Video: US Navy’s new frickin’ laser weapon pretty frickin’ cool

posted at 11:21 am on April 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

All right, the US Navy’s latest experimental weapons system isn’t attached to sharks, but it’s still pretty frickin’ cool.  The prosaically named Laser Weapons System (LaWS — no “frickin’”) got a public rollout yesterday with a video released by the Pentagon demonstrating the power of its fully operational Death Star — er, surface attack system.  Not only is it frickin’ cool, it’s also relatively frickin’ inexpensive:

 The weapon is being billed as a step toward transforming warfare. Since it runs on electricity, it can fire as long as there is power at a cost of less than $1 dollar per shot.

“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,” Chief of Naval Research Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, said in a statement.

The prototype, which one official said cost between $31 million and $32 million to make, will be installed aboard the USS Ponce, which is being used as a floating base in the Middle East, sometime in fiscal year 2014, which begins in October.

At $32 million an installation — a price that will come down as mass production ramps up — that’s probably one of the less expensive weapons systems we’ve developed in recent years, too.  The system isn’t perfect, or even widely applicable, though.  Its lower-power laser will only work against light construction, and may have issues in inclement weather.  However, as Wired’s Spencer Ackerman points out, it is ideally suited for one particular theater of potential frickin’ conflict:

It just so happens that the LaWS’s ability to track and kill surveillance drones and swarming fast boats matches with Iran’s development of surveillance drones and swarming fast-boat tactics. And it just so happens that the Ponce will spend most of 2014 deployed in Iran’s backyard. …

A lot about that cost figure depends on successful integration aboard a ship’s deck; successfully drawing from a ship’s power without compromising the propulsion systems; and the cost of fuel per shot. And it also factors out the cost of the weapon itself. But if it turns out to be genuine, the Navy will have developed the rare high-end weapons system that undercuts the cost of adversary weapons.

The big concern in surface warfare is that anti-ship missiles are way cheaper than ships. The Navy can’t make ships cheaper. (Let’s be real.) But it might be able to develop a countermeasure to those anti-ship weapons cheaper than those weapons themselves. As the Navy sees it, that’s the ultimate promise of laser guns: A weapon that undercuts the increasing cheapness and availability of powerful missiles and robots. It’s by no means certain that the Navy can realize the promise. But it’s now fully committed to trying.

The Iranian strategy was to defeat massive power with nimble speed and numbers.  The LaWS system responds to that threat with inexpensive yet effective weapons systems that can complement existing countermeasures.  If nothing else, it shows that the Pentagon has thought outside the box about this particular theater of operations, and not just in regard to Iran.  The lesson of the USS Cole was that small craft can exploit slow defense responses and a reluctance to engage with heavy weapons on an unknown threat.  The laser cannon also provides a good alternative to lower-scale terrorist and pirate attacks.  And if this system is successful in its deployments, we probably can expect higher-power versions of LaWS to enhance or replace more expensive weapons systems on surface ships, and perhaps other craft as well.

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Comment pages: 1 2

video’s not workin for me.

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:25 AM

nm, works now.

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM

How soon before Barry shares the plans with the PRC so they can build their own. We mustn’t have superiority in weaponry. It wouldn’t be fair.

/s

hawkeye54 on April 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Just like the UAV becoming the newest insectbots, think about the Friggin’ awesomeness when everybody (and I mean everybody) can have one of these friggin’ lasers ……

I WANT ONE, yesterday!

Sir Napsalot on April 9, 2013 at 11:34 AM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

The weapon is being billed as a step toward transforming warfare. Since it runs on electricity, it can fire as long as there is power at a cost of less than $1 dollar per shot.

Yet I’m still paying $3.79 per gallon for gas.

Where is my flying car?

portlandon on April 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Couldn’t it also shoot down any other aircraft? Jet, helicopter, prop plane…

albill on April 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM

I WANT ONE, yesterday!

Sir Napsalot on April 9, 2013 at 11:34 AM

But according to the trolls, you’re only entitled to a musket.

CurtZHP on April 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Smoke’n Hot!!

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Yeah, but will it pop a humongous container of Jiffy Pop?

iurockhead on April 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Couldn’t it also shoot down any other aircraft? Jet, helicopter, prop plane…

albill on April 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM

A manned ssytem might be more responsive…a laser works by focusing energy for a period of time on the aeroshell…a missile, or a UAV may not be responsive enough to manuever…

Manuever, means to beam hits ANOTHER area of the aeroshell, and has to start anew…

A projectile delivers it’s energy, practically, simultaneously, whereas a laser takes time…

Further it would be ILLEGAL to use the laser against a manned A/c, IIRC…blinding your enemy is not legal…killing them yes, blinding them…no.

JFKY on April 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!
nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Wait for the first blaster. Or better yet, first lightsaber (sine if it has a projectile you wouldn’t want it). In the mean time, GB wants people like you.

nobar on April 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Yeah, but will it pop a humongous container of Jiffy Pop?

iurockhead on April 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Like using a CO2 extinguisher to cool a six pack?

Ward Cleaver on April 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

What is that UAV, anyway? It reminds me of the Navy’s stillborn A-12 Avenger II attack plane.

Ward Cleaver on April 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

JFKY on April 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

And how effective would it be on a fast-moving, incoming missile? Takes a bit of time with the laser on one spot to build up enough heat to do damage. I wouldn’t unplug the Phalanx machine gun systems just yet.

Looks to be very effective at blinding cameras on a drone, though.

iurockhead on April 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Wait for the first blaster. Or better yet, first lightsaber (sine if it has a projectile you wouldn’t want it). In the mean time, GB wants people like you.

nobar on April 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

All that stuff runs on electricity. Just wait for this troll and her ilk to start screeching about banning electricity. Of course, their electric cars will be exempt.

CurtZHP on April 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Star Wars..
The left ridiculed Reagen..
But here we are..

Electrongod on April 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Why not? Are you afraid of criminals forking out 32 million dollars and using a laser against you?

gwelf on April 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

If it’s mounted on a musket, can I have one?

ghostwalker1 on April 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

.
As far as I’m concerned, IF … you can afford it.

listens2glenn on April 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Yeah, but will it pop a humongous container of Jiffy Pop?

iurockhead on April 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

.
Like using a CO2 extinguisher to cool a six pack?

Ward Cleaver on April 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

.
. . . . . . . : )

listens2glenn on April 9, 2013 at 11:52 AM

At $32 million an installation — a price that will come down as mass production ramps up — that’s probably one of the less expensive weapons systems we’ve developed in recent years, too.*

*Destroyer sold separately

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 11:53 AM

American exceptionality is alive and well.

OldEnglish on April 9, 2013 at 11:54 AM

The really cool part is the ability to track a small spot on the target to pinpoint the pulsing laser on.

Speakup on April 9, 2013 at 11:54 AM

The lesson of the USS Cole was that small craft can exploit slow defense responses and a reluctance to engage with heavy weapons on an unknown threat.

I respectfully disagree… the lesson of the USS COLE was NOT TO PUT A SHIP IN A HARBOR IN A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE THE STATE DEPARTMENT THINKS IT IS A GOOD IDEA… that small craft laden with high explosives would have never gotten close to COLE if she was at sea, not in port in Yemen…

And PLEASE don’t get me started with “slow defenses” and non-engagement with heavy weapons; the ship was IN PORT. Please review the standing ROE (rules of engagement) AT THE TIME before making statements like that…

signed, retired Navy guy and friend of the COLE’s CO (at the time)

Khun Joe on April 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

It just so happens that the LaWS’s ability to track and kill surveillance drones and swarming fast boats matches with Iran’s development of surveillance drones and swarming fast-boat tactics. And it just so happens that the Ponce will spend most of 2014 deployed in Iran’s backyard. …

Mr. Sulu……set the anti-Jihadi LASER to ……”COOK” and FIRE!!!!!

ted c on April 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

It’s not ready until you can mount it on a shark’s head. /DrEvil

jnelchef on April 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Yeah, but will it pop a humongous container of Jiffy Pop?

iurockhead on April 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

i see what you did there…..

well played.

ted c on April 9, 2013 at 11:58 AM

**sniff sniff**

i love the smell of roasted jihadi pirates in the morning….

ted c on April 9, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Put lots of mirrors on your drone to reflect the laser beam away from the drone…
;-)

albill on April 9, 2013 at 11:59 AM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

You want to regulate light?

Ronnie on April 9, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Khun Joe on April 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

You tell em Joe… ;)

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Has anyone stopped to think that a highly reflective coating like a chrome finish can deflect laser?!?!?! Seriously, guys…cheap mirrors as a shield is all it takes to defeat this laser. And to think they can deflect it back to destroy the ship that fired it. Doh!! Back to the drawing board, geniuses!!

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

No you imbecile, it does not “Technically” qualify as a gun, Guns are projectile weapons, Laser’s do not employe projectiles. Ergo, a Laser is not a gun in any technical sense of the word, or even in any non technical sense. You on the other hand most definitely do quality in the most technical of senses as an imbecile.

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Remember this:

US 747 ABL Weapon System

Sunday, January 15th, 2012
Obama military budget cuts claim airborne laser program
*******************************************************
********************************************************

WASHINGTON — The United States has canceled its airborne laser
program, which aroused major interest in the Middle East for its ability to intercept intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

he administration of President Barack Obama has decided to terminate
the ABL program, meant to develop a Boeing 747-400F passenger aircraft
fitted with a chemical oxygen iodine laser in the nose of the platform.

ABL, led by prime contractor Boeing, was canceled in December in
wake of two successful interceptions in 2010. But a combination of competing
technologies as well as sharp budget cuts led to the end of the program.(More….)
==================

http://www.worldtribune.com/2012/01/15/obama-military-budget-cuts-claim-airborne-laser-program/

747 ABL Image:

http://www.worldtribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Airborne-Laser-ABL.jpg

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Has anyone stopped to think that a highly reflective coating like a chrome finish can deflect laser?!?!?! Seriously, guys…cheap mirrors as a shield is all it takes to defeat this laser. And to think they can deflect it back to destroy the ship that fired it. Doh!! Back to the drawing board, geniuses!!

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

ROTFLMAO… Somebody must have slept through Physic’s 101…

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:08 PM

But according to the trolls, you’re only entitled to a musket.

And a limit of one ball and a minute amount of black powder per month…..and only if you present a state certificate of approval.

hawkeye54 on April 9, 2013 at 12:10 PM

The relatively low power solid state laser is insufficient for fast moving targets and I guessing that even light rain and fog make it useless. But if the weather is nice, and the target moves slow enough it is cheap to operate. Sensor dazzling is cool. Nice test platform.

STL_Vet on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I can’t believe the Ponce is still around, I sailed on the Saipan along with her on an Amphibious Readiness Group back in ’93. Interesting they chose an old LPD for the pilot test.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

I hope they have a couple of these in the Pacific… Just saw this:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/390452/North-Korea-to-launch-missile-TOMORROW-after-warning-foreigners-to-evacuate-South??

The Norks are packing up the UK Embassy. I wonder if they are leaving DC too.

dogsoldier on April 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Wow.

Ronnie on April 9, 2013 at 12:16 PM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense…contemplating suicide!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

…fify!

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Has anyone stopped to think that a highly reflective coating like a chrome finish can deflect laser?!?!?! Seriously, guys…cheap mirrors as a shield is all it takes to defeat this laser. And to think they can deflect it back to destroy the ship that fired it. Doh!! Back to the drawing board, geniuses!!

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Most of these drones are made of aluminum, just strip the paint, and polish the aluminum and laser is useless. No extra parts or money needed.

geramy2012 on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Who cares. A deflected laser is useless when it’s reflected back at you with a cheap mirror. $35 Million system downed with mirror bought a the dollar store. Nice, you knuckleheads.

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I want a personal, portable version. Just for heating MRE’s, of course.

EyeSurgeon on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Who cares. A deflected laser is useless when it’s reflected back at you with a cheap mirror. $35 Million system downed with mirror bought a the dollar store. Nice, you knuckleheads.

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

There’s no perfect reflector. Not even a mirror can reflect all wavelengths. Just tune the laser to a different wavelength, and watch it eat through the mirror like it wasn’t there.

The ridiculous amount of energy behind it notwithstanding.

CurtZHP on April 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

The Norks are packing up the UK Embassy. I wonder if they are leaving DC too.

dogsoldier on April 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

The US doesn’t have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Or perhaps for giving jihadis a split-second preview of what they will be feeling for all eternity.

EyeSurgeon on April 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

And popcorn.

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Most of these drones are made of aluminum, just strip the paint, and polish the aluminum and laser is useless. No extra parts or money needed.

geramy2012 on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Did you learn physics watching Road Runner cartoons?

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Who cares. A deflected laser is useless when it’s reflected back at you with a cheap mirror. $35 Million system downed with mirror bought a the dollar store. Nice, you knuckleheads.

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

News Flash for those who failed Physic’s 101, cheap mirrors do not reflect back high powered lasers. The slightest imperfection in the mirror, or any foreign material on the mirror’s surface cause the cheap mirror to burn up.

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Think the Kimbecile in NorK has seen this yet?

PJ Emeritus on April 9, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM
geramy2012 on April 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I’m calling a double MOBY.

nobar on April 9, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Lasers have pluses of delivering energy at c, which is something that is hard to evade.

It suffers from being a LOS only weapon, particulate scattering (dust, sea spray, fog), attenuation and is difficult to use against targets painted to reflect their frequency. Mirrors and polishing require that you get past 90% efficiency for reflectivity and much closer to something like 95% as any energy that gets past to hit the actual reflecting material that is absorbed then degrades that material. Oh, the next best thing: paint whatever it is you want to protect white. White reflects all frequencies (at least visible ones) and if you don’t know the frequency of the lasers you are going against, then white is your friend. Paints and other surface materials will get into that 95%+ range but still suffer even at 99%, they will slow but not stop a laser.

If you want over the horizon, non-LOS capability you need projectile weapons. I suggest a rail gun firing at Mach 7 and having its projectile hit around Mach 5. These will not eliminate the need for close-in projectile defense weapons or the need for standard over the horizon weapons that are currently available. At a buck a shot it comes close to the 50cal, but it has a lower cost to manufacture and I doubt a laser weapon will ever get as cheap as the old fashioned Ma-Deuce for up-front cost or back-end cost.

A nice addition to the arsenal, yes.

A panacea, no.

Anyone who does a bit of nosing around can build their own system able to handle razorblade thickness in a few seconds for materials destruction at close range. How long until you can scale up the home stuff or scale down the big device? Unknown, but expect sooner rather than later. As a form of general arms it has its pluses and minuses…

ajacksonian on April 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I can’t believe the Ponce is still around, I sailed on the Saipan along with her on an Amphibious Readiness Group back in ’93. Interesting they chose an old LPD for the pilot test.

NoDonkey on April 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

they had to pick this one — I used to hate coming across HMS Anything because of the ship’s name. Although, it’s gotta stick in the Iranians’ collective craw..

affenhauer on April 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM

So that’s where Obama’s job focus laser went !

mdavt on April 9, 2013 at 12:34 PM

I see a number of people on this thread who believe that a mirror or reflective surface will defeat a laser.

This pushed my ‘wait a minute’ button. I remember Tom Clancy discussing the concept of reflective mirror and other things like it back in the SDI days.

So I did a little bit of reading.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100510062027AAJcxlX

My first answer is
1) A mirror or reflective surface is at least a partial defense BUT
2) That reflectivity has to be maintained in combat conditions, probably through constant polishing.
3) There is no such thing as a perfectly reflective mirror, so it’s quite possible for a laser to destroy a mirror , as the amount of energy not reflected will build up in the target.

I suspect that, under combat conditions, atmospheric issues such as dust or sandstorms or all that other gunk in the air will prove more problematic than a reflective surface would be.

Of course, being reflective would certainly *help* against a laser. But I wonder if being reflective would cause other tactical issues. For example, it occurs to me that making a drone as reflective as possible might also give it a larger radar signature.

‘nother thought: Is it possible to put the laser at a frequency that the mirror can’t reflect? A maser, for example?

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Do_mirrors_reflect_all_forms_of_electromagnetic_radiation_and_if_yes_or_no_why

Would it be possible to build a weapon that wasn’t reflected by common mirrors but would still be tactically useful because it can punch through atmosphere?

Because of these things, I don’t think it’s a legit argument to say ” I have mirrors. Therefore you FAIL.” Certainly mirrors complicate the issue, but I don’t think it’s a silver bullet guaranteed defense.

pendell2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:35 PM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Why, yes, every American citizen should have the right to have their own defensive laser or missile battery to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. I’m glad you are finally on board with the 2nd Amendment.

LoganSix on April 9, 2013 at 12:35 PM

One of the problems with laser weapons is that a reflective coating pretty much defeats the weapon. Will lots of pirates or pirate ships bother? Maybe not, but I’m willing to bet that coating the underbelly of a plane wouldn’t cost too much.

Physics Geek on April 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Phalanx machine gun system

iurockhead on April 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Now THAT’S a gun!

CurtZHP on April 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

They can shoot a airplane out of the air with a laser but can’t produce a vid with sound?

davidk on April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Has anyone stopped to think that a highly reflective coating like a chrome finish can deflect laser?!?!?! Seriously, guys…cheap mirrors as a shield is all it takes to defeat this laser. And to think they can deflect it back to destroy the ship that fired it. Doh!! Back to the drawing board, geniuses!!

Danilo on April 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

I plan on driving around in my chromed De Lorean.

LoganSix on April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Physics Geek on April 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Sure makes them VERY visible for the non-laser weapons systems tho, don’t it?

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – still damned.

PJ Emeritus on April 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

“And to think they can deflect it back to destroy the ship that fired it. Doh!! ”

I don’t think it works that way either. It’d work , perhaps, with a perfectly reflective target in a vacuum. But in atmosphere the laser is going to lose energy going through the atmosphere and it’ll lose energy on the way back. So I wouldn’t be concerned about the possibility of the laser being reflected back and destroying the source platform. I’d be more concerned about the laser destroying the target at all.

‘Nother thing: It won’t reflect directly back to the aim point unless the beam hits dead on and gets bounced directly back. If it hits at any kind of angle the beam won’t go directly back to the target. It’ll be reflected somewhere else.

pendell2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

It’s only a matter of time until we all want one. So much for the ammo shortage!

MTF on April 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Excellent. When can we get one in a personal defense model. I’m tired of hearing about semi-autos and high-capacity magazines.

InterestedObserver on April 9, 2013 at 12:51 PM

All part of the multi-spectral arsenal of fricking capabilities. PRC is way far behind. We will keep it that way.

jake49 on April 9, 2013 at 12:52 PM

I plan on driving around in my chromed De Lorean.

LoganSix on April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

That will come in handy when the Libyans come looking for you at the mall. Just one tip. Don’t get her above 88 mph. If you do. Please go back in time and do something about Obama o.k. Thanks!

Minnfidel on April 9, 2013 at 12:52 PM

hey, that laser thingy technically qualifies as a gun right…so I should be able to have one for…um self defense!

nonpartisan on April 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Evidently, you even sleep with your head up your ass.

Do you drink your morning coffee with a straw?

Solaratov on April 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

One of the problems with laser weapons is that a reflective coating pretty much defeats the weapon. Will lots of pirates or pirate ships bother? Maybe not, but I’m willing to bet that coating the underbelly of a plane wouldn’t cost too much.

