The U.S. Navy is getting ready to roll out its Laser Weapon System this year—a technology the military has touted as "revolutionizing" modern warfare.
A prototype of the weapon, which can target "asymmetrical threats" like drones and boat swarms, is set to be mounted on the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf later this year, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
"It fundamentally changes the way we fight," AP reports Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command, as saying.
The military has praised the laser's cost-saving ability, as it would cost a fraction of what it costs to fire a missile.
"We're taking the laser weapon system prototype to sea this year," Military.com reported Navy spokesman Chris Johnson as saying last month. "We are hoping to develop a system that we can produce and install aboard future warships."
Describing the weapon, AP reports: "Just like in the movies, the Navy's laser directs a beam of energy that can burn through a target or fry sensitive electronics. Unlike the movie, the laser beam is invisible to the human eye."
"The future is here," stated Peter A. Morrision, program officer for the Office of Naval Research's Sold-State Laser Technology Maturation Program, as the Navy began demonstrations of the new technology last spring. "The solid-state laser is a big step forward to revolutionizing modern warfare with directed energy, just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords."
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The Navy posted this video to YouTube showing the capabilities of its Laser Weapon System:
Another cost-saving technology the Navy expects to begin to roll within two years—rail guns.
A rail gun uses energy stored on the ship to launch a "hyper velocity projectile" capable of reaching targets 100 miles or more away.
The Navy has this video of the Office of Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun below: