US army chiefs are to be handed a laser weapon that developers say will blast drones from the sky.
Weapon manufacturing giant Lockheed Martin says it has finished a 60-kilowatt laser system that will be handed to the Army for further testing.
First tests on the tank saw it reach 58 kilowatts of power but bosses at Lockheed believe it will fulfil its full potential in the next few months as development continues.
The “combined fibre” laser beam uses several lasers to form a larger, stronger beam.
Lockheed has been testing the new mega weapon, that experts believe will change the face of warfare, in Washington state.
Now it is expected to transport the tank to an army base in Alabama.
Robert Afzal, senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed Martin, said: “We’re really at the dawn of an era of the utility of laser weapons.”
He added that special vehicles “can now carry something which is small enough and powerful enough for what we believe will be militarily useful.”
Boeing has also been testing similar weapons and shared a video in 2014 of a 10-kilowatt laser destroying an airborne mortar.
Military experts are particularly excited about the developments because firing laser weapons will cost a fraction of the price of firing traditional weapons, be more accurate and will not require reloading.
Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, described a recent incident in which a US ally had used a multimillion-dollar Patriot missile to destroy a quad-copter similar to those easily bought in toy shops.
He told the Washington Post: “That’s $3 million to shoot down a three-or-four-hundred-dollar drone. . . . What if you could do that with a beam of light that costs a buck?”
The US army is already testing other laser weapons, however the latest Lockheed design is thought to be more powerful and portable.