Currently, the free-electron laser project produces the most-powerful beam in the world, able to cut through 20 feet of steel per second. If it gets up to its ultimate goal, of generating a megawatt's worth of laser power, it'll be able to burn through 2,000 feet of steel per second.
Directed Energy Weapons - DEW
FEL - Free Electron Laser, death ray beam of the future
1 megawatt's worth of laser power will be able to burn through 2,000 feet of steel per second.
Burn incoming missiles out of the sky or zap through an enemy vessel's hull.
We're fast approaching the limits of our ability to hit manoeuvring pieces of metal in the sky with other maneuvering pieces of metal," says Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, the Navy's chief of research.
The next level: "fighting at the speed of light and hypersonics" -- that is, the free-electron laser and the Navy's Mach-8 electromagnetic rail gun.