The United States Navy recently conducted a test with a ship-board laser used to down a drone aircraft. The ship used was an amphibious transport dock ship called the USS Portland, and it successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle using a Solid State Laser. The test was conducted on May 16, using a weapon called the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator or LWSD.
The LSWD is a high-energy laser weapon demonstrator that was developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on the USS Portland for at-C demonstration. The Navy says that the operational employment on a Pacific Fleet ship is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy classic solid-state laser.
The laser system was developed by Northrop Grumman. The Navy has been working on directed-energy weapons, including lasers, since the 1960s. Directed-energy weapons are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing on a target. The result of that focused energy is physical damage that degrades, neutralizes, defeats, or destroys an adversarial capability.
The Navy says that ships face an increasing number of threats and conducting missions, including UAVs, armed boats, adversary intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems. The deployment of the directed-energy weapons gives benefits and provides the ship commander increased decision space and response options.
The video above shows the laser weapon test in action. The beam coming from the ship is incredibly bright and visible in the video. We can clearly see the laser strike the drone causing damage to the wing leading to the aircraft falling out of the sky.