US Navy is Set Deploy its First Laser Weapon
Kyle Maxey posted on March 12, 2014 | 15811 views

navy, laser, weapon, UAV, ship, missile, defenseAfter years of development and successful live fire tests earlier this year, the US Navy is preparing to launch its first laser weapons system into active duty.

Called the Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS), the direct energy weapon was developed by the Navy Research Lab, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NSSC) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center to be a low cost method of defending against drones, small boats and missiles within a 1-mile radius.

Unlike larger laser systems that have the power to vaporize targets, the LaWS system will be used to blur the vision of UAVs and missiles and throw them off a ship’s tracks.  Although primarily a countermeasure, the LaWS does pack enough of a punch to do some real damage to small boats and drones, igniting outboard fuel reserves and, in one demonstration, setting a stealth drone’s airframe alight.

In an interview with the Department of Defense’s blog (yup, that’s a thing), Navy Captain and NSSC direct energy weapons project manager Mike Ziv noted that, while the LaWS is being deployed aboard a ship, the system is still in its infancy.

“What we really want to achieve is to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this system is ready to be operated in theatre, operated by our sailors, and ready to transition to be in broader use throughout the fleets.  And I think we’re on track to get that done.”

With its first patrols scheduled for the summer of 2014 aboard the newly revamped USS Ponce, the LaWS system represents the US Navy’s first attempt at fielding a high-energy laser weapon. In the future, ships with greater electrical capacity will likely be home to even more powerful direct energy weapons, possibly even those capable of downing planes, missiles and even satellites.

Image Courtesy of the US Navy

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