The U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday, Dec. 15, that it successfully tested a laser weapon that completely destroyed an unmanned floating target in the Middle East. The new technology may be used to counter a large number of drones and boats deployed by terrorists that threaten the region’s security.

As reported by NewsMax, the USS Portland conducted a test firing with its revolutionary laser weapons system against the target in the Gulf of Aden, the body of water that separates East Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.

The fleet indicated in a statement posted on its website that the “USS Portland,” an amphibious transport ship, “conducted a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration, Dec. 14, while sailing in the Gulf of Aden.”

The statement confirmed that a “static training object” was destroyed during the test and recalled that the “USS Portland” already conducted a similar test in May 2020, when it destroyed a drone as part of its operations in the Pacific Ocean.

USS Portland is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, including the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). Also, many Marines embarked since August 2021, when they departed from San Diego and began operating in the Fifth Fleet region.

The Gulf of Aden has seen a spike in tensions since the outbreak of the war in Yemen and has seen several different incidents in the wake of the war, leading Saudi Arabia to accuse the Huthis of attempting to harm freedom of navigation in the area. 

The war in Yemen pits the internationally recognized government, led by President Abdo Rabbu Mansur Hadi and supported by an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which has imposed a blockade on the country for years, against the Iranian-backed Huthis.

Despite the international community’s intervention, including the United States, the conflict has escalated on several fronts in recent months, causing one of the most significant humanitarian crises in the contemporary world.

In May 2021, the U.S. military announced that it would begin testing a prototype laser weapon to locate, jam, track, and destroy aerial threats in just a few seconds.

“Twenty-three months ago, this was just an idea,” Gen. Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff of the Army, told Stars and Stripes. “It’s very promising. It’s very powerful. There’s a lot of things we have to do in terms of testing, and we’re about to go through a firefight to see how it works.”

Now the advancement in the use of these technologies could mean they are ready for use in actual conflicts is confirmed.

Although laser weapons once belonged exclusively to the realm of science fiction, the Pentagon has been betting heavily on them. It promises to prove that they will be a fundamental technology on the battlefield.

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