US Navy to deploy ship-mounted laser in 2014, blasts drones in the meantime (video)

Lasers have been flaunted by the US Navy before, but now it's announced that 2014 will see the very first solid-state laser deployed aboard a ship, two years ahead of schedule. The USS Ponce, a vessel used as an amphibious transport dock stationed in the Persian Gulf, will get the honor of hosting the prototype Laser Weapon System (LaWS). Not only can the hardware set boats and airborne drones ablaze, but it can also emit a burst to "dazzle" an opponent's sensors without inflicting physical harm. Sure, it cost roughly $32 million to construct, but the price is expected to fall when it hits wider production, and Chief of Naval Research Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder estimates that it each shot rings up at under $1. It may not be the missile-obliterating free-electron laser that the Navy's been lusting for, but we're sure it doesn't matter much to drones at the end of the beam. Hit the jump to for a video of the contraption in action.