In the real world, lasers have been used for a variety of purposes: welding, surgery, hair removal, CDs, sniper rifle scopes, and blinding that kid across the room in middle school. But it wasn’t until the US Navy field tested its new Direct Energy weapon system for the second time last month – tracking, engaging, and destroying two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) off the coast of San Nicholas Island, California – that the laser showed any valuable combat function.
This brings the total of destroyed UAVs up to seven since “tactical development” for fielding the laser system first began. According to the press release from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), such a occasion “marks the first Detect-Thru-Engage laser shoot-down of a threat representative target in an over-the-water, combat representative scenario.”
The laser was fired through a beam director on a KINETO Tracking Mount, operated by a MK 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS). Science-fiction combat just got real. It may be sooner than we think before we see laser rifles and turrets being used in military operations.
Two words: Death Star.