The men and women protecting America have a new weapon in their arsenal, as shown by a recent Navy weapons test.
On May 16, the Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland destroyed a target drone, according to a Navy news release.
The LWSD is “a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on Portland for an at-sea demonstration.”
According to the Navy, the use of the weapon on the ship “is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser.”
The Navy did not reveal where the test was conducted other than that it was in the Pacific Ocean.
A video of the test posted on YouTube shows the brilliant light of the laser and the target being destroyed.
“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” Portland commanding officer Capt. Karrey Sanders said.
“The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems,” he added.
“With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”
The laser weapon was developed by Northrup Grumman.
“Without a laser, U.S. warships might have to empty a magazine of anti-ballistic missiles to counter incoming waves of Chinese weapons, forcing a destroyer to rely on its gun or remove itself from the fight to reload its vertical launching system. Defensive lasers would allow ships to save their missile tubes for offense,” the outlet reported.
“You can save your missiles for longer-range issues, where you have to have the (defensive) missile or an offensive capability,” defense consultant Eric Wertheim said.
“Directed energy has the ability to completely alter the way that navies fight,” he added.
The Congressional Research Service reported that the lasers “will provide a new capability to the Fleet to address known capability gaps against asymmetric threats (UAS, small boats, and ISR sensors) and will inform future acquisition strategies, system designs, integration architectures, and fielding plans for laser weapon systems.”
“Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy — solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP) — could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs),” the report read.
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