SAN DIEGO - For the first time ever, a directed energy weapon will be deployed onboard a U.S. Navy ship.
The Navy has been testing a laser weapon system which when tested, effectively tracked and shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Now, the system will be aboard the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf.
The system was designed to target small boats used by smugglers or pirates as well as aerial platforms.
"The cost of a missile can be a million dollars. Here, just one pulse of the laser costs roughly one U.S. dollar, even less," said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, who is with the Office of Naval Research.
The other factor is that it can be operated by a single sailor.
Another futuristic weapon is the electromagnetic rail gun.
"It uses an electric pulse, around 10,000 volts, to fire a projectile. As long as there is electrical power, the gun can be fired repeatedly," said Capt. Mike Ziv, who is with Naval Sea Systems Command.
The rail gun can fire a projectile from zero to 5,000 mph in one-hundredth of a second.
Ziv said it is strong enough to propel a projectile 100 nautical miles. The new Zumwalt class of destroyer is capable of generating enough power to use it. Unlike the laser system, which will be deployed this summer, prototypes of the rail gun are still in the development and testing stage.