U.S. Navy Successfully Test-Fires Ship-Based Laser

Two months ago, the U.S. Navy announced that they had set a new world record in laser technology.  They had made the first 500kV free-electron laser capable of burning through 20 feet of steel per second.

This event brought the Office for Naval Research a great deal closer to the dream: a 100+ kilowatt laser, presumably to carve NAVY [heart] ONR on the face of the moon.

us navy ship laser

The theory for this technology was propped up in the ’70s and has been cruising along ever since then.  The idea is to use an accelerator to fire a hose of hyper-velocity electrons past two interlaced, alternating banks of electromagnets which cause the electrons to spin off photons at frequencies relative to the magnetic oscillation in the direction of the accelerated particles.  Bam! Just like boxing.

diagram of navy laser

Without pushing the voltage up it would not have been possible to match the amperage needed to make this technology go from watt to kilowatt; the difference between popping corn and columns of fire from the heavens.

popcorn scene from true genius

Now the ONR has made the ship-board laser theory pass another test: setting it up on one ship, they fired it at another and “disabled” it.  We don’t really know what “disabled” means but from the video available, it means “Dude, we totally set that shit on fire!”

Yes, the Navy succeeded at setting a biggish outboard on fire with a laser and not torpedoes or really big guns or even a bunch of match heads and a molotov.

To be fair this was a test to see if the HEL would not have some kind of unforeseen reaction with sea spray, and let’s be honest, the guys at ONR don’t get much sun and this is good for them.

ship laser

The HEL still has a couple of hurdles.  It needs to be matched with an appropriate power source and it still needs an operating platform; literally some way to aim it.

Then watch out, Somali pirates, because the U.S. Navy will finally have the upper hand!  Also, woohoo, lasers!

Read More On:

Latest Reviews

  • Four Years Later: IWI Tavor SAR Revisited

    Though IWI's X95, released in 2016, usurps the SAR, my Tavor SAR is still part of the family. For those just now coming across this model, how has it stood up over the years? Let's find out.

    Read More
  • Scope Review: Leupold VX-Freedom FireDot Twilight Hunter

    The budget-friendly line of American-made Leupold VX-Freedom riflescopes found a welcome audience last year, but 2020 sees even more interesting additions to the family, with our hands-down favorite being the illuminated-reticle FireDot line.

    Read More
  • Ruger AR-556: An Outstanding Gateway AR

    It should come as no surprise the Ruger name is synonymous with value, and its’ AR-556 looks to fit this mold as an entry-level AR-15 with a reasonable MSRP. So how does the no-frills Ruger AR-556 perform when put to the test? Read on to find out.

    Read More
  • A Look at the Sig P238, A Year Later

    The Sig Sauer P238 was the first .380 ACP BUG to grace my gun safe, a welcomed addition to the 9mm polymers, .38 SPL revolvers, and .45 ACP 1911s. After more than a year's worth of use, where do I stand on the P238? Let's find out.

    Read More

Loading