The Office of Naval Research has concluded a three-month operational demonstration in the Persian Gulf of a shipboard laser weapon system that was integrated with the existing defense systems of the U.S. Navy‘s USS Ponce.
David Smalley reports Wednesday that LaWS destroyed moving at-sea and airborne targets, including a small boat and an unmanned aerial vehicle, during the demonstration.
“Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations,” said ONR Chief Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder.
“We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality.”
ONR worked with industry partners, the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Research Laboratory and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division to build LaWS, which works to combat threats with both nonlethal and lethal laser beams.
It was first deployed in August before the operational tests running through November.
The report said data collected from these tests will shape ONR’s future Solid-State Laser-Technology Maturation program.
Smalley writes that laser weapons facilitate increased ship safety, targeting precision and lower production and operating costs.
“With affordability a serious concern for our defense budgets, this will more effectively manage resources to ensure our sailors and marines are never in a fair fight,” Klunder said.