A US Navy warship recently conducted a successful test where a new high-energy laser weapon was used that can take out aircraft mid-flight. This was confirmed by the Navy’s Pacific Fleet as well. The images and videos released by the Navy show an amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland that is utilizing the ‘first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser’ for disabling an aerial drone aircraft.
The laser can be seen emanating in the images from the warship’s deck whereas the short video clips show a drone burning after being taken out by the laser. The US Navy didn’t mention anything about the specific location of the laser weapons system demonstrator (LWSD) test. The only information released claims that it took place on May 16 in the Pacific.
The weapon’s power has obviously also not been disclosed. However, as per a 2018 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies; it is expected to be a 150-kilowatt laser. Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland, said, ‘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. With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.’
The US Navy says that lasers, which it refers to as directed energy weapons (DEW), can prove to be effective against small armed boats or drones. The statement released by Capt. Karrey Sanders said, ‘The Navy’s development of DEWs like the LWSD provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options.’
Lt. Cale Hughes, a laser weapons system officer, has previously explained, ‘It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object. We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.’