U.S. Navy's New Laser Could Put Pressure On Pirates - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

U.S. Navy's New Laser Could Put Pressure On Pirates

AIROBI, Kenya - A ship-based laser tested by the U.S. Navy's research arm could put the heat on Somali pirates.

The Navy for the first time last week successfully tested a solid-state high-energy laser from a ship. The beam, which was aimed at a boat moving through turbulent Pacific Ocean waters, set the target's engine on fire.

The Office of Naval Research says the laser traveled over "miles, not yards." For now, the test is a proof of concept, and it's not yet known when it might be deployed as a weapon.

The baseball-sized laser beam, though, could be used to stop small crafts from approaching naval ships. It could also target pirates.

"You can use the laser to ward off an attack, or you can dial it down to a non-lethal level where it basically becomes a very bright light so they know they are being targeted," Michael Deitchman, the director of air warfare and weapons at the Office of Naval Research, said Wednesday.

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