According to the Office of Naval Research, the US Navy is moving fast on arming their sea going vessels with working prototype laser guns. According to Wired’s Danger Room, the Navy hopes to have working lasers in use in roughly four years time.
As reported last April by Guns.com, the US had successfully tested and disabled a boats outboard motor from distance of “miles” with a 15-kilowatt beam from a solid state laser.
In short the lasers are generated by running electrons through crystals or optical fibers. (For a more in depth explanation of the technology check out the Guns.com article from last June or the How Stuff Works article that describes laser weapons.)
Lasers on deck has been a dream of the Navy for decades and they are finally confidant the technology has reached a level of maturity where they can start the approval and contract bidding process. The navy has long term goals of using free electron lasers, which are capable of a much more powerful force and burst capability, but that technology is still in its infancy for practical use.
What you will be seeing deployed in the next few years will be solid state 100 watt lasers capable of handling “not the most hardened” threats.
So hear hear to the Bully Boys for furthering American ingenuity and once again proving the future is here.