Monday, May 14, 2012

Laser Weapons for Navy Ships - Armed with Science

We are getting closer and closer to the laser beam, I can feel it. A military scientist operates a laser in a test environment. The United states Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate conducts research on a variety of solid-state and chemical lasers. (U.S. Air Force)

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

The Navy…is getting LASER WEAPONS.


Okay, so it’s not right this second, but ONR is working to make it a reality.  To help sailors defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) wants to develop a solid-state laser weapon prototype that will demonstrate multi-mission capabilities aboard a Navy ship.

“We believe it’s time to move forward with solid-state lasers and shift the focus from limited demonstrations to weapon prototype development and related technology advancement,” said Peter Morrison, program officer of the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program.

ONR will host an industry day May 16 to provide the research and development community with information about the program. A Broad Agency Announcement is expected to be released thereafter to solicit proposals and bids.

The Navy’s long history of advancing directed-energy technology has yielded kilowatt-scale lasers capable of being employed as weapons. Among the programs, the Maritime Laser Demonstration developed a proof-of-concept technology that was tested at sea aboard a decommissioned Navy ship.

The demonstrator was able to disable a small boat target:

 Another program, the Laser Weapon System, demonstrated a similar ability to shoot down four small unmanned test aircraft.

The SSL-TM program builds upon ONR’s directed-energy developments and knowledge gained from other laser research initiatives, including the MK 38 Tactical Laser Demonstration tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

All of these efforts could help the Department of the Navy become the first of the armed forces to deploy high-energy laser weapons.  And this, friends and readers, should be a top priority.  First to the moon, first laser-armed Naval fleet.  Hey, it seems like an intuitive progression to me.

Once we get the laser weapons down, we can start talking shop about phasers, yes?



Information for this article provided by the Office of Naval Research

Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science.  She is an Army veteran an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.


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