THE UNITED STATES NAVY has announced plans to deploy a solid state laser on one of its ships next year.
The laser is just one part of energy saving measures in the Navy, and in a statement it said that it will also aid in other areas, like um, dealing with threats.
"Our directed energy initiatives, and specifically the solid-state laser, are among our highest priority science and technology programs. The solid-state laser program is central to our commitment to quickly deliver advanced capabilities to forward-deployed forces," said chief of Naval research rear admiral Matthew Klunder.
"This capability provides a tremendously affordable answer to the costly problem of defending against asymmetric threats, and that kind of innovative approach is crucial in a fiscally constrained environment."
A video posted to Youtube by the Navy shows the laser at work. It is on a ship and is fired at a plane. The plane catches fire and falls into the sea.
The laser will be deployed on the USS Ponce next year, two years ahead of schedule. Klunder reckons that firing energy rather than, say, missiles will save the Navy thousands of dollars.
"Our conservative data tells us a shot of directed energy costs under $1," he said. "Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability."
The laser is cheap, precise, and can be fired as long as there is electricity to power it. "The future is here," said Peter A. Morrision, programme officer for the Office of Naval Research Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation Programme.
"The solid-state laser is a big step forward to revolutionizing modern warfare with directed energy, just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords." µ