The U.S. Navy showcased its powerful laser weapon by destroying a flying drone from the sky; the test was done somewhere in the Pacific Ocean .
pic.twitter.com/jQsmR6CpqN — U.S. Pacific Fleet (@USPacificFleet) May 22, 2020
USS Portland Shows Off
The USS Portland (LPD-27), which is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, tested out its Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) on an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) last week. The demonstration is the very first that the U.S. Navy has done with a high-energy class solid-state laser.
U.S. Navy Capt. Karrey Sanders who is the ship's commanding officer (CO) said in a press release: "By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,"
"The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy. While paving the way for future weapons systems, with this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy."
The weapon system came into being due to "an increasing number of threats" that are from but not limited to UAVs, small armed boats, enemy counterintelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The U.S. Navy has already used other laser weapon systems on their ships before, like the 30-kilowatt class Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on the USS Ponce.
The U.S. Navy Loves Lasers
The U.S. Navy hopes that later on, laser cannons can defend their fleets from drones and even long-range missiles being fired from other ships or inland by adversaries. Those missiles are a threat recognized by the U.S. Armed Forces, and some countries even have long-range missiles that can be fired in longer distances than their own, which makes them a grave threat.
Those missiles might be too much for a fleet to handle if fired simultaneously with large numbers and can potentially overwhelm the fleets defenses with their limited supply of countermeasures. That is where the laser will shine.
The U.S. Army is currently developing its powerful laser weapon called Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser or the IFPC-HEL. This weapon is estimated can range up to 300 kilowatts. The purpose of the IFPC-HEL would be to intercept rockets, artillery, and mortars from enemy vessels or combatants.
The company who would be developing the IFPC-HEL is Northrup Grumman and has already received funding from the Office of Naval Research of $53 million to develop the 150-kilowatt-class LSWD back in 2015.
Although there had been early development and some victories with the advancement of laser weaponry in the field, the U.S. Navy would not hesitate to try new forms of weaponry to keep the edge that they need to protect the free world.