8805018876 841b967f06 k The Pentagon just threw $17 million at laser technology

Pfc. Sebastian Rodriguez, machine gunner, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, fires an M240 machine gun during a night squad-attack exercise, here, May 22. (Sgt. Sarah Fiocco/U.S. Marine Corps)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  — The U.S. Defense Department is investing $17 million in high-powered laser technology that has the potential for practical uses on the battlefield, from destroying enemy drones to disrupting communication systems.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich announced the funding during a news conference Wednesday at a Boeing lab in Albuquerque, where many of the innovations needed to track targets and control the intensity of the high-powered lasers were developed.

A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the New Mexico Democrat said the biggest challenge has been getting colleagues in Congress and others to realize that the lasers are no longer science fiction but rather critical tools that the U.S. military can use in difficult situations.

He says the laser weapons systems are small and portable and would be more economic for the military to operate.

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