One of the upcoming revolutions that are about to change the way we fight wars is the development of battlefield Laser Weapons. A recent article in suggests that the science fiction vision of soldiers fighting with beam weapons will very soon become a reality.

Lasers shooting down drones and other aerial targets

A relatively low-powered laser, putting out about five kilowatts, recently knocked an aerial drone out of the sky when fired from a Stryker armored vehicle. The military is concerned that terrorists will able to use cheap drones packed with explosives to destroy expensive American military equipment.

Lasers would be a way to counter such a threat.

More powerful lasers, from 30 kilowatts to soon become 60 kilowatts, that are capable of taking down mortar rounds and short-range missiles and artillery shells, are also being tested. One of the threats North Korea poses is the ability to level the South Korean capital of Seoul in a massive artillery barrage in the event of war. Laser defenses could help blunt such an attack while allied air strikes and counterbattery fire would work to suppress the North Korean artillery.

Airborne lasers also being developed

In the meantime, the Air Force is developing a laser that could be deployed on an AC-130 gunship, due to be tested in two to three years. Airborne lasers could strike at targets hundreds of miles away, giving American pilots an edge in air to air combat that would be tough to overcome.

These types of lasers could also be used as part of a layered missile defense system, stopping enemy ballistic missile attack.

Navy testing sea-based laser on board the USS Ponce

The United States Navy has been testing a laser on board the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport in the Persian Gulf. The Navy is keenly interested in using lasers to defend their ships against drones, missiles, and speed boats that could be used by terrorists to launch attacks such as the one that damaged the USS Cole.

Eventually, ship based lasers will be able to take out enemy aircraft.

The laser revolution bringing science fiction to reality

The laser revolution will, in its own way, change war fighting as profoundly as gunpowder weapons did start in the 15th Century. The ability to strike at a target at the speed of light, taking it out instantaneously will give the military that develops it first an overwhelming advantage that will be tough to overcome with defensive measures. The United States seems bent on gaining that advantage, much to the determent of its many enemies.