According to reports, an Israeli Patriot missile shot down a Hamas drone. If the report is accurate, consider the cost effectiveness of the engagement. A $3M missile was used to shoot down a drone costing a few thousands of dollars. No one knows the exact drone type but it was unlikely to have been too sophisticated. This is not exactly an economical exchange rate.
The Navy has been pursuing laser weapons and possibly in a realistic manner. While Navy laser development news is hard to come by, it appears that the Navy laser development is aimed not at Star Wars type technology but at a much more realistic and scaled back goal. Reports suggest that the Navy is looking for a laser weapon that can engage small, slow objects such as mortar shells, small boats, and drones. It is the latter goal, targeting drones, that offers a reasonable and effective use of a laser.
As noted with the Israeli example cited above, shooting down cheap drones with expensive missiles is a waste. A laser would offer a much more cost effective solution and presents a technical challenge that may well be achievable in a reasonable time frame. Of course, power and effective range are among the technical obstacles that remain to be overcome. Still, that level of performance may well be realistically achievable.
military is firmly committed to operating drones of all types over the battlefield and there is no reason to expect that our enemies won’t do the same. We need a cost effective method for dealing with them. If this type of use is the goal of the Navy’s laser program then they deserve praise. US
To be fair, I have no explicit confirmation of the Navy’s goals for its laser program. I’m ascribing a goal based on bits of information rather then hard documentation. I’ll continue to look for confirmation. For those of you who are interested in more information, CSBA put out an excellent report on the subject (1).
(1) Center For Strategic And Budgetary Assessments, “Changing The Game, The Promise of Directed Energy Weapons”, Gunzinger and Dougherty, 2012