It’s not exactly the “Star Wars” weapon system that President Ronald Reagan proposed in 1983 — to much ridicule from his political adversaries — but it is built around a laser and it does reportedly deliver “near-instantaneous lethality.”
CNN reports that the U.S. Navy says its new laser weapon system — dubbed LaWS — has performed flawlessly during tests in the Arabian Gulf from September to November. And based on those outstanding test results, the commander of the ship that carries LaWS is authorized to use it if necessary.
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According to a statement from the Office of Naval Research, the laser could be used to stop threats ranging from drones and helicopters to small attack boats.
“Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations,” said Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research.
“We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality.”
An article on time.com says the Navy spent about $40 million developing LaWS, but boasts that it is extremely economical to operate.
Such weapons are safer than traditional shells and missiles, which are crammed with explosives and propellant.
They’re considerably cheaper, too: the energy required to fire the Ponce’s laser costs 59 cents a shot, compared to a shell or missile, which can cost $1 million or more.
By clicking on the video above, you can watch a short film from the Navy showing its new laser weapon system in action.
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