US Navy Tests New Laser Weapon Off Yemen Coast

December 18th, 2021 - by Dave DeCamp/

USS Portland conducts a high-energy laser weapon test in the Gulf of Aden

US Navy Laser Destroys a Floating Target

Dave DeCamp/

 (December 15, 2021) — The US Navy tested an advanced laser weapon near Yemen’s coast in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, destroying a floating target.

The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland “conducted a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration.” In 2020, the Portland tested the same weapon and successfully took down an aerial drone.

The US Navy chose the Portland to host and experiment with laser weapons in 2018. Media reports said the laser could be used to target drone boats that have been used by Yemen’s Houthis in the Red Sea since the test was conducted in the region.

With US support, Saudi Arabia’s navy has been enforcing a blockade on Yemen since Riyadh intervened in the country’s civil war back in 2015. The Houthis have attacked Saudi warships and tankers since the war started. 

The Saudi-led war in Yemen has caused widespread disease and mass starvation. The UN recently said by the end of this year, 377,000 people will have died in the Yemen war. President Biden is still supporting the war despite his earlier vows to end support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen.

USS Portland Tests High Energy
Laser Weapon System in Gulf of Aden

5th Fleet Public Affairs – NAVCENT

MANAMA, Bahrain (December 15, 2021) —Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) conducted a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration, Dec. 14, while sailing in the Gulf of Aden.

During the demonstration, the Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0 aboard Portland successfully engaged a static surface training target. Portland previously tested the LWSD in May 2020 when it successfully disabled a small, unmanned aerial system while operating in the Pacific Ocean.

The Office of Naval Research selected Portland to host the laser weapon technology in 2018. The LWSD is considered a next-generation follow-on to the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) tested for three years while operating in the Middle East.

Portland is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group that includes amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and embarked Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The units departed San Diego in August and began operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet region in September.

The region’s geography, climate, and strategic importance offer a unique environment for technology innovation. U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations includes the world’s largest standing maritime partnership, Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.