Washington: A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight, the Navy's Pacific Fleet has announced. Images and videos provided by the Navy show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland executing "the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser" to disable an aerial drone aircraft, the Navy said in a statement on Friday.
It did not give a specific location of the laser weapons system demonstrator (LWSD) test, saying only that it occurred in the Pacific on May 16.
Navy ships face an increasing number of threats in conducting their missions, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
The US Navy has been developing directed-energy weapons (DEWs), to include lasers, since the 1960s.
DEWs are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that degrades, neutralises, defeats, or destroys an adversarial capability, the statement said.
The Navy's development of DEWs like the LWSD, provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options.
"By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats," Captain Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland, said in the statement.
"With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy."
The Navy says lasers, which it calls directed energy weapons (DEW), can be effective defences against drones or armed small boats.