Clearly the coolest thing about being part of the armed forces is being allowed to shoot really big, awesome guns. What’s even cooler? Being able to shoot a really cool big, awesome laser!
And that’s exactly what researchers aboard the USS Paul Foster got to do last week off the coast of California as they fired a 15-kilowatt beam at an inflatable boat, destroying the engines and leaving it dead in the water.
Although the Navy has been interested in laser technology for some time now, Wednesday’s test marks the first test taking place in a "no-kidding maritime environment," says director Rear Adm. Nevin Carr.
"I spent my life at sea," Carr told Wired, "and I never thought we'd see this kind of progress this quickly, where we're approaching a decision of when we can put laser weapons on ships."
Carr noted the eventual goal was to create a laser capable of 100 kilowatts of power that "can be operated in existing power levels and cooling levels on ships today."
The Navy is also looking to "develop the tactics, the techniques, the procedures and the safety procedures that sailors are going to need to wield laser weapons. And then it's time to scale up the laser's power," explains Carr.
"This is an important data point," the admiral says, "but I still want the megawatt death ray."
Megawatt death ray?! Sounds destructive.