It's only taken a few years and a hundred million tax bucks, but the US Navy is a step closer to what Rear Admiral Nevin Carr wet-dreamingly describes as his "Megawatt death ray". The experimental Maritime Laser Demonstrator lit shit up.
The MLD is a solid-state laser, and was mounted aboard a decommissioned destroyer for this test, which, as you can see above, knocked out the engines on the small target vessel. It's not exactly, uh, the Death Star, but the Navy clearly sees laser-based weaponry as a major part of its future, eventually hoping for beams that can slice through hulls and knock missiles out of the sky. As with any military project, don't expect this to come soon (or for cheap) - but it's a sign that laser warfare won't be permanently confined to science fiction. They've still got a way to go before Admiral Carr's death ray is ready, however - this guy is only operating at 15 kilowatts. This all just makes me more upset about the Wicked Laser. [via Danger Room]