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Navy ray gun shoots down robotic targets

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June 6, 2010

This US Navy Laser Weapon System shot down two UAVs on May 24th

This US Navy Laser Weapon System shot down two UAVs on May 24th

If you own an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), here’s piece of advice: don’t fly it near San Nicholas Island, California, or it could be blasted out of the sky – by a laser. Two such vehicles were successfully shot down there on May 24th by a US Navy laser weapon. According to the official press release, this marks "the first detect-thru-engage laser shoot-down of a threat representative target in an over-the-water, combat representative scenario.”

Members of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) utilized a laser shot through a beam director on a KINETO tracking mount, controlled by a MK 15 Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS). The Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS) has already shot down UAVs in other scenarios, bringing the total number of downed flying robots to seven.

"The success of this effort validates the military utility of DE&EWS (Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems) in a maritime environment," said program manager Capt. David Kiel. "Further development and integration of increasingly more powerful lasers into Surface Navy LaWS will increase both the engagement range and target sets that can be successfully engaged and destroyed."

The US Navy is interested in laser weapons because of their speed-of-light engagement time, and the cost savings realized by minimizing the use of missiles.

Laser weapons are also becoming a reality in the air. In testing earlier this year, a modified Boeing 747 equipped with an airborne laser (ABL) shot down a ballistic missile off the central California coast.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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10 Comments

What happens if it miss's ?

Matt Burton
7th June, 2010 @ 01:43 am PDT

Flying robots being blown up by giant lasers... It's so beautiful, I think I may cry!

Paulo Ribeiro
7th June, 2010 @ 03:49 am PDT

one word: Awesome.

Howe
7th June, 2010 @ 03:09 pm PDT

Thanks for the warning. Now I know to make my UAV prototypes mirror-coated. Of course, if they're stealthy enough and equipped with optical camoflage, I don't have to worry about them being targeted... plus this won't protect the navy from UUVs, so my plans for world domination are still on track....

alcalde
7th June, 2010 @ 08:16 pm PDT

World domination Alcalde?

Not sure if a mirror coating is going to go well with your stealth UAV's... big lasers tend to burn up mirrors, it's actually how some are "pumped". And reflecting things is how radar works ;)

But good luck, we could do with a good dictator, democracy doesn't work.

Craig Jennings
8th June, 2010 @ 03:26 am PDT

The laser uses mirrors for amplification so you can use the same thing on the surfave of a UAV and it will just reflect the laser. or some shiny polished metal might do also.

Chris7527
9th June, 2010 @ 04:05 pm PDT

Craig Jennings... you said "democracy doesn't work"? I and our forefathers agree with you! Thats why they set up the United States of America as a Republic!!! Now, if we can just keep all those stupid politicians from continually tweaking it!!!

Will, the tink
5th August, 2010 @ 10:11 pm PDT

I remember seeing this technology 15 years ago. The photo even looks like the one I saw back then.

aviatrix
7th December, 2010 @ 11:10 am PST

Sadly the airborne laser was cancelled, but these weapons are the future - zero intercept time, zero collatoral damage and pintpoint accuracy. Wonder what happens when they're used in the rain though?

PeetEngineer
9th September, 2011 @ 07:28 am PDT

To the people commenting about mirrors, it's not really that easy :)

The mirrors used in labs to reflect mirrors are very carefully designed to be able to reflect as much as possible of the single frequency the laser operates on. Polished metal as well as common household mirror would have too many imperfections, and not reflect enough that it would very soon vaporize.

And let's say you design it with a specific "supermirror" against a single frequency from a laser. What happens if they are actually decided to use another laser with another frequency?

In short and simple. Mirrors don't work against lasers that well :)

Roni Olavi Wilhelm Eskola
12th September, 2011 @ 04:50 am PDT
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