The US Navy reported on April 13 that it has performed a test of a new laser weapon. “The ground-based laser system homed in on the red drone flying by, shooting a high-energy beam undetectable to the naked eye,” the Navy said in a statement.
“A brilliant orange flame blazed on the drone, smoke poured from its engine, and a parachute released as the vehicle plunged downward, crippled by the laser beam,” says the author.
The test firing, which took place in February of this year, was the first time the US tried out an all-electric, high-energy laser. A “subsonic cruise missile in flight” was the target in question.
The Layered Laser Defense, or LLD, was developed by Lockheed Martin and can fight a range of weaponry, including fast-attack boats and unmanned aerial systems.
“Innovative laser systems like the LLD have the potential to change the future of naval combat operations,” Rear Admiral Lorin C. Selby, the Navy’s chief of Naval Research, said in a statement.
“They equip the fleet with revolutionary capabilities, address a variety of threats, and deliver precision engagements with a deep magazine to complement existing defensive systems and boost sustained lethality in high-intensity battle,” he said.
Surprisingly, the United States Navy stated that there is no solid plan in place to deploy the Layer Laser Defense system on Navy ships. The laser, instead, “provides a glimpse into the future of laser weapons.” It’s small and strong, but it’s also more efficient than prior models.
“It incorporates artificial intelligence to better tracking and aiming, as well as sophisticated optics to observe a target and focus laser pulses to maximum effect.” The new laser weapon was utilised by the US Navy to take down high-speed drones and fixed-wing aerial vehicles.
“LLD is an example of what a very advanced laser system can do to defeat significant threats to naval forces,” said David Kiel, a former Navy captain who now works as a programme officer for the Office of Naval Research’s Aviation, Force Projection, and Integrated Defense Department, which conducted the laser testing.
“And we’re working hard to build on these accomplishments in the near future, both at ONR and in other Navy initiatives.”
Although the US Navy did similar laser weapon testing in the 1980s, those tests employed chemical-based laser weapons, which posed substantial logistical challenges for the Navy. However, the most current LLD experiments use an all-electrical technology that allows the Navy to draw from an almost infinite magazine depth.