U.S. Navy's Prototype Laser Weapon to Begin Shipboard Testing in Late Summer
April 8, 2014 8:42 AM
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Laser weapon will be the first to be deployed on a ship
The U.S. Navy has announced that it will deploy a prototype laser weapon aboard a Navy ship later this summer. The announcement is confirmation of the Navy's plans that were announced almost exactly a year ago today. In April of 2013, the
Navy promised that it would be ready for shipboard testing
of laser weapons by this summer.
The prototype laser that will be deployed is an improved version of the Laser Weapon System known as LaWS. The laser will be installed on the USS Ponce for at-sea testing in the Persian Gulf.
“This is a revolutionary capability,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. “It’s absolutely critical that we get this out to sea with our sailors for these trials, because this very affordable technology is going to change the way we fight and save lives.”
A 2012 test of LaWS against a UAV
Navy officials say that the laser weapon is a top priority to counter asymmetric threats like unmanned and light aircraft as well as small attack boats. The major benefits of laser weapons include that they have an “unlimited” magazine and attacks at the speed of light.
“Our nation’s adversaries are pursuing a variety of ways to try and restrict our freedom to operate,” Klunder said. “Spending about $1 per shot of a directed-energy source that never runs out gives us an alternative to firing costly munitions at inexpensive threats.”
Sailors control the laser system using a game-like controller to target a range of threats and control whether the treat is disabled or destroyed. The Navy currently has three prototypes and will determine which of the three is most suitable to move forward next year.
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RE: the goal
4/8/2014 12:52:43 PM
Carriers don't really need additional defenses against missile swarms--everything that can float these days is being packed with VLS silos and the Navy really doesn't need more missile ships. A massed missile attack against a carrier would not be an effective strategy as AEGIS is more than capable of handling this sort of attack and even a massed attack from a half dozen SSGNs would only result in several sunk submarines. A MUCH more serious threat to Carriers is torpedoes as it only takes a couple to cripple or sink a carrier outright and the defenses against such a threat aren't nearly as capable.
Lasers really aren't a solution for better missile defense despite what the Navy might be intimating--they already have excellent solutions for that. They are solutions for asymmetric threats for now...in the future maybe they will get an expanded role but for now their utility is pretty limited.
RE: the goal
4/9/2014 1:22:59 PM
No one said they didn't have a plethora of options. Laser are a promising cost-effective option. And yes, they are relevant in anti-missile scenarios. That's all.
RE: the goal
4/9/2014 3:25:58 PM
They might--in the future--also be useful against swarm tactics, the kind that Iran likes to use (a bunch of small boats used en masse. Lasers would be able to target and destroy/disable these much faster than conventional targeting means.
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