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

The Navy is scared to death that rival countries like China, Russia and Iran might sink its multibillion dollar surface ships with powerful cruise missiles and waves of cheap drones. But while ship-mounted lasers could be the Navy's most effective response to these threats, a new Congressional Research Service report on directed energy weapons indicates many of the Navy's newest destroyers might not have enough power to fire them.

The Navy "will have to either remove something or look at 'very aggressive power management,'" in order to install one 60 kilowatt laser system, called the high-energy laser with integrated optical dassler and surveillance (HELIOS), onto the newest flight of Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the report said, citing Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, director of Navy Surface Warfare, who was quoted in several news articles.

"[W]e are out of Schlitz with regard to power," Boxall said, noting that the Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyers are already strapped powering the new AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar. "'We used a lot of power for that and we don't have as much' extra for additional functions."

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(U.S. Army/C. Todd Lopez)

After years of testing out a low-energy Stryker-mounted directed energy system, the Army is formally pushing for a combat-ready laser weapon to blast enemy drones and ordnance out of the sky in the next four years.

The Army is officially accelerating the prototyping and fielding of four Stryker vehicles outfitted with 50 kW-class laser weapons by fiscal year 2022, the service announced on July 26, a ten-fold increase over the 5 kW-class system that artillery soldiers have been testing in Germany since early 2018.

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(Wikimedia Commons/Ein Dahmer)

Germany is planning to install a laser cannon on its warships.

A K-130 class corvette next year will receive a prototype high-energy laser weapons system, or HELWS, for a two-year demonstration, according to German media and European defense contractor MBDA, whose Rheinmetall subsidiary will build the device.

"The HELWS demonstrator for this opportunity will be optimized for the counter-unmanned aerial system (CUAS) threat spectrum, including drones, mini-drones and micro-drones," MBDA spokesman Günter Abel told the National Interest.

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(U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)

Just as everyone has unique fingerprints, everyone also has a unique heartbeat, and that concept is crucial to the US military's newest identification device.

The Department of Defense, at the request of U.S. special operations forces, used this principle to develop an infrared laser that can identify enemy combatants from a distance by reading their cardiac signature, the MIT Technology Review reported Thursday, citing Pentagon officials.

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(U.S. Army National Guard/Sgt. Harley Jelis)

Suspected of pointing a laser at an Army National Guard helicopter on Wednesday night, Robert Simione, 72, of Mount Sinai, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for reckless endangerment, Suffolk County police said.

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(U.S. Army/C. Todd Lopez)
The Army says it will be able to field combat vehicle-mounted lasers and hypersonic missiles within the next four years to prepare for combat against rivals like Russia or China that may employ enemy drones or their own hypersonic weapons.
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