The US Army has fielded its first combat-capable laser weapon prototype. Developed in only 24 months, the solid-state Directed Energy-Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) laser was mounted on a Stryker combat vehicle and participated at a combat shoot-off at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as an Army maneuver element for the first time.
With their practically unlimited ammunition costing about a dollar a round combined with the ability to strike distant targets at the speed of light, laser weapons are a very attractive option for war planners. However, don't expect to see soldiers marching across battlefields with ray guns unless the laws of physics get repealed. Instead, the US Army and others are looking to lasers that can be mounted on mobile platforms to act as stand-off defenses against threats like drones, rockets, artillery, and mortars.
Prototype laser weapons are already in service with the US Navy and now the weapon systems and power supplies have shrunk to the point where combat prototypes can be installed in ground vehicles like the Stryker.