Boating With Lasers

It’s nothing earth shattering and certainly not anything a three inch shell couldn’t accomplish, but you need to start somewhere.

Naval laser torches small boat in test

Northrop Grumman’s Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) is a 15 kilowatt solid state laser specifically designed to be mounted on ships. On Wednesday, the MLD underwent its first test, successfully disabling a small boat by setting fire to its motors. The range on this test was about a mile, and the laser was able to stay locked on its target despite the relative motion of its ship and the target boat in what I’d personally call heavy seas.

This is really just a first little taste of the capabilities of naval laser systems, and in a few years, the MLD is intended to be shooting down incoming missiles. A few years after that, we’ll have an incredibly destructive free-electron laser ready to go. And it can’t be too soon, according to the Navy.

See also:
Navy tests laser gun by zapping motorboat off California coast
US Navy laser cannon used to set boat aflame
Video: In Roiling Seas, Navy Laser Sets a Ship On Fire
U.S. Navy tests laser gun by blasting empty boat
Navy tests on-board laser weapon
Video: Navy Laser Sets Ship on Fire
US Navy fires laser gun from ship for the first time
Naval laser could prove deadly to pirates, incoming missiles
U.S. Navy getting closer to arming ships with lasers
Maritime Laser Demonstration

There’s a big difference between setting a slow moving small boat on fire and defeating incoming missiles at supersonic speed. And then another problem is scaling the laser up to make it more powerful. It’s not like they can plug it into the local power grid at sea, they have to have a self-contained power source.

/the Navy obviously still has a lot of work to do, let’s hope they can figure it out soon

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