages, but are predicted to be combat-ready by the year 2020. The system costs $30 million and contains 30kW of power. LaWS are described as being “more precise than a bullet.”
Captain Chris Wells of the USS Ponce says, “This is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets.”
In describing the operative portions of the weapon Lt. Cale Hughes, a LaWS officer, told CNN, “It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does.”
The Navy is using aerial drones as practice targets to ascertain the effectiveness of the weapon system’s ability to zoom in and precisely target the drone before firing. Upon target identification the laser heats the target to roughly 1,000 degrees F.
The laser itself is 50,000 times faster than an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, making this the fastest and most precise weapon system to date. The system could be used to fire on drones, aircraft, and small boats. This allows the LaWS to have potential to be used as a defensive and offensive tool for the Navy in the future.
Defense contractors have announced that they will work in concert with the Pentagon to test other platforms for laser-based weapon systems. They are looking into potential uses on combat vehicles and aircraft.