Tagged: Weapons

For the first time in its history, the U.S. Navy fired a laser ray gun mounted on a warship, zapping — and setting fire to — an empty motorboat as it bobbed in the Pacific Ocean.

Boat’s Motor set ablaze by Laser.

The test demonstration, which took place off the Southern California coast near San Nicholas Island, could mark a new era in Naval weaponry, officials said.

“This is very important to the Navy’s future weapon systems,” said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, chief of the Office of Naval Research. “By turning energy into a weapon, we become more efficient and more effective.”
Built by Northrop Grumman Corp. in Redondo Beach, the laser system could be used to blast apart incoming cruise missiles, zap enemy drones out of the sky or possibly even shoot down ballistic missiles one day, Carr said.

“In the distant future, I can envision a day when this technology is outfitted on cruisers and destroyers,” he said.

The success of this high-energy laser test is a credit to the collaboration, cooperation and teaming of naval labs at Dahlgren, China Lake, Port Hueneme and Point Mugu, Calif.,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr. “ONR coordinated each of their unique capabilities into one cohesive effort.”
The latest test occurred near San Nicholas Island, off the coast of Central California in the Pacific Ocean test range. The laser was mounted onto the deck of the Navy’s self-defense test ship, former USS Paul Foster (DD 964).

Carr also recognized the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s High Energy Joint Technology Office and the Army’s Joint High Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program for their work. MLD leverages the Army’s JHPSSL effort.

“This is the first time a HEL, at these power levels, has been put on a Navy ship, powered from that ship and used to defeat a target at-range in a maritime environment,” said Peter Morrison, program officer for ONR’s MLD.

In just slightly more than two-and-a-half years, the MLD has gone from contract award to demonstrating a Navy ship defensive capability, he said.

Additionally, the Navy accomplished several other benchmarks, including integrating MLD with a ship’s radar and navigation system and firing an electric laser weapon from a moving platform at-sea in a humid environment. Other tests of solid state lasers for the Navy have been conducted from land-based positions.
Having access to a HEL weapon will one day provide warfighter with options when encountering a small-boat threat, Morrison said.

But while April’s MLD test proves the ability to use a scalable laser to thwart small vessels at range, the technology will not replace traditional weapon systems, Carr added.

“From a science and technology point of view, the marriage of directed energy and kinetic energy weapon systems opens up a new level of deterrence into scalable options for the commander. This test provides an important data point as we move toward putting directed energy on warships. There is still much work to do to make sure it’s done safely and efficiently,” the admiral said.

Sources: LA Times, ONR