Laser Gun Successfully Fired From U.S. Navy Ship

Apr 11, 2011, 12:24 by John Steele

The U.S. Navy has completed a successful weapon's test off the coast of California, where an on-board laser gun set fire to a test ship and disabled its engines, the BBC reported.

While similar weapons have recently been tested on land, the moist sea air had disabled sea-based tests, weakening the beam. But this successful test proves that the high-energy lasers (called HEL's) could be used to prevent small-boat attacks.

While the U.S. Military has been experimenting with laser technology since the early 1970's, past weapons have been used for shooting down land-based targets and in missile defense. These newer systems use fewer chemicals and more reflected light, similar to an LED system.

In a video released by the U.S. Navy, an invisible beam causes a small test vessel to burst into flames. The flames, reports said, destroyed the vessel's engines and rendered the boat useless.

The Navy issued a statement showing the branch's interest in using further laser weapons in the future.

"This test provides an important data point as we move toward putting directed energy on warships," Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr said in a statement. "There is still much work to do to make sure it's done safely and efficiently."