The U.S. Navy and Raytheon Missile Systems have teamed up to bring laser beam weapons from science fiction to reality. The goal is to create a laser that can successfully shoot down enemy planes. The first test conducted by the duo shot down three unmanned drones traveling at 300 mph from more than two miles away – quite a feat for a defense weapon.
Raytheon developed the system by combining six commercial lasers into one powerful beam. And to make sure that the laser hit its target, Raytheon mounted the laser on the Navy warship’s Phalanx, the defense system that fires radar-guided missiles.
Guided by radar, the Phalanx fires an invisible beam that is only seen when it strikes its target. Once locked on the target, the laser causes the UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, to catch on fire and blow up.
“This is more real than Star Wars… Our lasers destroyed the UAVs lighting them on fire,” said Mike Booen, vice president of Directed Energy Weapons at Raytheon.
With drones already being used to spy on and attack navy fleets and soldiers, these lasers could be the next level of unmanned weapons defense.