Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy hope to use similar lasers against small aerial targets and unarmored boats in the near future.
United States Navy ships each year face many threats. While large threats mandate heavy munitions or rockets, the majority of threats are from small motorboats with armed occupants. Dealing with these threats is tricky -- larger munitions are potentially lethal and expensive. But using smaller munitions places the ship's crew at risk. Thus the non-lethal accuracy of a laser weapon would be a highly desirable tool for the U.S. maritime warriors.
Sailors' dreams of having such a weapon at their disposal advanced a step forward to reality, with NorthropGrumman Corp. (NOC) and the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) completing the first live test [press release] of a solid state weapon laser at sea.
The laser strikes the engine of the moving motorboat.
On fire the ship is now crippled as it is struck by four foot waves.
On Wednesday the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned destroyer, was retrofitted with Northrop Grumman's 15-kilowatt solid-state high-energy laser (HEL) prototype. The laser creates a high-energy burst of light by running electrons through specially designed pieces of glass or crystals.
The eventual goal of the $98M USD Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) is to install 100-kilowatt lasers on ships. But the smaller 15-kilowatt system proved it might be sufficiently deadly for some applications.
Motoring into the U.S.'s Pacific testing range near San Nicholas Island off the coast of central California, the ship set its aim at a large inflatable motorboat, moving a mile away. Firing a pulse of light, the experimental laser struck a crippling blow damaging the engines and setting them on fire. The target was crippled, floating dead in the ocean. ...
via DailyTech - Navy Uses Laser to Cripple Ship in First Sea Test.
Don't worry, it could never be used against a human target. There are moisture detectors that shut it off if it gets too close and risks burning someone alive. :-/