The Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which will be used to protect vessels from drones and other small aircraft, will be deployed this summer with the USS Ponce, the technology website Ars Technica reported. LaWS accomplishes its task by causing a drone’s sensors to malfunction or, with enough energy, bursting it into flames.
“The effects are scalable,” Navy Capt. Mike Ziv, the Naval Sea Systems Command’s program manager for directed energy and electric weapons, told Armed With Science, a Department of Defense blog. “In some cases [the weapon’s effects are] reversible, and in some cases it can be used for destruction.”
In May 2013 the system successfully completed a test to target, blind, and then destroy a drone in flight from the deck of a ship, Ars Technica reported. The system, however, will not replace more traditional weapons for taking care of large targets.