U.S. Navy research has paid off with a shipboard solid-state laser powerful and accurate enough to set fire to a boat over a mile away in choppy waters.
How do you improve a massive steel titan that prowls the seas teeming with immense, powerful, and accurate cannon weaponry? Well, the Navy thought long and hard, and determined that you improve them the same way you improve anything else: just add lasers.
In a demonstration of a powerful ship-mounted solid-state laser, crews managed to deal “catastrophic damage” to a target vessel bobbing over a mile away. While plenty of tests have taken place on still, steady land, this is the first test that proves the laser can work in less then ideal conditions, as would most often be the case.
Due to energy and coolant restraints on current ships, the current generation of naval vessels will have to make due with 15 kilowatt lasers, like the one that was just successfully demonstrated, but future ships could have directed energy weapons up in the 100 kilowatt range, enough to burn missiles out of the sky.
The next steps will be to “develop the tactics, the techniques, the procedures, and the safety procedures that sailors are going need to develop” when using laser weapons, said Rear Admiral Nevin Carr.
But the Navy’s not done with its laser research; far from it. Work is being done on weaponizing free electron lasers (different from solid-state ones), which can blast through 2000 feet of steel per second with about a megawatt of power. You heard me right. 2000 feet. Of steel. Per second.
It was then that Admiral Carr said perhaps the greatest thing ever said by a living Admiral: “This is an important data point, but I still want the Megawatt death ray.”
So say we all, Admiral.