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With a laser operating on about 30 kilowatts of electricity — and possibly three times that in the future — the cost amounts to a few dollars per shot, Thompson said.
The "Star Wars" analogy isn't a bad one.
Just like in the movies, the Navy's laser directs a beam of energy that can burn through a target or fry sensitive electronics. Unlike the movie, the laser beam is invisible to the human eye.
The targeting system locks onto the target, sending a beam of searing heat. "You see the effect on what you are targeting but you don't see the actual beam," Ziv said.
Other nations are developing their own lasers, but the Navy is more advanced at this point.
Most folks are stunned to learn the technology is ready for deployment, Ziv said.
"It's fair to say that there are other countries working on this technology. That's safe to say. But I would also say that a lot of what makes this successful came from the way in which we consolidated all of the complexity into something that can be operated by (a single sailor)," he said.