"It is more precise than a bullet… It's not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military. This is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets," Christopher Wells, the ship captain, told CNN.
LaWs was tested on a drone which fell into the sea after being hit by the laser beam. The Navy said that LaWS operates within an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum and is absolutely silent.
In Moscow, military expert Boris Rozhin said that the US has been developing laser weapons since the times of Cold War.
“After the Soviet breakup some of the Soviet-designed technology and specialists surfaced in the United States apparently giving a boost to the US program which has made certain headway with laser weapons mounted on sea, land-based and airborne carriers,” Rozhin said.
He noted that even though full-scale deployment of such weapons in the armed forces was still way off, working prototypes could eventually be supplied to the US Navy or the Air Force.
“The test was also a sort of a warning signal to Iran which is perceived by America’s allies in the region as a security threat. Such teats are meant to show America’s technological edge over Iran’s missile and future weapons capability,” Boris Rozhin observed.
According to CNN, the LaWS was designed to destroy airborne targets and small boats.
The system has been in test and development mode aboard on USS Ponce since August 2014.
Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, then said that it was the first case of directed energy weapons use in an operational environment.
“What they demonstrated in the Persian Gulf was shooting down a drone made of plastic. At a certain distance a laser beam can be effective against plastic surfaces. The laser was fired from a ship because it needs a powerful, 350-450 kilowatt source of energy, which is bulky, that’s why it is installed on ships. The longer the distance to target, the weaker the laser beam becomes, and at long distances it becomes useless altogether,” Leonkov said.
He added that when used against one-off non-metallic targets, the laser does the job, but it is absolutely useless against multiple targets. It is also useless against armored targets. The only thing it is effective against optical and electronic gear, which it can “blind” and send off target.
“This kind of weapon does not change the existing balance of forces, but it creates a great deal of impression on potential investors,” Leonkov noted.