U.S. Navy successfully tests powerful laser designed to destroy aircraft

by Peter Heck · May 25th, 2020 9:08 am

In a move the commanding officer of the USS Portland says is part of "redefining war at sea," the U.S. Navy has conducted a successful test of a high-energy laser weapon designed to destroy drones and other aircraft mid-flight.

A video of the test, which occurred on May 16 aboard the Portland somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, shows an intense laser radiating from the deck of the warship and neutralizing a distant, unmanned aerial vehicle.

Though the Navy has been developing direct-energy weapons for more than 50 years, this was the first "system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser," according to US Pacific Fleet Public Affairs.

"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," said Captain Karrey Sanders, the commanding officer of USS Portland.

Directed-energy weapons are designed to convert chemical energy into a radiated energy and focus it onto a specific target. Sanders says tests like this one are part of "paving the way for future weapons systems."


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