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 3:21:29 PM
The laser, or at least this laser, is still going to be the last line of defense designed to replace/supplement the Phalanx/RIM-116 CIWS. Its range is too short to be the long range defense, and its dwell time is too long to take out a large swarm of missiles. The Phalanx/RIM-116 will likely continue to exist on the ships for a time for boat/helicopter/jet interdiction, as the laser would likely take too long to bring them to a halt.
I just hope that they use the same philosophy they used with designing the Phalanx/SeaRAM, where the CIWS system is totally contained, and does not external information to engage targets. This means if your ship takes damage, as long as your CIWS still has power(and hasn't been hit itself), it will keep firing, regardless of what has been crippled by the hits.
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