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Toasted: Navy laser weapon zaps outboards off CA coast

In a test of an ocean-going laser weapon off the coast of California, the U.S. Navy “cooked” the outboard motor of a small boat bobbing more than a mile away, according to Michael Deitchman, director of air warfare and weapons at the Office of Naval Research! The technology could be used to protect naval vessels or immobilize pirates.

The Navy, of course, is guarding the specifics, but the video is popular on YouTube. Researchers mounted the Maritime Laser Demonstrator aboard the decommissioned destroyer USS Paul Foster, and the solid-state laser fired a 15-kilowatt beam at the inflatable motorboat target as BOTH moved through the sea. The laser was linked successfully to the existing tracking and targeting system on the USS Paul Foster. The Navy hopes that solid state lasers will be aboard ships in the next decade, eventually destroying incoming missiles, a goal that will require at least 100 kilowatts of power.

The Office of Naval Research is also working on a much more powerful Free Electron Laser weapon that will be able to cut through 20 feet of steel per second, once it gets up to the megawatt class. The laser will function across multiple frequencies.

-Bill at

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