Navy Will Use Laser Guns to Fight Pirates

It sounds like the plotline for a young boy’s bedtime story. But real-life laser weapons are being tested by the U.S. Navy and their first target is modern day pirates who are tormenting shippers and sailors on the northeast coast of Africa.

A ship-based laser could seriously turn up the heat on Somali pirates. Last week the Navy successfully tested a solid-state high-energy laser from a ship.

While it didn’t have the high-pitched movie laser sound found in the movies, the laser was aimed at a small boat and disabled the engines without any other damage. Bullets from traditional guns don’t have the precision of a laser and tend to ricochet off targets and strike bystanders. The new laser can also be dialed up or down to go from lethal beam to just a nuisance, says the Office of Naval Research.

British defense contractor BAE Systems has been working on the non-lethal version of the laser to be used on commercial ships to protect them from pirates.
These Free Electron Laser (FEL) guns are also likely going to be a big part of the Navy’s future fight against pirates.

“From a science and technology point of view, the marriage of directed energy and kinetic energy weapon systems opens up a new level of deterrence into scalable options for the commander.” — Navy Rear Admiral Nevin Carr.

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