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US Tests Weapon That 'Redefines' War

The US Navy releases a video of the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator at work
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2020 11:45 AM CDT

The US Navy says it has successfully tested a new laser weapon and has video to prove it, CNN reports. The Navy released a statement Friday with videos and images of the USS Portland, an amphibious transport dock ship, using "the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser" to knock out a drone in mid-air. The video shows a ship firing the laser on May 16 off Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, per USNI, then cuts to an apparent drone on fire. The Navy didn't reveal the weapon's power, but a 2018 report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies said a 150-kilowatt laser was coming.

The Navy says it's been building so-called DEWs, or directed-energy weapons—which turn chemical or electrical energy into radiated energy—since the 1960s with the goal of using lasers, per Newsweek. Earlier tests fired a 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System on the USS Ponce between 2014 and 2017, which an officer likened at the time to "throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object" so the Navy could "engage the targets at the speed of light." The Navy says the latest weapon, dubbed the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator, is "redefining war at sea for the Navy." (Read more Navy stories.)

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