NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.--The Navy's top officer unveiled new technology Monday that allows ships to shoot down drones or other vehicles for about the cost of a pack of gum.
The USS Dewey tested an onboard laser weapons system in July 2012, in which it successfully shot down a test drone. Navy Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of Naval Operations, screened video of the event while speaking at the Sea-Air-Space expo.
The Laser Weapon System or LaWS only costs roughly $1 per shot and could be employed against fast attack ships or even be used in the future for missile defense.
This kind of "non-kinetic" weapon that does not involve shooting a projectile at an enemy craft will define the future of naval war, Greenert said.
"I want to get it out into the environment into which we might one day deploy it," he said at the annual expo organized by the Navy League.
Adm. Greenert, CNO, explains the new laser program:
"You've seen what it's suited to: A small drone, or something like that," Greenert says. "It might also be suited to be able to address small boats or fast craft."
Greenert compared the weapon to others such as the Tomahawk missile, which costs roughly $1.3 million each, or other long-range cruise missiles whose price tags can exceed $20 million.
Developing the technology to "hold and regenerate" the laser then allows the Navy to begin looking at employing it against other targets.
"Someday it could it be missile defense? Perhaps. We're not there now," Greenert said.
The USS Ponce will be outfitted with the device within less than a year, he added.