The US Navy has recently been testing laser weapons; in the latest test, they shot down a drone in real-life conditions using an advanced Lockheed Martin laser weapon.
Although this technology is not yet mature enough to be deployed on the battlefield, it is growing by leaps and bounds and is now capable of knocking out all kinds of drones.
In any case, the US Navy has no plans yet to use lasers weapons on a massive scale, but they are increasingly being tested with astonishing results.
The laser weapon test
The test by the US Navy was designed to demonstrate the potential of laser weapons for future use.
It was a success, and the electric laser shot down a drone after tracking and identifying the threat level of its target within seconds.
This will prepare the US Navy to perform further tests and equip warships for upcoming drone attacks.
However, there’s still much to be done because laser weapons are ever-evolving, and it is difficult to imagine what their maximum potential will be in the future.
Today, they have many limitations. For example, the laser’s beam can be stopped by a smokescreen or smoke grenades, blocking the laser’s destructive effect.
Additionally, their power consumption is quite high, and they can only be used in vehicles and ships with enough power storage.
But laser weapons’ capabilities are advancing fast
After decades of extensive research and development, directed energy weapons are in the experimental stage, but they are highly effective.
This weapon could fry enemy missiles, mortar shells, and drones in mid-air, causing irreparable damage by melting metal surfaces and destroying onboard electronics.
The thing is that China has also been testing this new technology and, according to the Chinese media, with flying colors. For this reason, the U.S. wants to move quickly with this project and prevent China from having any advantage in the use of laser weapons.
Of course, it could be just Chinese government propaganda, but the US Navy doesn’t want to take any risks anyway, and it is betting heavily on the use of lasers.
Lockheed Martin layered laser defense (LLD) weapon
Engineered and manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the LLD system is planned to be used on various platforms. By deploying a high-resolution telescope, it tracks and approaches drones smoothly, and it seems a very capable technology with a bright future if it keeps evolving.
Lockheed Martin anticipates that future laser technologies will be employed in the air, on land, or at sea as the high-energy weapon system only requires electricity to work.
More animations of Lockheed Martin’s Tactical Airborne Laser Weapon System, shown mounted on an F-16 and engaging large surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. The pod must be a complete package that handles everything from stabilization to heat load.https://t.co/o7xw9dI2Nu pic.twitter.com/RWfBs0HcjK— ToughSF (@ToughSf) October 12, 2020
The fact that it has unlimited ammunition makes it tempting to use and much easier to manage logistically than conventional powder-based ammunition, which is undoubtedly heavier and riskier.
Although they are employed to counterattack small drones, it is expected to destroy larger targets since they could even be the solution to stop hypersonic and intercontinental ballistic missiles when this technology advances even further.
This technology is still in its infancy but has an enormous potential
Laser weapons will probably be one of the most important tools in the US Navy’s arsenal as drones are becoming more and more popular in military use – and being able to neutralize them in time will prevent damage and save soldiers’ lives.
For this reason, this weapon has enormous potential, and the US Navy is investing heavily in its development so that it can be adopted by all branches of the armed forces soon.
Feature image credit: Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet