The dream of sailors, nerds and sailor-nerds everywhere is on the verge of coming true, senior Navy technologists swear. Within four years, they claim they’ll have a working prototype of a laser cannon, ready to place aboard a ship. And they’re just months away from inviting defense contractors to bid on a contract to build it for them.
“Subsonic cruise missiles, aircraft, fast-moving boats, unmanned aerial vehicles” — Mike Deitchman, who oversees future weapons development for the Office of Naval Research, promises Danger Room that the Navy laser cannons just over the horizon will target them all.
Or they will be, if ONR’s plans work out as promised — not exactly a strong suit of proposed laser weapons over the decades. (Note the decided lack of blast at your side.) First step in reaching this raygun reality: Finish up the paperwork. “The contract will probably have options go through four years, but depending on which laser source the vendors pick, we may be able to demo something after two years,” says Roger McGiness, who works on laser tech for Deitchman. “Our hope afterwards is to move to acquisition.”
Translated from the bureaucrat: After the Office of Naval Research can prove the prototype works, it’ll recommend the Navy start buying the laser guns. That process will begin in “30 to 60 days,” adds Deitchman, when his directorate invites industry representatives for an informal idea session. Deitchman and McGiness plan on putting a contract out for the prototype “by the end of the year.”…
From a technological perspective, the Navy thinks maritime laser weapons finally represent a proven, mature technology. The key point came last April, when the Navy put a test laser firing a (relatively weak) 15-kilowatt beam aboard a decommissioned destroyer. Never before had a laser cannon at sea disabled an enemy vessel. But the Martime Laser Demonstrator cut through choppy California waters, an overcast sky and salty sea air to burn through the outboard engine of a moving motorboat a mile away. (Read more)
I thought we’d posted the test video, from last year, but if not:
Hum…. wonder if these will fit on the LCS?
I hear the first deployment is slated for the USS Alan Parsons….