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Raytheon's killer laser 4, UAVs (photos)

Road Trip 2010: The defense giant says its high power, solid-state laser, and Phalanx Close-in Weapon System downed four UAVs.

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Daniel Terdiman
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Laser weapon

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.

Click here to read the related story on Raytheon's laser weapon, and click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Direct hit!

In this image taken from a video of the encounter, the laser weapon impacts a UAV, causing an instant explosion.

Click here to read the related story on Raytheon's laser weapon, and click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Plummeting

The UAV comes plummeting out of the sky, trailing fire and smoke.

Click here to read the related story on Raytheon's laser weapon, and click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Splash

The UAV hits the water.

Click here to read the related story on Raytheon's laser weapon, and click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Sinking

After being hit high in the sky by a Raytheon-build laser weapon, this UAV splashes down and begins to sink.

Click here to read the related story on Raytheon's laser weapon, and click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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