The U.S. Navy is preparing to deploy its first laser weapon on a warship this year.
The new weapon is designed to destroy and disable such threats as surveillance drones and speed boats. The laser can be operated by one sailor, and can be fired continuously, making it far cheaper than conventional missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.
The laser will be installed on the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport docking ship that will be deployed to the Persian Gulf.
Another electric weapon the U.S. Navy is building is a rail gun that can either replace or supplement conventional guns, since it can fire a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound.
But there are shortcomings with both new weapons. The laser is less efficient if there is heavy rain, dust or a turbulence in the atmosphere, while the rail gun requires a huge amount of electricity to launch its projectiles.