It's taken long enough, but we now have an operational battlefield laser. Or, we very nearly do. Over the last month or so, the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (or HEL MD) has managed to zap 90 mortar rounds plus a handful of UAVs during tests, which is a respectable enough amount of potentially dangerous things that it's starting to look like large, long-range lasers might have a deployable future.
This particular testing series was classified as "high-energy," using a 10 kilowatt class laser, but 10 kilowatts isn't generally considered to be weaponizable. The threshold has always been something like 100 kilowatts, and the U.S. Army already has an upgrade path in mind: the next demonstrations will take place with a 50 kilowatt system, to be eventually upgraded to the 100 kilowatts that's required to instantly vaporize Alderaan (or anything else)./p>
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