The US Navy has tried out a real-life ray gun with shocking results
Buck Rogers watch out, the next generation of maritime warfare is here and it’s laser-based.
Researchers have successfully tested the Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) off the Californian coast, disabling an idling RIB floating a mile away.
The MLD is a solid-state laser, mounted aboard the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned destroyer. The laser fires a 15-kilowatt beam capable of dealing some pretty serious damage.
As the above video shows, there was a flash on the boat’s outboard engines, igniting both of them in seconds, and leaving the ship dead in the choppy waters.
The US Navy hopes that by the next decade, solid state lasers – which generate powerful beams of light by running electrons through crystals or glass – will be aboard its surface ships, disabling enemy vessels and eventually burning incoming missiles out of the sky.
The navy is also working on a much more powerful Free Electron Laser weapon thanks to ONR’s research. That laser works across multiple wavelengths, compensating for debris in the sea air, to cut through 2000 feet of steel per second once it gets up to megawatt class.
Its electron injectors are ahead of schedule and ONR expects it to be ready in the 2020s, though after its solid state cousins are operative.