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After successful testing last year, the Navy is preparing to deploy its first directed energy weapon to the fleet. When it puts to sea this summer, the afloat forward staging base ship USS Ponce will be equipped with the Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS).

LaWS is a system based on a design developed by the Navy Research Lab and engineers at the Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren. Its purpose is not to vaporize enemy ships but to provide a low-cost way for the Navy to defend against drones, small boats, light aircraft, and missiles at ranges of about a mile.

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