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Watch: Navy Ship Uses Energy Weapon In Arabian Gulf

A laser weapon system on the USS Ponce has been deployed to the Arabian Gulf. The Navy released a video showing the system taking target practice.
John F. Williams U.S. Navy
A laser weapon system on the USS Ponce has been deployed to the Arabian Gulf. The Navy released a video showing the system taking target practice.

It's not Star Wars on the high seas – but the U.S. Navy says it has made a "historic leap" by deploying a laser weapon system for the first time. The Navy released a video showing the system, based on the USS Ponce in the Arabian Gulf, being used in target practice.

In the video, the weapon, which the Navy says is tied in to the Ponce's defense system, destroys several targets on the sea and in the air. The laser can also optically "dazzle" or disable an enemy craft.

"Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations," Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, says in a news release about the deployment. "We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality."

The Navy says laser weapons have other advantages, as well, including being safer than gunpowder-based ordnance and much cheaper than kinetic weapons such as missiles. Each shot by the laser, Klunder says, costs less than $1.

The video of the laser weapon at work during a deployment comes more than a year after we first reported on what could be a shift in U.S. tactics. News of the plans to deploy the weapon system first emerged in the spring of 2013, when the system successfully destroyed a drone aircraft, as we reported.

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