Navy Successfully Tests Drone-Killing Laser

posted on June 4, 2020

On May 16, 2020, the USS Portland, an amphibious transport dock ship, successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a solid-state laser. The Department of Defense has experimented and deployed a variety of devices to shield against UAV attack, including shoulder-mounted electronic devices designed to scramble circuitry or jam radio signals, firearms and even net launchers, but continues its search for something to increase distance and effectiveness against larger targets.

“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” said Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of USS Portland. The successful test is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser.

The problem isn’t exclusive to the military, either. In October 2018 FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate committee, “"The FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, UAVs will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering."

Large UAVs are not the only concern. Inexpensive commercial drones have become a serious security threat for U.S. forces in the global war on terrorism and are employed by ISIS to drop grenades on allied forces and scout unobstructed routes for suicide bombers.

The U.S. Navy has been developing directed-energy weapons (DEWs), including lasers, since the 1960s. DEWs are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that degrades, neutralizes, defeats or destroys an adversarial capability.

U.S. ships face an increasing number of threats in conducting their missions, including UAVs, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The Navy’s development of DEWs will provide immediate commanders additional options when facing a potential threat.


Burnside Carbine Ihtog 1
Burnside Carbine Ihtog 1

I Have This Old Gun: Burnside Carbine

In the American Civil War, there was an incredible variety of small arms used, particularly within cavalry units. One of the most popular cavalry carbines used throughout the war was the Burnside carbine.

New For 2024: Mossberg Patriot 400 Legend

Mossberg expanded its Patriot bolt-action rifle line to encompass one of the newest straight-wall hunting cartridges on the market: 400 Legend.

I Have This Old Gun: Norinco 84S

The Norinco 84S presents the same general appearance as the Chinese-made 56S because it has the same overall length, is built around a stamped sheet-steel receiver and uses the same hooded front sight base, the same 45-degree gas block, the same fire-control components, the same wood furniture and the same high-polish blued finish.

Rifleman Q&A: Boattail Bullets And Barrel Erosion

In the recent spate of “long-range” boattail bullets presented to the market, I’ve observed the boattail’s degree of departure from the bullet’s cylindrical axis varies substantially from one design to another.

Quick Hits On 10 6.5 mm Cartridges

With so many 6.5 mm cartridges from which to choose, deciding on the one that’s right for you can be a challenge—so here’s a quick guide to help sort them out.

The Armed Citizen® Feb. 19, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.