US navy successfully tests giant laser against drones

Hammer of Dawn attack
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Laser weapons are among the most fun sci-fi futuristic mainstays of videogames. It's always awesome to be tropesing around some game only to pick up a huge laser cannon, like the Spartan Laser from Halo, ready to ruin the enemies day. Though this dude only needs a sniper for the same effect. There's nothing quite like a high powered beam of light to totally annihilate whatever's in its destructive path, even if that's just dirt with a vacuum cleaner.

In super terrifying news, one such laser weapon was recently tested by the US Navy. The Layered Laser Defence (LLD) weapon is designed to take out missile targets was successfully tested back in February.

The LLD can use its laser to dazzle, distract, disable, or destroy sensors, or straight up just burn targets until they explode. The tests back in February were conducted in US Army’s High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico by the Office of Naval Research. During these tests, the LLD complete with AI tracking was able to shoot down quadcopters, fixed wing vehicles, and even managed to get the hit on high speed drones.

It sounds kind of like a reverse Hammer of Dawn, being that it comes from ship instead of space. Still, I'm sure they'll get these things into satellites for the real deal soon enough.

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This is an all electric laser that gets power from the ship it's installed on. So other than power, it doesn't require any ammunition or other propellants. This makes it one of the first laser weapons to be efficient enough for proper use, and a real sign that we're entering an interesting future indeed. 

“The Navy performed similar tests during the 1980s but with chemical-based laser technologies that presented significant logistics barriers for fielding in an operational environment. And, ultimately, those types of lasers did not transition to the fleet or any other Service,” said Dr Frank Peterkin, ONR’s directed energy portfolio manager.

It was also stated that while tests are going very well for the LLD, it's not yet slated for any real world use. So far it seems like a very viable avenue for military laser use, so no doubt we'll be seeing it implemented soon enough. Though hopefully just in the next Call of Duty as opposed to real life.

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast right here. No, she’s not kidding.