US Navy laser gun: Real life Star Wars

It's official - we have arrived at the future. Laser beams are being used to shoot down aircraft. It's Star Wars but real. Although Star Wars was technically set in the past - but you know what we mean.

The good news is that although four aircraft have been shot down with the new tech, nobody has been hurt (yet) - it was all part of a training exercise using unmanned drones at a US Navy test range off the coast of California.

The Laser Close-In Weapons System is mounted on a warship and can fire its lasers over 2 miles. It was able to shoot down one drone that was travelling in excess of 300mph. It's hardly light-speed we know, but unless we find ourselves at war with a highly developed alien race it should be enough.

The lasers are invisible until they strike, which we are a little disappointed with it has to be said. Laser guns should really have green or red laser "bullets".

The tests were carried out in May and were a joint operation between the US Navy and Raytheon Missile Systems.

"This is more real than Star Wars", said Mike Booen, president of directed energy weapons at Raytheon. 

"This is the first successful shoot down over water. We are now on path to deliver the first battlefield lasers integrated into real weapons systems".

In the past laser weaponry has failed because of various reasons; ranging from damp weather to reflective surfaces causing problems. Raytheon says that it is dealing with these problems though.

Peter Felstead, the editor of Jane's Defence Weekly predicted that the laser weapon could be deployed within modern warfare.

"Airbases in Afghanistan, the Green Zone in Baghdad or the border with Gaza and Israel could all potentially use something like this", he said.

Check out the video below, which is pretty poor quality but shows the Close-In Weapons System in action: