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US Navy Shoots Down Drone Using Laser Beam In Historic First

US Navy Shoots Down Drone Using Laser Beam In Historic First

The sophisticated heat beam successfully took down a drone, edging the military closer to sci-fi weapons

For the first time in its history, the US Navy has shot down a drone with a sophisticated heat beam, which they called a 'laser'.

Military forces using lasers as part of their weaponry makes the mind leap to memories of The Terminator, Halo and other sci-fi; blinding strokes of light filling the skies, aimed at futuristic machines the likes of which we've not seen - yet.

In a world that's edging closer and closer to all-electric, it's not surprising that we're also nearing technologies once in the realm of our imaginations - in this case, we're talking about Starship Troopers-style lasers.

The laser is lower risk than other weaponry.
Lockheed Martin

Earlier this year, the US Navy took down a drone with an all-electric laser, courtesy of its Layered Laser Defence (LLD). In the exercise, the drone was mean to represent a subsonic cruise missile, as per Tech Spot.

The laser was designed and built by Lockheed Martin with the intention of being used against unmanned aerial systems, fast attack boats and other in-bound air threats.

In addition to shooting down the drone, the laser was tested against other aerial vehicles and quadcopters.

An artist's impression of Lockheed Martin's laser system.
Lockheed Martin

Dr. Frank Peterkin, the Office of Naval Research's directed energy portfolio manager, said in a press release: "The Navy performed similar tests during the 1980s but with chemical-based laser technologies that presented significant logistics barriers for fielding in an operational environment.

"And, ultimately, those types of lasers did not transition to the fleet or any other service."

Laser weapons have a number of advantages, including their ability to disabling sensors and posing a lower threat than other weapons due to being all-electric.

The drone's parachute was deployed after it was hit by the laser.
Lockheed Martin

Rear Admiral Lorin C. Selby said: "Innovative laser systems like the LLD have the potential to redefine the future of naval combat operations.

"They present transformational capabilities to the fleet, address diverse threats, and provide precision engagements with a deep magazine to complement existing defensive systems and enhance sustained lethality in high-intensity conflict."

David Kiel, a former Navy captain who is a program officer in ONR’s Aviation, Force Projection and Integrated Defence Department, which managed the testing, also said: "LLD is an example of what a very advanced laser system can do to defeat significant threats to naval forces.

"And we have ongoing efforts, both at ONR and in other Navy programs, to keep building on these results in the near future."

There are currently no plans introduce the LLD to currently military outfits.

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Featured Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

Topics: US News, Technology