Naval laser torches small boat in test

It may not be cutting through a mile of solid steel every few seconds, but the Navy has demonstrated the ability of its solid state laser to disable small boats in a live test.

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Northrop Grumman's Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) is a 15 kilowatt solid state laser specifically designed to be mounted on ships. On Wednesday, the MLD underwent its first test, successfully disabling a small boat by setting fire to its motors. The range on this test was about a mile, and the laser was able to stay locked on its target despite the relative motion of its ship and the target boat in what I'd personally call heavy seas:

This is really just a first little taste of the capabilities of naval laser systems, and in a few years, the MLD is intended to be shooting down incoming missiles. A few years after that, we'll have an incredibly destructive free-electron laser ready to go. And it can't be too soon, according to the Navy:

"This is an important data point," said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, director of the Office of Naval Research, "but I still want the Megawatt death ray."

Yep, don't we all.

Northrop Grumman and ONR, via Danger Room

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