Navy laser
Image Credit: Fox News

How about laser weapons mounted on Navy vessels?  The Navy announced that is is prepared to deploy Laser Weapons to the US Fleet.  These infrared blow torches are 12 for 12 in taking down targets so next year the Pentagon plans to mount one on the back of ship and give it some real-world operational experience.

Navy officials announced Monday that in early 2014, a solid-state laser prototype will be mounted to the fantail of the USS Ponce and sent to the 5th fleet region in the Middle East for real-world experience.

One of its major advantages, the Navy said, is its relatively low cost to operate. “Its weapon round costs about $1 to shoot,” said Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, chief of Naval Research. Although the unit cost is higher — at around $32 million to produce.

So far targets have been limited to small boats and unmanned vehicles.  There are some concerns about how effective it could be under less than optimal weather conditions, but then that is partly the point of field testing it in real-world conditions.  They are not commenting on the weapons range or whether they believe it capable of taking out faster moving targets,  but….

The Navy is working on just such a gun of course.

Called the FEL — for free-electron laser, which doesn’t use a gain medium and is therefore more versatile — it was tested in February 2011, consuming blistering amounts of energy and burning through feet of raw steel.

The FEL will easily get into the kilowatt power range, experts say. It can also be easily tuned as well, to adjust to environmental conditions, another reason it is more flexible than the fixed wavelength of solid-state laser.

A Navy armed with laser weapons is in our immediate future.