As explained recently, usage of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) by the US Army is so widespread in war zones, that their total mission hours have just reached the one million threshold. Naturally though, the fact that pilotless aircraft do not bear any risk for ground personnel does not keep them safe from being, in turn, exposed to the danger of being brought down, in spite of the fact that their small size and their electric power makes them difficult to identify and strike.
On the other hand, the US Army is certainly not the only one that uses UAVs, and to defend themselves from possible enemy attacks or reconnaissance missions carried out via drones, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has developed a laser gun, specifically designed to identify and hit this kind of aerial vehicles, especially in scenarios of war at sea.
The gun, called LaWS (Laser Weapon System) shoots a laser beam, controlled by a guidance and location system; so far, during a series of test runs, the laser gun has brought down a total of seven remotely controlled aircraft. In the future, thanks to the integration of even more powerful and accurate laser beams, US Navy researchers hope that they can extend the system’s operating range, and power it up so that it can strike a diverse range of flying targets.
Thanks to these laser systems, it will be possible not only to bring down enemy drones, but most of all, to do it in a much more soet-efficient way when compared to the usage of conventional weapons mounted on rockets. Furthermore, the laser defense system could, in a future that we hope will never come true, be mounted on commercial airliners, as an active defense against potential terrorist threats and attacks with rockets or missiles.