The £31million ($ 40m) Laser Weapons System (LaWS) is now operational on the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport ship commanded by Captain Christopher Wells.
Capt Wells told CNN: “It is more precise than a bullet.
“It’s not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military where it’s only good against air contacts, or it’s only good against surface targets, or it’s only good against, you know, ground-based targets – in this case this is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets.”
The weapon moves military technology into a new area with the beam travelling at the speed of light, some 50,000 times faster than an Intercontinental Ballistic missile (ICBM).
The laser weapons system officer Lt Cale Hughes said: “It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object.
“We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.”
In a test firing of the new weapon a drone was launched which was swiftly disabled.
Lt Hughes said: “We don’t have to lead a target. We’re doing that engagement at the speed of light so it really is a point and shoot — we see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target.”
He added: “It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does.”
While the entire system cost a multi-million figure it is estimated that to actually fire the weapon it costs about a dollar each time as no ammunition is need, just a crew of three people and a supply of electricity which is created by the system’s own built-in generator.
The system currently is designed to primarily take out aircraft and small boats but it is understood the US Navy is developing a more advanced second-generation system which could the targeted at missiles.
Moscow-based military expert Boris Rozhin, an analyst at the Centre for Military and Political Journalism, believed the high profile test firing was meant as a warning signal to the likes of Iran.
Mr Rozhin said: “The test was also a sort of a warning signal to Iran which is perceived by America’s allies in the region as a security threat.
“Such tests are meant to show America’s technological edge over Iran’s missile and future weapons capability.”
The new laser system could have some limitations in its effectiveness, according to Alexei Leonov, a military expert and commercial director of Arsenal Otechestva.
He said: “What they demonstrated in the Persian Gulf was shooting down a drone made of plastic.
“At a certain distance a laser beam can be effective against plastic surfaces. The laser was fired from a ship because it needs a powerful, 350-450 kilowatt source of energy, which is bulky, that’s why it is installed on ships.
“The longer the distance to target, the weaker the laser beam becomes, and at long distances it becomes useless altogether.”