The U.S. Navy turned science fiction into reality over the summer by deploying its first laser beam weapon on the USS Ponce, a transport ship.
The solid-state Laser Weapons System blasts targets with an energy beam that’s concentrated enough to set drones and small enemy boats ablaze.
The weapon uses just 30 kilowatts per shot, which means it’s also cost effective. (An electric clothes dryer uses about 3 kilowatts per load.)
“You’re getting shots for less than a dollar, as opposed to ammunition, which can cost hundreds of dollars per round,” says Navy Cmdr. Vince Chernesky.