One day, the Navy swears, it'll have a massive laser aboard its ships to fry missiles out of the sky. That day is still years off. But a very excited Office of Naval Research reports that it's nine months ahead of schedule, thanks to what it calls a "remarkable breakthrough."
The Navy's Free Electron Laser program uses massively charged electron streams generated by an injector to focus light across multiple wavelengths, making it more powerful than most lasers. Turning it into a death ray requires at least 100 kilowatts worth of power. So far, the prototype Free Electron Laser that the Navy has can only generate 14.
But tests in December of a new injector yielded the electrons necessary to get the Free Electron Laser up to "megawatt class" beams, the Office of Naval Research said in a statement issued on 20 January, nine months ahead of schedule.
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