Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

'Near-Instantaneous Lethality': Navy Laser Weapon Now Fully Armed and Operational

 / Updated 

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

An experimental laser that was being tested by the U.S. Navy is now battle-ready.

The Navy said Wednesday it has deployed its Laser Weapons System (LaWS), which has the capability of disabling a ship and shooting down aircraft. The weapon — the first of its kind in any of the military branches — was tested in September and is now mounted aboard the U.S.S. Ponce in the Persian Gulf.

A video released by the Navy shows an operator using a game console-like controller, maneuvering the laser weapon, and striking targets aboard a dummy vessel. The laser beam — using 30 kilowatts of power — can't be seen by the naked eye. In the video, the targets, including an unmanned drone, explode into pieces in a show meant to "dazzle and destroy."

"We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality," Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, said in a statement.

The prototype technology was developed over seven years at a $40 million price tag. Subsequent versions of LaWS will have 5 times the destructive force at 150 kilowatts, military officials said. Deployment of those weapons would be carried out in two to three years.

The military has been touting the use of lasers for their cost-effectiveness. While shooting a missile can cost millions of dollars, each shot of the laser system allegedly costs about 59 cents, The Washington Post reported.

Lasers capable of blasting drones and other targets are also seen as the future of military hardware. But their competency in warfare remains to be seen. "I would be surprised if it actually becomes a useful weapon in the next 50 years," Rebecca Slayton, a professor at Cornell’s Department of Science & Technology, told NBC News in September.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

IN-DEPTH

SOCIAL

— Jim Miklaszewski and Erik Ortiz

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Leave your email if you’d like us to respond. (Optional)

Please enter a valid email address

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.