US Navy Laser Ready For Use

The Office of Naval Research has announced that its Laser Weapons System (LaWs) is ready for use; in a statement, Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, stated that that laser weapons are now both powerful and affordable.

(US Navy LaWs weapon test video, 2014)

During the tests, which took place aboard USS Ponce, the Laser Weapon System (LaWs) hit targets on top of a speeding oncoming small boat, shot a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle out of the sky and destroyed other moving targets in the water.

"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," Klunder said.

Although this isn't really a science-fictional reference, I'm compelled to add that I saw this idea clearly visualized in 1964, in Mystery of the Lizard Men, an episode of Jonny Quest.

(From Mystery of the Lizard Men, 1964)

Only fifty years from cartoon to reality; not bad, considering.

The first use of the idea of a weaponized beam of light energy is probably the heat ray from H.G. Wells' 1898 classic War of the Worlds:

(From 1906 version of War of the Worlds)

...Slowly a humped shape rose out of the pit, and the ghost of a beam of light seemed to flicker out from it.

Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leaping from one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men. It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them and flashed into white flame. It was as if each man were suddenly and momentarily turned to fire.

Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.

I stood staring, not as yet realising that this was death leaping from man to man in that little distant crowd. All I felt was that it was something very strange. An almost noiseless and blinding flash of light, and a man fell headlong and lay still; and as the unseen shaft of heat passed over them, pine trees burst into fire, and every dry furze bush became with one dull thud a mass of flames.

Via New York Times.

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