The Pearl Harbor-based USS Preble will be the first destroyer to be equipped with a high-energy laser to counter surface craft and unmanned aerial systems, according to a published report, with the Navy planning to one day use the powerful light beams to defend against Chinese or Russian cruise missiles.

Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, the Navy's director of surface warfare, told Defense News that the Preble will be outfitted in 2021 with the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical- dazzler With Surveillance system, or HELIOS.

"We are making the decision to put the laser on our (destroyers)," Boxall said. "It's going to start with Preble in 2021, and when we do that, that will now be her close-in weapon that we now continue to upgrade," according to Defense News.

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An artist's depiction of the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) in action. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

The Navy intends to mount a laser weapons system aboard a guided-missile destroyer for user against small enemy watercraft in the next two years, the head of the service's surface warfare directorate announced on Wednesday.

"We are going to burn the boats if you will and move forward with this technology," Rear Adm. Ron Boxall said during an industry summit in Washington, D.C., according to USNI News.

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