Weaponized lasers move from sci-fi to reality

The military just took one huge step toward making a laser weapon a functional reality. Northrop Grumman just announced a successful test of a 100-kilowatt laser, considered battlefield strength.

This solid-state laser is not as powerful as a chemical laser, but it can be powered by a jet or tank engine, and is much smaller. Unlike the lasers we're used to, this one will have a beam that's invisible. Bummer.

Unfortunately, it's still a few years and $100 million away from being used in the field. The problem is reducing the size, weight and cost of the laser guns. Dr. Brian Strickland, manager of the Army's Joint High Power Solid State Laser program said, "The next step would be to take the laser from the laboratory to the field and begin shooting down missiles with it." He also said that they want to get the cost down. "We want to have a laser that costs $15 to $20 million." Don't we all?

Hit the jump to see a video from KTLA with mock-ups of the laser in action.

LATimes and Wired