The United States Navy will begin mounting Laser Weapons System (LaWS) aboard its ships beginning next year. The video above shows a prototype of the weapon firing at a surveillance drone over the open ocean and explains the different functions of the laser, such as its ability to scramble radar.
“Our directed energy initiatives, and specifically the solid-state laser, are among our highest priority science and technology programs,” Chief of Naval Research Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder said in a press release provided by the U.S. Navy. “The solid-state laser program is central to our commitment to quickly deliver advanced capabilities to forward-deployed forces. This capability provides a tremendously affordable answer to the costly problem of defending against asymmetric threats, and that kind of innovative approach is crucial in a fiscally constrained environment.”
The U.S.S. Ponce, a combatant ship, will be the first of its kind armed with the new prototype. The laser system will cost $32 million for each unit made, but firing will cost less than $1, a figure that’s much cheaper than what it costs to fire a missile.