We’ve been waiting for this Star Wars-esque laser weapons system since 2014. FINALLY! We have a real-life laser blowing shit up. The Laser Weapons System (LaWS) has finally passed the experimental stage and has been equipped on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship making it the world’s very first active laser weapon.
“It is more precise than a bullet,” Capt. Christopher Wells told CNN. The precision of the laser means less collateral damage. “It’s not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military where it’s only good against air contacts, or it’s only good against surface targets, or it’s only good against, you know, ground-based targets — in this case this is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets.” Talk about laser light show.
Video shows the live-fire test of the laser eviscerate a drone aircraft and boats. The intense heat measuring thousands of degrees from the laser lights up the drone’s wing like the 4th of July sky and disables it in an instant. The weapon is silent and invisible. “It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does,” said Hughes.
You won’t see the lasers like you do coming from Han Solo’s blaster because the LaWS fires at the speed of light. It’s faster than any other weapon, even 50,000 times the speed of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object,” said Lt. Cale Hughes, laser weapons system officer. “We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.”
The LaWS is not only lightning fast, but it is inexpensive compared to a Tomahawk cruise missile that costs about $1 million. While the laser system has an initial price tag of $40 million, after that it only needs electricity, which comes from its own generator. The laser system requires no ammunition and has a crew of three. “It’s about a dollar a shot,” said Hughes.
The drawback to the LaWS is that it might not be powerful enough to shoot down missiles, but don’t worry your pretty little head because the military is currently developing a stronger second-generation laser that could do so.
Last month, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Special Operations Command successfully tested an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter that was armed with a frickin’ laser canons. This flying hell machine was equipped with Multi-Spectral Targeting System combined with electro-optical and infrared sensors plus a laser cannon made by military technology giant Raytheon. It destroyed various targets making it the first time ever that a laser weapons system successfully eliminated a target from a rotary-wing aircraft. We are step closer to the Death Star.