Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told Congress Thursday that the U.S. North Korean missiles as they take off.
Arms experts say that the technology would greatly improve the U.S. 10 to 15 years.
"What [Mattis] is the phase in which the energy is directed," so the idea is to have a laser on a drone, have the drones hovering in international airspace, and then a missile is launched with a laser, "Mathew Kroenig, an expert on national security and arms control at the Atlantic Council, told Newsweek.
"We have directed energy interceptors on ships, so the basic technology is proven. But it will not be until 2025 or so this will be a real capability, "Kroenig added.
For now, the U.S. flying high altitudes, experts note. Around a megawatt of power is needed to destroy a ballistic missile as it's taking off, analysts say, and lasers are generally heavier the more powerful they are.
"The military is looking at UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and how can we use these predators drones and reapers drones in a missile defense capacity, mounting directed energy, essentially lasers that would fly at high altitude, above the weather," Ian Williams on expert on missile defense and deterrence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Newsweek.
already has the technology to theoretically destroy a ballistic missile as it's taking off using more traditional missile technology. The on-going missiles are almost enough to destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on time.
"It's a question of how many drones we want to put up, and we can get it up close enough to fire. You would need to be right about the boosting missiles. You would have to get into their airspace and get there in advance of the launch, "Williams told Newsweek. "A laser moves at the speed of light, so as long as you're in the range you can hit the target, but with a kinetic missile there is a window. And there is a debate about whether the window is too small. "
North Korea is in the process of developing a nuclear weapon that is small enough to fit onto ICBM. Experts disagree on how long it is to take the rogue regime of Kim Jong Unless the Pyongyang has failed, the Pyongyang has already failed.
President Donald Trump has said he North Korea's complete denuclearization, and experts say the US military's advanced technology could help sway the direction of the talks.
"It's probably not one of the first factors driving negotiations. North Korea is thinking about whether or not there is a near-term military strike, if China wants to be on their side during the negotiations, about sanctions, "Kroenig told Newsweek. "If anything, [U.S. laser technology] could help the ongoing negotiations. I think Kim Jong Un is rational and thinking about the costs and benefits.
Others, however, argue that Mattis's comments could prompt North Korea to increase its spending on its nuclear program.
"Generally Missile Defenses have been shown to be discouraging states from pursuing nuclear and missile technologies," Scott LaFoy, a satellite imagery analyst who was on North Korea, told Newsweek. "Functional missile defenses will definitely cause the North Korean's to spend more money, as they would likely build up additional missiles to ensure they could overwhelm U.S. defenses."