Military

US Navy disables drone using a high-energy shipborne laser weapon

US Navy disables drone using a...
The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully tests a Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0
The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully tests a Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0
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The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully tests a Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0
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The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully tests a Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0

The US Navy has successfully carried out a demonstration of a high-energy laser weapon installed in a warship. On May 16, 2020, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) locked onto and disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with its Solid-State Laser - Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0.

With their ability to engage targets at the speed of light and shoot them down at a cost of a dollar a shot, lasers and other directed-energy weapons (DEWs) have become a high priority for the world's major military powers.

The LWSD used in the recent test at an undisclosed location was developed by the US Office of Naval Research using a solid-state laser developed by Northrop Grumman. It's one of several DEWs being produced for the US Armed Forces and builds on the successful sea tests of an earlier laser aboard USS Ponce in 2014.

According to the Navy, the purpose of such lasers isn't necessarily to destroy the target, but to damage, degrade, neutralize, or defeat its capabilities as well.

"By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small craft, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” says Captain Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of USS Portland. "The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy while paving the way for future weapons systems. With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy."

The videos below show the test.

USS Portland (LPD 27) tests LWSD (1)
USS Portland (LPD 27) tests LWSD (2)

Source: US Navy

7 comments
Al Wolske
With a light that bright even the Canadian Navy could find and hit them. Couldn't make it any easier
Derek Howe
Al Wolske - You do realize every remotely capable country knows where all military vessels are, at all times, thanks to satellites. This is a major achievement, giving ships a limitless bucket of photon ammo. Aircraft, missiles, and even approaching vessels, can be instantly neutralized. Modern day example, would be small Iranian patrol boats harassing the US Navy, they could simply melt their motor, neutralizing the threat/nuisance while have no political blow-back from casualties.
BlueOak
This is some cool tech. Bring it on. It is about time.
1stClassOPP
Good stuff, but I don’t see anything about effective range. Is if 50 meters, or 5000 meters?
Rocky Stefano
@Derek.. ya aiming that laser at an Iraninan tugboat would do a little more than just melt the engine... likely melt their faces too
ljaques
Vid 1: 6 seconds of laser light. Vid 2: 8 seconds of laser on target which looks like plane turning. No explosion, no smoke, no wing crumpling, aircraft did not fall from sky. Layman takeaway: Indeterminate results and insufficient data to critique further. One note: laser stayed firmly on target for those seconds.
Howard Chin
It would seem that reflective surface coatings might effectively defeat such a weapon. The illuminated area of the target showed a significant degree of beam spreading, and as "ljaques"s comment said, no dramatic effects. To get past something with effective countermeasures the laser should be many times (perhaps orders of magnitude) more intense, and much shorter duration to vaporize a 99+% reflective coating, and create a shockwave able to create dramatic, and effective effects