Navy to accelerate laser weapon development
The US Navy is accelerating efforts to incinerate drones, cruise missiles, aircraft, ships and other enemy targets with laser weapons fired from destroyers, cruisers and maybe even aircraft carriers.The cost factor makes these weapons a real winner. If they are used also in the missile defense arena the cost really drops.
While ship fired laser weapons have been in development for a while now, the effort is gaining momentum and focus as it appears to be nearer term than was previously thought possible. Advances in integrated mobile electrical power sources and higher-kilowatt laser weapons have sped up the developmental progress, bringing the raster prospect of high-heat, precision laser weapons to surface combatants.
"This system employs multi-spectral target detection and track capabilities as well as an advanced off-axis beam director with improved fiber laser technologies to provide extended target engagement ranges. Improvements of high power fiber lasers used to form the laser beam enable the increased power levels and extended range capabilities. Lessons learned, operating procedures, updated hardware and software derived from previous systems will be incorporated in this demonstration," a senior official with the Office of Naval Research, told Scout Warrior in a written statement a few months ago.
"For about the price of a gallon of diesel fuel per shot, we're offering the Navy a high-precision defensive approach that will protect not only its sailors, but also its wallet," said Guy Renard, director and program manager, directed energy, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
Meanwhile, the Navy has already deployed one laser system, called the Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, which has been operational for months.