So far the U.S Army has never used lasers in combat but it now has a new target, drones!

For the first time last week, soldiers used a vehicle-mounted laser to successfully shoot down drones and incoming mortar shells. Terry Bauer, who is the program manager for the weapon named High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, said that this new gun is not likely to be ready for combat until at least 2017.

Military Laser Experiment

This laser, which is cost-effective and more efficient, was built out of necessity for use in bases located in Iraq and Afghanistan, where soldiers are often under attack by rockets, mortars and other airborne weapons.

Designed by Boeing, the laser was created to be a beam that shoots from its turret and strikes incoming drones and other airborne weapons. Once the laser has hit the target, it then dissolves the device.

Tests carried out at the missile range in New Mexico proved how effective this laser can be, where over 23 days it incinerated 90 mortars and several drones.

Terry Bauer said of the tests, “Our first attempt to shoot down a UAV, it disabled it, and brought it down very quickly. We were very happy with the system’s performance.”

The advantage of this system is that lasers are a lot less expensive than conventional weapons. It removes the need for trucks to deliver mortars to the various bases, solving some the Army’s logistical problems.

“We’ve got to keep the vehicle fueled up, and that’s it,” Bauer said. “There’s no missile logistic trail that has to be brought with you.”

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]