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US Navy to Use Star Wars-style Lasers

From Star Wars to Austin Powers, we're all agreed on one thing: that lasers (especially on sharks or death stars) are cool.

And they could be about to enter the battleground in real life as the US Navy has announced plans to deploy its first laser weapon on a ship later this year. It is also planning to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype over within two years.

The plan is to use the lasers against objects such as aerial drones, speedboats and swarm boats, with the beam of energy capable of burning through its target or corrupting electronics. Disappointingly, you can't actually see the beam of energy - purely its effects.

There are, however, a few barriers to their effective use: lasers are less effective when it's raining, dusty or if there is a turbulent atmosphere. Rail guns, meanwhile, require huge amounts of energy to work; currently only one destroyer - the Zumwalt - has the capacity to power one.

The laser prototype will be installed on USS Ponce this summer: surely it's just a matter of time before some full on laser battles on the high seas.

[via Independent]

(Images: AllStar)