Technology

Navy unveils laser weapon

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Navy unveiled a new laser weapon designed to protect ships from aerial attacks Monday after secret testing in San Diego.

Military officials said the laser could be deployed at sea by next year and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

A test video released Monday gave the public a glimpse of the new infrared laser.  It showed the solid state laser mounted aboard the San Diego-based destroyer Dewey. In the video, the weapon fires at a drone and in seconds the drone goes down in flames.

Navy unveils new laser San Diego State University Associate Physics Professor Dr. Matt Anderson said infrared lasers like these could allow US forces unprecedented defense capabilities.

“If you have a weapon that uses laser technology, it’s sending out this bullet essentially at the speed of light,” Anderson said.  “No target can move out of the way in the short amount of time that it takes to reach the target.”

The solid state infrared laser is also good for the Department of Defense budget. The technology has a $32 million price tag, but low overhead after that.

“A round of this directed energy that comes out of this laser is a little under $1,” said Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research. “That’s effectiveness and affordability.”

By comparison, one Tomahawk missile cost about $1 million to fire.

The Pentagon plans to mount the first laser on the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf during the 2014 fiscal year.

Iran is known for operating small surveillance drones in the area and this weapon has the ability to eliminate any threat as long as it has access to electricity.

The Navy has made strides in directed energy weapons, but Anderson said there are still major hurdles for this technology.

Lasers may not work in bad weather conditions and this solid state infrared laser hasn’t been tested on bigger high-speed targets.

 

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