Unmanned flying drone flies across a farm
The laser will be used to attack enemy dronesGetty Images

A laser weapon capable of shooting down drones which can be mounted on military vehicles such as Humvees, is to be created by the US Navy.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) said it had awarded contracts for the design of a lightweight laser missile aimed at protecting troops from drone attacks, dubbed Ground-Based Air Defence Directed Energy On-the-Move programme, otherwise known as GBAD.

"We're confident we can bring together all of these pieces in a package that's small enough to be carried on light tactical vehicles and powerful enough to counter these threats," said Brigadier General Kevin Killea, vice chief of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

Colonel William Zamagni said the GBAD is necessary to combat enemies' increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in conflicts.

"We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use UAVs and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat.

"GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad other possibilities for future expeditionary forces."

Lee Mastroianni, programme manager for Force Protection in ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, said new weapons such as the GBAD are necessary to for the marines "to be fast and lethal".

"Aggressive action against air threats is needed for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to conduct expeditionary manoeuvre. Everything about this programme is geared toward realising a viable directed-energy capability in support of that objective to allow our Marines to be fast and lethal."

All the pieces for the system are being developed under ONR's Future Naval Capabilities programme.