Behind the Scenes: Laser Weapon System Operational Demonstration

The U.S. Navy deployed and successfully tested its Laser Weapon System (LaWS) in the Persian Gulf. The operational demonstrations, which took place from September to November 2014 aboard USS Ponce, were historic not only because they showed a laser weapon working aboard a deployed U.S. Navy ship, but also because LaWS operated seamlessly with existing ship defense systems. During the tests, LaWS hit targets mounted aboard a speeding oncoming small boat, shot a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle out of the sky, and destroyed other moving targets at sea. The Navy has already demonstrated the effectiveness of lasers in a variety of maritime settings; this recent demonstration confirms continued significant progress on directed-energy weapons.