The USS Portland (LPD-27) is a type of amphibious transport dock ship that successfully deployed its LWSD (Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator) against a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) during a recent demonstration.
Such an event was the first time when a high-energy class solid-state laser was utilized. Here are all the details.
The US Navy Ship’s Laser Weapon System Detailed
By operating such advanced sea tests against small crafts and UAVs, the US Navy will acquire valuable information from the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator’s capabilities against possible threats. The laser weapon represents a unique capability, and the USS Portland got the incredible chance to test and control it for the Navy. It will also pave the way for upcoming weapons systems. US Navy Capt. Karrey Sanders stated: “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”
According to the Navy, the laser system is being developed because of a growing number of threats that include small armed boats, adversary intelligence, UAVs, and reconnaissance systems. The Navy has utilized other laser weapons on its ships before, such as the 30kW class laser Weapon System (LaWs) aboard the USS Ponce.
The Navy hopes these laser systems can protect the fleet from long-range missiles being handled by opponents like China, capable of out-ranging the US carrier strike group’s missiles and jets. China’s land-based missiles might have the power to overwhelm a carrier group’s skill to intercept with a limited amount of missiles. So, this is where the laser systems come in.
The US Army is producing a laser weapon, the IFPC-HEL (the Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser), which should range up to 300kW and track artillery, rockets, and mortars. The Office of Naval Research awarded the Northrup Grumman $53 million to develop the 150kW-class LWSD back in 2015.