Laser Weapon System Will Defend The USS Ponce
Do you remember the US Navy announcement sometime in 2013 that it would have laser cannons on its ships in 2014?
Yes, more than a year ago, the US Navy had made such an announcement in their plan to equip their naval ships with the Navy’s Laser Weapon System, otherwise known as LaWS. And true enough, the US Navy sent the USS Ponce into the ocean last summer after testing of the LaWS proved successful.
Laser Weapon System (LaWS)
The awesome Laser Weapon System of the US Navy is designed for fighting off hostile elements that are within a mile of the ship. Hostile elements include:
- Small boats
This weapon system may not have the capability to destroy the entire battleship but a laser weapon system is an amazing step towards that purpose. But because of this limitation, the USS Ponce will still carry its traditional weaponry alongside LaWs.
Laser Systems Are Based On Commercial Technologies
One of the major advantages found in laser-based weapon systems compared to the traditional ones is that some laser systems are based on commercial technologies, and are fairly efficient compared to other lasers. Such efficiency allows it to be powered on different platforms, utilizing existing power sources, according to Navy Captain Mike Ziv who is the program manager for directed energy and electric weapons of the Naval Sea Systems Command.
Field-Testing Of LaWS On USS Ponce
Recognizing such advantage, the US Navy field-tested the high-energy LaWS during the training exercises in the Persian Gulf last month on board the USS Ponce – a 43-year old armed transport ship that has been patrolling the Gulf since late August this year. The installed 30-kw, directed-energy, solid-state laser weapon system aboard the USS Ponce performed flawlessly during the exercises and the Navy said tests will continue for the next 12 months.
Operational Demo Video
Through the newly-released operational demonstration video of the laser weapon blasting a wide range of moving targets – simulated attack boats, rocket-propelled grenades, and unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, the LaWS has successfully convinced the US Central Command of the weapon’s being an operational asset.
In said video, operators are shown in front of a panel of screens. Using a hand control similar to that which is used by video gamers, the operator, all wired with communications gadgets – headset with mic set, an H-189 handset close by for quick reporting to commanders, etc., aims and fires at a target. In the field test, laser operators fended off a simulated boat “swarm attack” using a single weapon.
Approval Granted By US Central Command
The US Central Command, satisfied with the results of field testing, gave the USS Ponce’s commander the approval and authority to defend the ship using the laser weapon system. In an official statement, Rear Admiral L. Klunder, chief of naval research, said that the laser weapon will play an important role in the future of naval combat operation. Admiral Klunder described laser weapons as powerful and affordable.
The tested prototype of the laser weapon system, he said had gone through some extremely tough paces, but when tested, it locked on and destroyed the designated targets lethally. And the best thing about it is that the lasers cost less than a dollar per shot. Compare this to a single missile that costs millions of dollars. The laser on the USS Ponce is electrified by the diesel generator.
Higher-Power Laser Weapons By 2016 – 2017
The laser weapon used and tested on the USS Ponce is a baby brother to the 100- and 150-watt weapons which are due for installation on ships in 2016 or 2017. The prototype field-tested in the Persian Gulf was the low-power type, and the first laser weapon sent into the field for real-world assessment.
It also represented the initial stages of an ultimately large-scale deployment across the entire Navy surface fleets.
Based on the positive field-testing results of LaWS on USS Ponce, the US Navy is set to test the higher-power laser weapons to be mounted on other ships in the next couple of years.
Will Laws finally signal a technological shift for the US Navy?