U.S. successfully tests a laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight

USS Portland conducts a Solid State Laser- Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator test in the Pacific May 16

The first glimpse of the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) was a brief video clip shared by the Navy on Friday, in which the solid-state laser takes down an unmanned aircraft in its first-ever test at sea.

The LWSD is one of a series of lasers, or directed energy, weapons being developed by the Navy.

A U.S. Navy ship destroyed a flying drone with a laser weapon in the Pacific Ocean and there is an actual video of the scene released on Twitter by the U.S. Navy.

Footage shows the laser emanating from the deck of the warship.

The US Army is developing its own laser weapon, the Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL), which is expected to range up 300 kilowatts and intercept rockets, artillery, and mortars.

The laser was developed by Northrup Grumman, an aerospace and defense company, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.

While the exact capabilities of the laser weapon system remain unknown, some reports indicate that this could be a 150-kilowatt system. The weapon onboard the Portland is officially known as a Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0.

"The Navy's development of DEWs like the LWSD provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options", the statement said.

The LWSD sits atop the USS Portland, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship that's now stationed near Hawaii's Pearl Harbor.

"With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy", a Navy official said in a press release.

"With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy", the Portland's Captain Sanders said.

Lieutenant Cale Hughes, a laser weapons system officer, told CNN in 2017 that the 30-kilowatt laser weapon on board the Ponce, which has since been retired from service, was like "throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object", allowing the Navy to "engage the targets at the speed of light".

Operating at 150 kilowatts, the LWSD is the Navy's strongest laser weapon and is around five times stronger than the LaWS, which has the ability to shoot down a small aircraft.



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