Mounted aboard the destroyer USS Ponce, the 30-kilowatt solid-state laser successfully hit targets on the water and in the air. Moreover, the new weapon will be exceedingly more affordable per shot than the Ponce's other point-defense weapons, with the Navy claiming it costs just 59 cents per shot.
"We've tested it in the lab we've tested it operationally at sea. Now, we are not testing it anymore. This is operational," the Navy's chief of research, Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, told Military.com. "If we had to defend that ship today, it will destroy any threat that comes in-bound. We have the ROE (rules of engagement) to support that."
Military.com reports that there are more benefits to the ship-mounted laser than accuracy or cost-per-shot, though. As they only depend on electricity, beam weapons don't require stores of ammunition that could unintentionally detonate in the event of an enemy attack. The long-range telescope used for targeting also doubles as an intelligence-gathering tool for sailors.
With the Ponce's successful application of the new weapon, the Navy reports that it's only a matter of time before the efficient, accurate weapons are applied across the fleet.
"We've done analytical work and we know what ships we can put it on. Frankly it is a lot of them in the naval inventory. We're talking through which ones we might want to do in the future, specifically those more suited to the higher power 100 to 150 kilowatt laser. That is the one we are really targeting for more extensive use," Rear Adm. Klunder told Military.com.