Navy's Ship-Mounted Laser Defends against Drones
Byline: Shaun Waterman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Navy next year will deploy a ship-mounted laser that can shoot down drones and planes, and disable small vessels, officials said Monday at the service's annual Air-Sea-Space Expo, touting the futuristic weapon as a cost-saving measure.
Our directed-energy initiatives, and specifically the solid-state laser, are among our highest priority science and technology programs, said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, according to the Navy News Service.
Adm. Klunder said a laser shot costs less than a dollar, compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are expended when a single missile is fired Au making a more cost-effective defense against low-tech or so-called asymmetric attacks, such as from drones or small boats sailed by suicide bombers.
This capability provides a tremendously affordable answer to the costly problem of defending against asymmetric threats, and that kind of innovative approach is crucial in a fiscally constrained environment, the admiral said.
The Laser Weapons System will be deployed in summer 2014 aboard the USS Ponce, a converted amphibious transport and docking ship, in the Persian Gulf. The Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, patrols the Gulf and the Horn of Africa.
U.S. war games have shown how small, fast Iranian attack boats, like those operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' navy, would be effective against larger, slower and more expensive U.S. naval vessels.
The new weapon is also flexible, capable of shooting at a range of intensities Au from a beam capable of burning through the hull of a ship or aircraft, to a burst that temporarily blinds adversary's sensors, rendering them briefly useless but otherwise undamaged. …