PORTSMOUTH, R.I.--If you thought laser weapons were just military writer's futuristic fantasy, think again. On Tuesday, Raytheon and the U.S. Navy announced that they have successfully used a high-power, solid-state laser, in conjunction with a Phalanx Close-in Weapon System, to knock four UAVs out of the sky off the coast of California.
The system was electrically powered, and Raytheon said it offers the military a very cost-efficient and nearly unlimited "magazine" for shooting down things like threatening UAVs, or perhaps airplanes. "Once development is completed," Raytheon said in a release, "the Laser Area Weapon System will give the warfighter a speed-of-light solution for defeating rockets, mortars, UAVs, and other targets."
It appears that the defense giant wants to play a dominant role in the U.S. Army's Common Infrared Countermeasures competition. Raytheon Missile Systems has built a weapon known as Scorpion for the competition. Scorpion is expected to feature Raytheon's directed infrared countermeasures turret and a rugged quantum cascade laser. "Scorpion will be a light-weight, low-cost, highly reliable, laser-based infrared countermeasures solution against current and future IR-guided threat missiles," the company said.
CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman was visiting with Raytheon as part of Road Trip 2010 when word of the test came out.