For the past few years, the United States military has been experimenting with laser weapons. These next-generation weapons promise to be cheaper than conventional missiles, and much more powerful.
On Tuesday night, the United States Navy was set to test a powerful laser over Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Oddly enough, while there was plenty of notice about the test in area news sources — The Town of Morningside, Maryland, for instance, reported that the laser would be shot a whopping 13 miles between three points. But after the fact, a virtual media blackout ensued. It’s not even clear whether the test even took place.
The exact purpose and results of the operation weren’t being made public, as the Navy has been (understandably) not forthcoming with specifics about the laser, other than to say that it wouldn’t cause any damage to the human eye.
“The eye-safe green laser will be transmitted across the Chesapeake Bay to evaluate the performance of a laser system at long range over water,” U.S. Naval Research Laboratory spokesman Steven Van Der Werff told The Sun prior to Tuesday’s test.
The Town of Morningside, Maryland, reported that the laser would be shot a whopping 13 miles between three points. In terms of lasers, that is very powerful.
While the Navy won’t come out with an official explanation of what this laser does, we can guess that it is some sort of weapons system that would someday be outfitting on a Naval vessel.
The military has been experimenting with outfitting various platforms with laser weapons. While naval ships have been the most successful in being outfitted with lasers, the military has been interested in miniaturizing lasers even further to put them on tanks, planes and other vehicles.
The Washington Post reported that defense contractor Raytheon had successfully put a laser on a U.S. Army Apache AH-64 helicopter and successfully test fired it.
While lasers are expensive to develop, ultimately it is an investment that will pay off. While a standard missile may cost anywhere from several thousands to a few million dollars to both build and fire, a laser only costs a few dollars (or pennies) to fire (though it costs millions to develop and build)
Having laser weapons outfitted on our various military platforms will ensure that America can maintain an edge in any military conflict around the world for years.
Here’s to hoping that someone in a military lab is working on photon torpedoes, warp drive and all those other cool “Star Trek” (or “Star Wars”)-type things.
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H/T Navy Times