When it comes to wonderful toys, the United States Navy has some of the best evar. For example, the Navy now has lasers that can shoot down drones.
In a combined test with those crazy kids at Raytheon, the Navy shot down four unmanned aerial test vehicles over water.
Sadly, the lasers were not mounted on the heads of sharks or mutant sea bass, but were instead part of the Navy's Laser Weapon System guided by Raytheon's Phalanx Close-in Weapon System sensor suite.
The LaWS system is a combined beam fiber system, consisting of six "industrial use" lasers that simultaneously focus on the target, as the video at the top of this article shows.
The laser system was mounted to the Navy's Phalanx close-in shipboard defense system. When defending a ship, there's a range of defenses that come online, and if a missile passes through one defense, the next is expected to take it out.
Phalanx, as deployed today, is the last automated shipboard defense against incoming missiles. Given that the Phalanx fires projectiles at a rate of 3,000 to 4,500 rounds per minute, the day I got to watch a Phalanx system shoot down a target was one of the cooler "toy" experiences I've ever had. Sadly, when I asked, I was told I was not going to be allowed to take one home. Sigh.
In terms of the laser-based test, the Navy/Raytheon team married up the Phalanx electro-optical tracking and the system's radio frequency sensors to the six industrial lasers and when the UAVs came into range, the targeting team let loose the beams, shooting down each target.
This is still early in the laser system's development process, so there won't be any frickin' lasers deployed for quite a few years. Even so, it was an impressive technology display.
Sadly, there apparently is no truth to the rumor that the new laser system has any relationship to the Alan Parson's Project.
For the record, I did not write this article merely as an excuse to publish Dr. Evil clips. Not at all. That was just a pleasant frickin' coincidence.