Boeing's next generation compact laser weapons system is one step closer to the battlefield after a test in California where it disabled a moving, untethered unmanned aerial vehicle.
The system uses an up to two kilowatt laser focused on the tail of a drone to disable it and cause it to crash. It's a much more effective method than using a missile that could cost up to 3 million dollars. Each firing of the laser costs a couple of dollars.
The laser is an off the shelf commercial one and Boeing's developed the optical and target acquisition system. It has pinpoint accuracy and it makes sure there is a clear line of sight to and beyond the target when firing. That's important because unlike missiles, a laser's light continues after penetrating its target.
Boeing's main customer is the US military. Enemies can buy drones for cheap and outfit them with explosives or use them for reconnaissance. Being able to disable them quickly and cheaply is important. Boeing is incorporating feedback from a recent test and wouldn't say when the system would be ready.