The US successfully tested a laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight

Hong Kong (CNN)A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement Friday.

Images and videos provided by the Navy show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland executing “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser” to disable an aerial drone aircraft, the statement said.

The images show the laser emanating from the deck of the warship. Short video clips show what appears to be the drone burning.

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Drone swarms use nets to catch other drones in flight

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Sandia National Laboratories researchers leading the MARCUS project are working to develop a system that addresses current and future national security threats posed by small unmanned aircraft systems

Robotics engineers from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) are developing drones that can capture hostile drones in flight. Funded by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, the Mobile Adaptive/Reactive Counter Unmanned System (MARCUS) project uses swarms of four unmanned quad-copters working in concert to intercept a drone and catch it in a net.

As drones become more numerous and more sophisticated, they also pose a growing threat. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are now a major component of the world’s major militaries but drones are also showing up in terrorist attacks, invasions of privacy, or acts of mischief at airports that could down an aircraft.

There have been a number of anti-drone systems developed over the years, including jammers, lasers, and even eagles trained to bring them down, but MARCUS aims to not only counter the threat of small UAVs but also to capture them for disposal or information gathering. According to SNL, this isn’t the first system to use nets but it is the first to combine nets with teams of drones controlled by a ground-based computer to coordinate the swarm’s course to ensure interception.

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Shooting drones out of the sky with Phasers

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Abqaiq has the world’s largest oil processing plant

When a mixed formation of cruise missiles and small drone aircraft rained explosive charges on the Saudi Arabian state oil group Aramco sites at Abqaiq and Khurais on 14 September they halved national oil output, cutting 5.7 million barrels of crude per day from the company’s production.

But they did more than economic damage. This attack has had a huge impact on how nations think about protecting their airspace.

Companies are now developing and deploying sophisticated new defences, from frying the electronic circuits with powerful beams of microwave radiation, to precise jamming systems.

While both the United States and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for the Abqaiq attack, it’s still not clear who was behind it.

But it would be a mistake to confuse the use of drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in this attack with other incidents where off-the-shelf drones have disrupted airports, football matches or political rallies, says Douglas Barrie, an air power fellow at think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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