Oh, United States Navy, you had me at “lasers” and “pirates”.
The US Navy’s MLD system, designed and built by defense contractor Northrop Grumman, is a bit different in nature. The MLD is a 15 kilowatt laser specifically designed to handle the pitch and roll of a ship deck without losing track of its target. When fired, it can reach targets up to a mile away, and in its first test the laser disabled a small boat by setting fire to the outboard engines on the back.
With a few short pulses, the engines were in flames, the rear of the small boat was engulfed shortly afterward. The MLD could very well, if it proves functional enough to be mounted on ships, be a weapon against small enemy vessels and pirates…
That, folks, is not the best part of this story. I know it may seem like it is, what the the images you now have in your mind of fleets of fast attack boats firing lasers at craven Somali pirate ships, exploding them higher than yon like the most awesome episode of G.I. Joe ever. But hold your imagination in check just a little longer for the real payoff — the rest of that last sentence.
…but while the Navy considered the test a success, they noted it’s only a small indicator of the eventual power of the laser system.
The eventual power? Forget shooting down missiles. I’m pretty sure “the eventual power” is Navy Weapon Geek Secret Code for “Wave Motion Gun”.
Let’s get that working and then develop an interstellar propulsion system we can mount on a battleship and we’re in business!