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Enemy drones threaten not only ground targets but also maritime ones. The newest weapon in the US Navy’s arsenal is a laser dazzler that can intercept enemy drones threatening surface ships. The stand-alone laser system is designed to blind the sensors on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

The Navy has successfully installed its first Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) laser weapon aboard one of its warships, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105).

According to newatlas.com, unlike other laser weapons that are designed to destroy targets with blasts of concentrated laser light, ODIN is what is known as a dazzler laser. That is, it’s one of a class of lasers that are intended to blind or distract rather than destroy. 

Though the legality of using such lasers against human pilots restricts them to only distracting the person by acting like the glare of oncoming headlamps, such lasers can also disable or destroy delicate optical sensors on drones.

ODIN went from an approved idea to installation in only two and a half years, as the Navy said. Over the next two years, ODIN will be deployed throughout the fleet as an anti-drone defense and the experience gained will be used in future Surface Navy Laser Weapon Systems.

In fact, ODIN is the successor of the US Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which was the first deployed on the USS Ponce (LPD-15) in 2014. This experience provided the expertise needed to complete the development of ODIN.

The use of a laser beam against drones has been recently demonstrated by the Israeli-developed drone defense system Drone Dome, by Rafael, when it intercepted multiple targets and shot them down with a laser beam. In this case, the laser effector locks and tracks the target, and the laser beam destroys the target.