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US Navy shows off high-energy LASER WEAPON and shoots down a drone during its first ever at-sea test

The US Navy showed off a highly anticipated advanced laser weapon system by downing a drone during its first ever at-sea test last week. 

On Friday, the US Pacific Fleet revealed the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) in a short video clip. 

The LWSD sits atop the USS Portland, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship that's currently stationed near Hawaii's Pearl Harbor.  

The US Navy's Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) underwent its first ever at-sea test on May 16 

In footage taken on May 16, the USS Portland is out at sea when the LWSD is fired at an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that's in mid-flight. 

The high-energy laser zeroes in on the drone and quickly sets off what appears to be a small fire. 

Smoke begins to billow out of the damaged drone as it helplessly tumbles out of the air. 

'By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,' Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland, said in a statement.  

The LWSD, attached atop the USS Portland, shot down a drone mid-flight during what appeared to be a successful test 

The drone (pictured) was hit by the laser and appeared to catch on fire before it fell out of the sky 

In addition to shooting down drones and small boats, the LWSD is a 'dazzler' that can blind enemy sensors while taking surveillance with integrated video cameras

'The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons system.

'With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.'

The laser was developed by Northrup Grumman, an aerospace and defense company, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.  

The LWSD was first deployed to the USS Portland in 2019 after the US Navy announced the ambitious feat in 2018.  

RT reports that the contract to produce the weapon with Northrop Group was worth $53million, with a total budget of $91million granted to the project over nearly three years of development.   

LWSD is an upgrade to the previous Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which was the military's first completely approved laser platform. 

The LaWS was initially used by interim floating ship USS Ponce between 20114 and 2017 to better understand how the system could perform in operations. 

The USS Portland (pictured), currently docked near Pearl Harbor, is the only warship outfitted with the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator

Operating at 150 kilowatts, the LWSD is the Navy's strongest laser weapon and is around five times stronger than the LaWS, which has the ability to shoot down a small aircraft.

In addition to LWSD's ability to take down small boats and drones, it can also function as a 'dazzler,' so it can blind enemy sensors while integrated video cameras can simultaneously conduct surveillance. 

The USS Portland is currently the only warship outfitted with the LWSD, but arms contractor Lockhead Martin is developing a similar 150-kilowatt laser. 

Navy officials said that it could start testing later this year on the combat ship USS Little Rock, but a date has not been set yet.

The US Navy is also developing a medium-strength laser, High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS), that is prepared to reach 60 kilowatts and could be placed on a larger variety of ships, like destroyers.  

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