RT News & LiveLeak & Voice of Russia & CBS News & The Associated Press – 2014-04-23 01:34:27
US Navy Readies to Deploy First Warfare Laser
Onboard USS Ponce this Spring
RT News & LiveLeak
(February 18, 2014) — The United States Navy is looking to finally make its highly-touted laser technology a reality this summer, when it will deploy its first laser weapon on a warship.
In fact, the Navy’s laser weapon has progressed far enough that when it’s deployed and tested on the USS Ponce, it can be controlled by a lone sailor.
Meanwhile, the Navy also plans to outfit one of its ships with an electromagnetic rail gun within two years. Speaking to the Associated Press, Navy Capt. Mike Ziv, a program manager at the Naval Sea Systems Command, said making these technologies operational â€œfundamentally changes the way” the United States conducts warfare.
The solid-state Laser Weapons System, for example, would allow the navy to effectively neutralize threats such as aerial drones and swarm boats by shooting them with a beam of intense heat and destroying their internal parts. Electromagnetic rail guns, meanwhile, could potentially replace traditional guns with a system that fires GPS-guided projectiles up to seven times faster than the speed of sound.
Perhaps even more importantly, these new weapons systems — particularly the lasers — would be far cheaper to operate than current technology. As RT reported last year, a single Tomahawk missile costs the United States $1.4 million dollars. A laser could bring prices down to a few dollars a shot — and, unlike one-and-done missiles, a laser could be fired continuously.
Still, at this point the military benefits are simply conjecture, since problems remain with both systems. Lasers typically become much less effective when the weather turns sour, meaning that rain or dust storms could severely shorten their range. Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the AP that while the Navy claims to have figured out how to operate lasers in poor weather, the weapon’s range would likely still shrink.
The electromagnetic gun, on the other hand, requires so much power to operate that none of the Navy’s current crop of ships can actually benefit from its existence. The Navy’s massive new destroyer, the $3.5 billion USS Zumwalt, is the only vessel that will be capable of using such a weapon, though it’s still under construction. The technology used in the Zumwalt class of destroyers is expected to eventually make its way into other Navy vessels.
Despite the hurdles that still need to be cleared, the US intends to move forward with these projects. Since 2005, the military has invested $240 million into the rail gun project, and its laser systems are reportedly further ahead of schedule than those being developed by other countries.
Drone Fighter: US Navy Ready to Deploy
First Warfare Laser Onboard Warship
Voice of Russia
(February 18, 2014) — The Navy intends to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, planning to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
For the Navy, the economic side of such armaments is more important. They cost pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out of ammunition.
The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by one sailor.
The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats” — aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce is set to be deployed.
Lasers are still unreliable — they tend to lose their effectiveness in case of bad weather or the turbulence in the atmosphere.
The rail gun requires vast amount of electricity to launch the projectile, defense analyst said. The Navy officials say, however, they have found ways to deal with use of lasers in bad weather. Producing enough energy for a rail gun is another problem.
The Navy’s new destroyer, the Zumwalt, under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine, is the only ship that has enough electric power to run a rail gun. The stealthy ship’s gas turbine-powered generators can produce up to 78 megawatts of power. That’s enough electricity for a medium-size city â€” and more than enough for a rail gun.
Both weapon systems are highly appreciated because they serve to “get ahead of the cost curve” — in other words, they are cheap.
Other countries are developing their own lasers too, but the US Navy claims to be more advanced at this point. “It’s fair to say that there are other countries working on this technology. That’s safe to say. But I would also say that a lot of what makes this successful came from the way in which we consolidated all of the complexity into something that can be operated by (a single sailor),” the US Navy official said proudly.
US Navy Ready to Deploy Laser for 1st Time
(February 18, 2014) — Some of the Navy’s futuristic weapons sound like something out of “Star Wars,” with lasers designed to shoot down aerial drones and electric guns that fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds.
That future is now.
The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.
“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.
The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats.” Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.
Rail guns, which have been tested on land in Virginia, fire a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound — enough velocity to cause severe damage. The Navy sees them as replacing or supplementing old-school guns, firing lethal projectiles from long distances.
But both systems have shortcomings.
Lasers tend to loser their effectiveness if it’s raining, if it’s dusty, or if there’s turbulence in the atmosphere, and the rail gun requires vast amount of electricity to launch the projectile, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute.
“The Navy says it’s found ways to deal with use of lasers in bad weather, but there’s little doubt that the range of the weapon would be reduced by clouds, dust or precipitation,” he said.
Producing enough energy for a rail gun is another problem.
The Navy’s new destroyer, the Zumwalt, under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine, is the only ship with enough electric power to run a rail gun. The stealthy ship’s gas turbine-powered generators can produce up to 78 megawatts of power. That’s enough electricity for a medium-size city — and more than enough for a rail gun.
Technology from the three ships in that DDG-1000 series will likely trickle down into future warships, said Capt. James Downey, the program manager.
Engineers are also working on a battery system to store enough energy to allow a rail gun to be operated on warships currently in the fleet.
Both weapon systems are prized because they serve to “get ahead of the cost curve,” Ziv said.
In other words, they’re cheap.
Each interceptor missile aboard a US Navy warship costs at least $1 million apiece, making it cost-prohibitive to defend a ship in some hostile environments in which an enemy is using aircraft, drones, artillery, cruise missiles and artillery, Thompson said.
With a laser operating on about 30 kilowatts of electricity — and possibly three times that in the future — the cost amounts to a few dollars per shot, Thompson said.
The “Star Wars” analogy isn’t a bad one.
Just like in the movies, the Navy’s laser directs a beam of energy that can burn through a target or fry sensitive electronics. Unlike the movie, the laser beam is invisible to the human eye.
The targeting system locks onto the target, sending a beam of searing heat. “You see the effect on what you are targeting but you don’t see the actual beam,” Ziv said.
Other nations are developing their own lasers, but the Navy is more advanced at this point.
Most folks are stunned to learn the technology is ready for deployment, Ziv said.
“It’s fair to say that there are other countries working on this technology. That’s safe to say. But I would also say that a lot of what makes this successful came from the way in which we consolidated all of the complexity into something that can be operated by (a single sailor),” he said.
(c) 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Laser Cannon Deployed By US Navy For Tests
A prototype of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) installed on the destroyer USS Dewey is believed to have cost up to $32 million
(April 9, 2013) — The US Navy has unveiled its latest weapon — a laser cannon capable of shooting down drones and disabling vessels. A prototype of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) installed on the destroyer USS Dewey is believed to have cost up to $32 million (Â£21m) to make. However, it runs on electricity and costs as little as $1 (66p) to fire — a fraction of the cost of conventional weaponery.
“The future is here,” said Peter Morrison of the Office of Naval Research. “The solid-state laser is a big step forward to revolutionising modern warfare with directed energy, just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords.”
The US Navy released a video of LaWS being used to shoot down a drone off the coast of San Diego, California. The system is expected to be installed permanently on USS Ponce in the next financial year.
A spokesman for the US Navy described LaWS as “revolutionary technology that gives the Navy an extremely affordable, multi-mission weapon with a deep magazine and unmatched precision, targeting and control functions”.
However, a report by the Congressional Research Service noted several drawbacks, including the potential for laser beams to strike satellites or aircraft. The system could also be affected be rain or fog.
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