The latest defensive system deployed by the US Navy is its first laser weapon on USS Ponce in a few months, called LaWS, using a fiber-optic and solid state laser that can be used in both defensive and offensive manner against the threats like drones, airborne missiles and other targets. The Office of Naval Research are extending this weapon to Ground vehicles as well and are granting contracts for this purpose. The goal is to install this advance weaponry system in light-tactical vehicles as a part of their Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-The-Move program and the Marine Corps Science and Technology Strategic Plan.
According to Colonel William Zamagni, acting head of ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, “We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat,” He also said+ “GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad other possibilities for future expeditionary forces.”
This advanced piece of weaponry is not going to replace any of the weapons already carried by their Marine unit, but is going to be a mere addition. A cherry on the top, to be precise. It will be able to target long range with the speed of light and intercept incoming missiles moving at supersonic speed. Additionally it does not require any addition ammunition to be carried around with it, hence it is going to be a deadly weapon for the enemy. The vision is to install this advance targeting laser on the light vehicles like the Humvee and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, so that they can provide mobile defense and attack options in times of need.
The ONR, working with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and the Industry is accommodating the Navy laser, stressing upon the laser, the beam director, the advanced cooling mechanism, the radar, power generation, beam control, advanced optics, and the communications and command, control system.
Brigadier General Kevin Killea, Vice Chief of Naval Research and Commanding General – the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, tells us that, “We’re confident we can bring together all of these pieces in a package that’s small enough to be carried on light tactical vehicles and powerful enough to counter these threats.”
According to plan, the laser system will be tested using targets, later this year, with a 10 kW laser which will be later upgraded to the strength of 30kW in 2016. The main purpose of the tests will be to focus on the system’s ability to detect and track UAVs and its ability and functioning, when placed on vehicles of different sizes.