The US Navy has successfully tested a new high powered laser weapon with the capability to take down an entire aircraft during mid-flight, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet revealed in a statement Friday.
The Navy released images and videos which show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland demonstrating “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser” to destroy an aerial drone aircraft, the statement said. In one eerie video clip, the laser is seen emanating from the deck of the warship, apparently taking down a drone. In another short video clip, the drone is seen burning. A 2018 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies said that the weapon was expected to be a 150-kilowatt laser.
“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,” Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland, said in the statement. “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”
The Navy did not provide a specific location of the laser weapons system demonstrator (LWSD) test, only revealing that it occurred in the Pacific on May 16th. However, they did disclose that the lasers, which it calls directed energy weapons (DEW), will be effective defenses against enemy drones or armed small boats.
“The Navy’s development of DEWs like the LWSD provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options,” the statement also said.