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U.S. Navy rolls out laser cannon; rail gun coming soon

The U.S. Navy announced Monday it's ready to launch a warship armed with a laser cannon. We might not have hoverboards, but finally, we can say the future is here.

The solid-state Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, will be deployed on the USS Ponce this spring. The project took six years to complete and cost $40 million. (Via U.S. Navy / John F. Williams)

The Navy tested LaWS last spring, successfully shooting down a drone mid-flight. The system is designed to target "asymmetrical threats" to warships, such as speedboats and drones.

At the time, Wired noted the USS Ponce will be stationed near the Persian Gulf, making LaWS the perfect weapon to bring along. "It just so happens that the LaWS’ ability to track and kill surveillance drones and swarming fast boats matches with Iran’s development of surveillance drones and swarming fast-boat tactics."

>> Read more trending stories

So aside from it just being objectively awesome, what's the point of arming Navy vessels with lasers?

The main advantage of laser technology is cost. LaWS costs about a dollar per round to shoot. One Navy officer told The Maritime Executive, "Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability."

But as RT notes, there are drawbacks. "Lasers typically become much less effective when the weather turns sour, meaning that rain or dust storms could severely shorten their range."

Luckily, the Navy's not short on terrifying future weapons to keep the LaWS company. This supersonic electromagnetic rail gun prototype could be ready for testing aboard a vessel in two years time.

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  • Responding to concerns about personal security for lawmakers after last week’s gun attack at a Congressional baseball practice, U.S. House leaders are moving to provide extra money to members for protection back home, as well as new funding to bolster the work of police and security officials on Capitol Hill. Under a plan approved by a House spending subcommittee on Friday, the Congress would provide an extra $7.5 million next year to the Capitol Police for an “increased security posture” around the Capitol, along with $5 million to the House Sergeant at Arms to help with security for lawmakers back in their districts. “We are taking a new fresh look at security,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the Chairman of subcommittee that deals with funding for the Legislative Branch. Our FY18 Legislative Branch funding bill increases efficiency & transparency in Congress, enhances security for Members & our constituents. pic.twitter.com/FI36tF2XeH — Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) June 22, 2017 “The tragic events of June 14 weigh heavily on these deliberations,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which could vote on the extra money as early as this next week. Also being put into motion is a separate plan to funnel an extra $25,000 to each member of the House – about $11 million in all – to help them increase security back in their districts. “The scariest part for us is there used to be this impression by the public that we all had security everywhere we went,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). “Now, everyone knows that isn’t the case,” Ryan added, as he lent his support to the extra funding for security as well. The money in this budget bill would not take effect until the new fiscal year – which starts October 1 – so, House leaders are ready to okay extra money immediately for members worried about security back in their districts. Roll Call newspaper reported that could be approved in coming days by the House Administration Committee. Yoder said Congressional leaders are also waiting to see if money raised in campaign contributions for House elections could be put to use for security as well. “Pending an FEC (Federal Election Commission) decision, we’re also looking at whether campaign funds could be used to continue to support security upgrades at personal residences,” Yoder added.
  • An unknown aged girl went to the hospital with burns to her legs, following an overnight house fire. KRMG’s told the fire started around 2:40 a.m., at a residence on West 50th Court North. The homeowner says he was able to get his daughter, grand daughter and sleeping brother out of the house. So far, firefighters haven't released a cause for the fire.  The homeowner believes fumes from a gas can in the garage may have cause the blaze.   
  • Multiple people had to be rescued early Saturday morning in Rogers County. OTEMS paramedics report a boat started to sink on Oologah Lake just after midnight. “Additional information was received that the boat had its nose in the air, four individuals were in the water, and only one was wearing a PDF (personal flotation device),” an official said. “A Rogers County Deputy spotted what might be the boat south of Winganon Bridge but was unable to determine the precise location. However it was located by the Northwest Water Rescue unit and at 0048 hours the rescue boat reported that it had located the victims and was loading the fourth individual into the boat.” KRMG’s told the victims were hanging onto the hull when they were found. So far, no injuries have been reported.  Officials also haven’t released any names.   We do know the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has taken over the investigation.  
  • Tulsa investigators are looking for a driver who fled the scene, after hitting a male pedestrian late Friday night. Police report the auto-pedestrian collision happened around 11:34 p.m., near East Admiral and North Yale. “The pedestrian victim has been declared deceased at this time,” police said.   Investigators don't have a description of the driver or the car.  Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.
  • We know this might start an argument, but according to Business Insider, Oklahoma's most famous band EVER is the Flaming Lips. Business Insider admits the song 'She Don't Use Jelly' is the Norman-based indie rockers only U.S. hit. But they say the band has had many hits in the U.K. and Europe and, even more impressive, three Grammys to their credit. Some on the list are hard to argue with, like Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band in New Jersey or Nirvana in Washington State. You can see the entire list of the most famous bands here.