The Navy already has a real attack laser that can burn planes out of the sky, which is terrifying enough. Now they’ve announced they’re going to test one that is five times as powerful.
The Navy has a 30 kilowatt attack laser operationally mounted to one of their ships. Their new one will be a comic book-grade 150 kilowatt laser.
What is the difference between the new laser and the old one? Well, the current one is good at destroying slow-moving targets, but this new one will be able to deliver the same kind of destructive force in less time. That will give it the ability to take down faster-moving targets, as PopSci writer and sometimes Jalopnik contributor Kelsey Atherton reports.
In short, this is all part of the military’s work towards making lasers just another tool in their arsenal, good for taking out missiles and planes (that’s the Air Force’s expressed concern) as well as drones and swarms of fast-moving boats (that’s the Navy’s expressed concern).
The big draw for the use of lasers is their economy. It costs the Navy hundreds of thousands for each and every homing missile they fire at something. A single shot from a laser cannon should cost a single dollar, as we’ve reported in the past.
The Navy frames their work on these lasers as “turning science fiction into reality,” according to National Defense Magazine, which also directly quoted the Navy’s own description of their “game changing” work:
The Office of Naval Research “will perform a shipboard test of a 150-killowatt laser weapon system in the near future,” said Adm. Bill Moran during a speech at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Directed Energy Summit, which was held in Washington, D.C.
The Navy’s 30-kilowatt laser weapon is currently onboard the USS Ponce. The system, which has been used operationally in the Persian Gulf, offers military leaders precision accuracy at a low cost, Moran said.
The laser weapon system, or LaWs, “has an extremely low-cost per engagement ratio,” he said. “We’re spending pennies on the dollars … every time we use that capability.”
I would say now is a good time to run for the hills, but I don’t know if running from the hills is even a viable plan anymore.
The only calming part about this whole laser tech is that the last time the United States military tried to make killer lasers, they mounted them on planes and it was a complete failure, wasting time and money until it was cancelled at the start of the decade.