"It's working, and it's working beyond our expectations," said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, head of the Office of Naval Research.
Klunder said the laser, known as LaWS for Laser Weapon System, has worked well in high humidity and in heavy sea states -- key challenges for a shipboard laser -- against small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, all for about 59 cents per shot.
"Any of you who can use X-Box or PS4, you can do this," he said in a Dec. 10 roundtable with reporters. "It's that simple."
The laser can be scaled up from simply dazzling a target, to disabling or destroying a target with its 30 kilowatt blast, Klunder said, a unique capability allowing operators to easily step up the level of force from warning shot to destructive intercept.
The Navy is also looking to mount lasers on air frames and in ground installations as well.
The laser has also given the Navy a boost on the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance front because of a powerful telescope incorporated in LaWS.
"If we're in some horrendous sandstorm, most of the threats aren't going to be very operational either," Fuller said.
Klunder said the weapon hasn't been tested in those conditions to date because it didn't make much sense to do so.
The prototype LaWS on Ponce cost about $40 million to develop and install, Klunder said.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News. Before that, he reported for Navy Times.