ARLINGTON, Va. (CBSDC) — Expect to see the Navy using lasers on ships within the next couple of years.

Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of the Office of Naval Research, tells Wired that they have pushed up the timetable from four years to two to install laser weapons on board ships.

“We’re well past physics,” Klunder told the magazine. “We’re just going through the integration efforts. Hopefully, that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships.”

Klunder added that tests have been “very successful,” telling Wired that lasers were recently able to shoot down drones.

On top of lasers, the Office of Naval Research is also working on drone subs that they hope can go underwater for 60 days at a time.

“The propulsion systems that I think you’re going to see within a year are going to [give] a (unmanned underwater vehicle) with over 30 days of endurance,” Klunder explained to the magazine. That’s ahead of schedule of what we told the secretary of the Navy a year ago.”

A prototype of the drone sub is expected to be ready by 2016.

Monday night’s presidential debate saw the two candidates spar over military spending as Republican challenger Mitt Romney went after President Obama for cutting the defense budget and saying that he would boost the number of naval ships because the U.S. fleet is the smallest since 1917. Obama, on the other hand, accused Romney of calling for increases in military spending that the Pentagon doesn’t want.

“I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them,” Obama said in a mocking tone.

Romney said he would pay for increases in military spending by getting rid of Obama’s health care overhaul and other programs he deems unnecessary.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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