Our inner Trekkie's really worked up right now, because our Star Trek tech dreams are getting closer to reality with this announcement. Sadly, it's not the USS Enterprise, but rather the hilariously-named USS Ponce that'll have the honour of being the first ship to be equipped with an actual working laser weapon. Or, as the US Navy would call it, the Laser Weapons System (LaWS). Personally, we would've preferred the terms turbolasers or phasers.
Don’t get too excited though. This isn’t the sort of laser weapon that’ll vaporise enemy ships or cut through steel hulls like butter. Instead it’s actually a low cost way for the Navy to defend against drones, small boats, light aircrafts, and missiles. The closest the LaWS will ever get to major destruction is if it focuses enough energy to set fire to a smaller target, or explodes the fuel aboard it.
It might sound a bit disappointing, but LaWS is just the first step to actual high-energy weapons being deployed. There are already developments being made for more powerful lasers and rail guns, but only time will tell if they’ll be made within our lifetimes.
Source: Ars Technica