The Navy, with a fair amount of salesman-ship (pun intended), unveiled a new sea-based laser weapon Monday that it plans to deploy to the Persian Gulf, for possible use against Iranian speedboats and drones, in 2014.
Lasers have always been five years away – and always will be, Pentagon skeptics say. The promise of the premise has always been there, but turning amplified light into weapons has proven to be a long-standing challenge.
The Navy released a video Monday showing the prototype system destroying a drone in mid-flight, and suggesting it could do the same against Iranian targets when it is dispatched to the Gulf next year aboard the command vessel USS Ponce.
“This capability provides a tremendously affordable answer to the costly problem of defending against asymmetric threats,” Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, the chief of naval research, said. “That kind of innovative approach is crucial in a fiscally-constrained environment.”
A pulse of directed energy costs about $1 to generate. “Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile,” Klunder said in a Navy release, “and you can begin to see the merits of this capability.”
Who said sequestration was all bad?