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US War Exercise in Persian Gulf Could Escalate with Use of Laser Weapons


April 13, 2013
News Daily & Reuters & Eyder Peralta / National Public Radio

At the same time joint-US-South Korean military exercises provoked continuing saber-rattling from North Korea, the US and its allies are planning to stage a new naval exercise in the Persian Gulf in May. Typically, this military provocation -- halfway around the world -- is explained as "guarding against a potential threat." In this case, from Iran. In a risky escalation, the US plans to deploy a solid-state laser weapon aboard the USS Ponce -- capable of targeting Iranian drones and boats.

http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre9370nv-us-gulf-naval/

US Allies Plan Big Gulf Naval Exercise in May
News Daily & Reuters

DUBAI (April 8, 2013) -- The United States and its allies will stage a naval exercise in the Gulf in May to practise minesweeping and escorting ships, the US Navy said on Monday, a maneuver likely to be seen in the region as guarding against a potential threat from Iran.

Representatives from more than 30 nations will gather in Bahrain for the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) 13 from May 6-30, eight months after they staged a previous edition of the exercises at a time when Israel and Iran were trading threats of war.

In early 2012 Iran repeatedly threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow exit route through which most of the Gulf's oil and gas is exported, amid heightened tension with the West over Tehran's disputed nuclear development program.

But such threats have faded over the last few months, as world powers have tried to resolve their differences with Tehran through negotiations.

Piracy remains a threat to shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, but successful attacks also have fallen thanks to an international naval protection force and armed security guards now commonly employed on at-risk voyages.

"This multidisciplinary defense exercise is focused on maritime security for commerce and trade from the port of origin to the port of arrival," Commodore Simon Ancona, deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, said in a statement.

In addition to minesweeping and flying drones, this year's event will include escorting ships and protecting offshore terminals that oil and gas exporters in the Gulf rely on.

US Commander Jason Salata told Reuters the exercises in May would be limited to the Gulf and Gulf of Oman and focus on protecting critical infrastructure such as offshore oil assets.

There were no exercises planned in the Strait of Hormuz itself because it could be disruptive to normal shipping through the narrow shipping lanes. "It will be simulating convoy type situations but not in the Strait itself," Salata said.

Last September's exercises included Britain and France, some unnamed Middle Eastern states, and countries from as far apart as Estonia and New Zealand. The names of the countries taking part in the exercises this May have not been announced.

In a separate development, a US fighter jet crashed into the North Arabian Sea after an engine failure on Monday but both crew were recovered unharmed, the US Navy said.

The F/A-18F Super Hornet was flying near the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier when a mechanical failure forced the crew to eject. The exact location of the crash was not given but the Northern Arabian Sea bordered by Pakistan to the north and Oman to the west.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren, Editing by William Maclean and Michael Roddy)
Copyright Reuters 2013.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.





Laser Weapon System (LaWS)
Office of Naval Research

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (July 30, 2012) -- The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) (shown here conducting an operational test) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source.

The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy video.)


US Will Deploy Solid-State Laser Weapon On Ship Headed To Persian Gulf
Eyder Peralta / National Public Radio

(April 8, 2013) -- For the first time ever, the United States is deploying a solid-state laser weapon. The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) successfully destroyed a drone in flight during a test run and will head to the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Ponce as part of what the military is calling an "at-sea demonstration."

"The future is here," Peter A. Morrision, program officer for ONR's Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation Program, said in a statement. "The solid-state laser is a big step forward to revolutionizing modern warfare with directed energy, just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords."

Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder said one of the big deals here is that a laser shot costs about $1.

"Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability," Klunder said.

Another big advantage: A laser moves at the speed of light and in the future it may be able to disable an incoming missile.

The New York Times reports that deploying the laser aboard the Ponce "seemed meant as a warning to Iran not to step up activity in the gulf in the next few months if tensions increase because of sanctions and the impasse in negotations over the Iranian nuclear program."

The laser, the Navy said, is capable of destroying a vesel to non-lethal disabling.

The Navy released a video of the weapon system during a test aboard the USS Dewey in San Diego. The Navy says it shows a laser beam hitting an unmanned aircraft and after about four seconds, it catches fire and crashes into the ocean.

Wired/i>'s Danger Room wrote a piece back in March about 2013 being the Navy's "year of the laser gun."

It reports that putting the laser on the Ponce is a big deal. Wired reported:

"First, testing a laser gun -- most likely a solid-state laser -- on a ship at sea puts enormous pressure on a much-hyped weapon to show-and-prove. Second, the laser isn't going on any old ship, it's going on the Ponce, recently -- that is, a new launchpad for attack helicopters, drones and commandos for, among other missions, counterterrorism raids. In other words, the Navy is putting laser weaponry aboard one of the ships it's most eager to highlight."

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

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