The U.S. Navy has announced that it will deploy a laser weapon for the first time on one of its ships. The laser could be capable of shooting down drones and disabling vessels. Clearly excited at the prospect, Peter Morrison at the Office of Naval Research’s Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation Program, is reported as saying, “The future is here”.
Technically, the future is never here, of course, as what is here now is the present. Grammatical time-slips aside, this development means the potential transformation of warfare – not least the cost of conducting it. Since the laser runs on electricity, it can fire as long as there is power, at an estimated cost of less than $1 dollar per shot. With parallel advances in solar panel technology, a boat out at sea might conceivably never run out of laser-firing power.
E&T covered this laser weapons story in more detail last week. There’s also a link to a video at the end of that news story, which shows an airborne drone being shot down by a boat-based laser. Ka-chow!