A sci-fi staple for decades, laser weapons are finally becoming reality in the US military, albeit with capabilities a little less dramatic than at the movies.
Lightsabers — the favored weapon of the Jedi in “Star Wars” films — will remain in the fictional realm for now, but after decades of development, laser weapons are now here and are being deployed on military vehicles and planes.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon — all the big defense players — are developing prototypes for the Pentagon.
The Navy has since 2014 been testing a 30-kilowatt laser on one of its warships, the USS Ponce.
Lockheed Martin has just announced a 60-kilowatt laser weapon that soon will be installed on an Army truck for operational testing against mortars and small drones.
The weapon can take out a drone from a distance of about 500 yards (meters) by keeping its beam locked onto the target for a few seconds, Jim Murdoch, an international business development director at Lockheed, told reporters this week.
But unlike in the movies, the laser beam is invisible to the naked eye.