The American Navy has introduced a laser weapon system that's cheap, reliable, and can be set to stun or kill.
Ladies and gentlemen. For over a century, scientists, military tacticians, and sci-fan fans alike asked a single question: When will wars be fought with laser guns? Now we seem to be approaching that reality, especially if information from the American Navy is anything to go on. Over the course of operational demonstrations in the Arabian Gulf, the USS Ponce used a prototype laser weapon system to destroy moving test targets, and literally shoot a flying drone out of the sky. But perhaps the strangest part? The entire system is controlled from a video game styled controller.
"Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations," said chief of naval research, Rear Admiral Matthew L. Klunder. "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."
Don't take that lethality comment completely to heart; these lasers can do a lot more than kill. The laser weapon system, called LaWS, has a range of escalation options. While it can be set to destroy, it's also programmed with non-lethal measures like dazzling or disabling targets.
You read that right. Laser guns are real, and they can be set to stun or kill.
But perhaps you're asking why, outside of non-lethal options, we'd want LaWS over traditional armaments? First of all, you have no soul. Second of all, lasers are amazingly cost effective. Your average kinetic missile usually costs millions of dollars to produce, and contains fuel and gunpowder that could harm the crew in an accident. The laser system is safer, since it runs entirely on electricity, and is cheaper to install and fire. For example, it only costs a single dollar to fire a shot from this weapon, which is far cheaper than most bullets.
"At less than a dollar per shot, there's no question about the value LaWS provides," Klunder continued. "With affordability a serious concern for our defense budgets, this will more effectively manage resources to ensure our Sailors and Marines are never in a fair fight."
What's more, LaWS operated seamlessly with preexisting ship defense systems, and worked perfectly in a variety of adverse weather conditions. That's all incredibly impressive for a technology that hasn't even been deployed in combat yet. Either way, you should certainly expect to see more of this technology in the future.
Source: America's Navy