Say it after me, kids: “We have all the best toys!”
A new laser gun mounted on the USS Ponce has been operational for months in the Persian Gulf, and it has exceeded expectations as far as its range and durability, senior Navy officers said Wednesday.
The Navy calls it the LaWS, short for laser weapon system. It was installed on the Ponce over the summer, and deployed this fall. Video released by the service on Wednesday shows it taking out an incoming speedboat in a test at a long, undisclosed range with directed energy. No laser beam can be seen, but the boat bursts into flames.
“It’s almost like a Hubble telescope at sea,” said Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, the Navy’s chief of naval research. “Literally, we’re able to get that kind of power and magnification.”
Video is available at the WaPo article. There’s no special-effect colored beam flashing across the seas, but the real is very real — the target bursts into flames.
The model on the Ponce is “only” 30 kilowatts strong, but the Navy has plans for models of up to 150 kilowatts. And it saves money on ammunition, each “shot” being far cheaper than a shell for a main gun. With work also underway on a shipboard railgun, the US Navy might give even Cthulhu pause.
The impetus for developing this weapon was the perceived threat to our ships, especially our carriers, from explosives-laden Iranian speedboats on suicide missions: imagine dozens of small craft, each intent on reenacting the attack on the USS Cole. In the eternal dance between offense and defense, the new threat, which illiterate commenters thought overwhelming, is now being thwarted with new technology and tactics.
As, eventually these early laser will be countered. Max Boot wrote a great book on this very process.
Still… Lasers on warships! How cool is that?
(And how soon before the Chinese steal it?)
via Gabriel Malor