The U.S. Navy is apparently just two years away from an active laser arsenal.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, the chief of Naval research, told Wired.com's Danger Room that “directed energy”—the Navy’s term for lasers—is now past the physics stage and is in the process of being integrated into the fleet.
The biggest remaining challenge is power—specifically, making sure that ship captains won’t have to choose between maneuvering their vessels and firing their weapons. But Klunder believes his team has solved the issue and now can focus on making the lasers compatible with specific ships.
Laser weapons have reportedly been used to take down drones in tests. Klunder declined to give specifics, but he said the weapons have had “very successful” tests—though we imagine that really depends on which end of the laser beam you’re facing.
Clarrification, Oct. 24, 2012: This post originally failed to credit Wired.com for the comments made by Rear Admiral Klunder and for one of the images used in the video.