US Navy lasers being tested

By Gary Johnson - Apr 12, 2011

Lasers have been used as weapons in many sci-fi films for years, but now the US Navy is testing lasers of its own and has fired a laser gun from one of its ships.

An article over at the BBC is reporting that researchers have used the high-energy laser, to attack an unmanned boat off the coast of California. You can see a video of it in action as it disables the boats engines below, but there is no sound though.

There has previously been similar systems tested on land targets, but the moist sea air causes a bigger challenge as it weakens the laser beams power. The navy has said the technology could one day find its way onto cargo vessels to protect them from attack from small vessels.

Laser weapons have been tested by the US military for years, but early systems relied on chemical based lasers that produced toxic waste gases. Recently researchers have been experimenting with solid state lasers, which have large numbers of compact beam generators that are similar to LEDs.

Until recently much of the testing with HELs has been focused on destroying land based targets or missiles. The lasers are more likely to be restricted to military ships, but merchant shipping are also interested. For the time being the technology is still at the development stage and more testing is needed.

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