The very term ‘laser cannon’ might bring up reveries of futuristic space battles with multifariously ‘vivacious’ ammunition. But the fact is – the US Navy has already debuted its advanced laser cannon technology aboard the amphibious transport ship of USS Ponce. Christened simply as the Laser Weapon System (LaWS), this $40 million prototype mechanism is touted to have the boisterous capacity to punch holes through enemy UAVs, by virtue of its robust 30kW photon beam.
This ‘collective’ photon beam is generated by bringing together the apertures of six solid-state welding lasers, and focusing them onto a single point. In essence, this dazzling ‘beacon’ of photon blast can not only destroy incoming light UAVs, but also blind and confuse the navigational attributes of enemy ships (and their drivers). And, the best part is – this entire futuristic ambit is actually pretty cost effective, with each laser shot only setting the military back by around a dollar.
The USS Ponce is currently doing its patrolling duty in the highly disputed waters of the Persian Gulf. In a scenario of ‘killing two birds with a single stone’, the US Navy hopes to test their laser cannon system on the high seas, while also keeping a symbolic tight lease on Iranian affairs pertaining to the volatile region of Strait of Hormuz. According to John Miller, the 5th Fleet commander, if the LaWS passes its initial testing phase, the real-time data gathered from practical marine-oriented situations will be further utilized by military-equipment firms like Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
And lastly, in case some of you have forgotten, the US Army also boasts of a land-based laser cannon system known as the HEL MD, which is being further developed to fire those utterly effective 60kW photon beams.