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"Star Wars" for the seas: Laser weapon zaps test vessel

110410-N-IC111-058 PACIFIC OCEAN (April 10, 2011) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and ships from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the Indian navy transit the Pacific Ocean during the conclusion of Exercise MALABAR, a bilateral training operation with the Indian navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin B. Gray/Released)
U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy moved closer toward its goal of deploying a laser weapon against enemy vessels, announcing a successful test in which a solid-state, high-energy laser beam fired from a surface ship disabled a small target vessel.

The two-and-a-half year Maritime Laser Demonstrator project, co-developed with Northrop Grumman, involved a laser mounted onto the deck of the Navy's self-defense test ship, former USS Paul Foster. The test was carried out on April 6 near San Nicholas Island, off the coast of Central California.

Navy officers said this was the first time that offensive lasers have worked successfully as weapons deployed on water.