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An invisible beam was fired by the ground-based laser system at the red drone as it flew. A glowing orange glow suddenly appeared on the drone, its engine sputtered, and a parachute unfurled as the drone tumbled downward, disabled by the laser beam.
This was part of an experiment conducted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to test a new laser weapon system to deal with moving targets representing a subsonic cruise missile in flight. The Laser Layered Defense (LLD) was developed, engineered and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. It provides rapid and accurate defense against a variety of threats, according to navalnews.com.
Last February, the U.S. Navy conducted an experiment to determine if lasers can be used to hit airborne targets. As well as intercepting unmanned aerial vehicles, the system also allows for rapid vessel attack. A high-resolution telescope is also part of the system, which allows it to track air threats, support battle detection, and assess the damage to various targets.
UAV interception was conducted as part of a wider effort by the Navy’s Navy in the United States Army’s High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility in New Mexico, in partnership with ONR, in the Department of Defense’s Research and Engineering office, and Lockheed Martin. Currently, the United States is focused on research and development in the field of laser weapons to deal with various threats, by multiple means: from non-lethal means, such as optical glare or neutralizing sensors, to destructive weapons. In the experiment, the LLD system also tracked or intercepted an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a fixed wing, quadcopters and a high-speed UAV that represented cruise missiles.
In addition to providing new and fast precision capabilities that cannot be matched, lasers are also proving to be useful to naval warfighters. The system was also designed with simplified logistics that were found to be safer to operate on ships. Laser weapons are now powered by electricity, making them safer to use and cheaper to operate.