Physics Geek on April 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

As someone professing to be a physic’s geek I must ask, what is your level of experience with optical physics? Your statement seems to suggest a, shall we say, lack of experience on the subject.

Field effects not witnessed at low energy levels do not mean those field effects are not present. Once you get into the Kilowatt or Megawatt range the slightest defect in a mirror’s reflective coating or surface topography results in an enormous energy transfer through the non reflective substrate via standing wave propagation. This energy transfer get’s multiplied by secondary diffraction interaction with complex topographical surface area’s.

What this means is that in the Kw and Mw ranges the mirrors must have nearly perfect reflective and topographical surfaces or they burn up almost as fast as a non reflective surface.

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

It’s only a matter of time until we all want one. So much for the ammo shortage!

MTF on April 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM

But you’re gonna need one helluvan extension cord.

Solaratov on April 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM

It’s cool as a step to the next iteration. This me looks too big, bulky and takes to long on target.

Get it to where it can take out multiple targets in shorter time, then we’re talking. Of course I’m sure that is the whole point of this.

Unless its designed for missile defense. Seems like it would be a more practicable application in that role.

Ronnie Ray-gun would be proud… :)

catmman on April 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM

What is that UAV, anyway? It reminds me of the Navy’s stillborn A-12 Avenger II attack plane.

Ward Cleaver on April 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Looks like an F-117 Nighthawk.

Solaratov on April 9, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Just another reminder of how many billions we have wasted on SDI.

If that had ever worked with unrigged testing, lasers hitting missles videos would have been all over the place for years. The best don’t-mess-with-us propaganda ever.

Moesart on April 9, 2013 at 1:16 PM

$1 a shot? That’s almost as cheap as a .223 these days – if you can get ‘em.

TexAz on April 9, 2013 at 1:16 PM

$1 a shot? That’s almost as cheap as a .223 these days – if you can get ‘em.

TexAz on April 9, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Cheaper than a 9mm, .308 or a .45 round. Just checked on Cheaper Than Dirt, which was mostly sold out.

LoganSix on April 9, 2013 at 1:19 PM

It just so happens that the LaWS’s ability to track and kill surveillance drones

I frickin want one. If the price doesn’t come down, I’ll build my own.

The Rogue Tomato on April 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Further it would be ILLEGAL to use the laser against a manned A/c, IIRC…blinding your enemy is not legal…killing them yes, blinding them…no. JFKY on April 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

So aim between the eyes.

Akzed on April 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Racists

Schadenfreude on April 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Looks like an F-117 Nighthawk.

Solaratov on April 9, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Definitely not a F117. Color, overall shape, vertical tails, rounded edges – no, not a F117.

GWB on April 9, 2013 at 1:28 PM

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

You took the words right outa my fingers.

Akzed on April 9, 2013 at 1:29 PM

The ponce is a floating base now from which we operate special forces in the region and mine sweeping equipment.

Imrahil on April 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

What does it matter if the drone comes down or not if the CCD devices in their cameras are melted?

slickwillie2001 on April 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

“Don’t lase me, Bro!!”

Shepherd Lover on April 9, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Further it would be ILLEGAL to use the laser against a manned A/c, IIRC…blinding your enemy is not legal…killing them yes, blinding them…no. JFKY on April 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

So aim between the eyes.

Akzed on April 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Well, their is a ummm, loophole in there. It is against the Geneva Convention to “Intentionally blind” an enemy combatant, blinding an enemy who is a secondary causality of an offensive strike is not a violation of the Geneva Convention.

As an example, it is a violation of the Geneva Convention to use a 130mm main battle tank cannon to intentionally target individual combatants, whereas it is not a violation to use that same 130mm main battle tank cannon to blow up a building full of combatants.

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM

What does it matter if the drone comes down or not if the CCD devices in their cameras are melted?

slickwillie2001 on April 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I think we should invent a system of warfare where no weapons are present. We simply run a simulation that computes casualties. Once the data is available, the IRS (or equivalent) selects SSA numbers according to the simulation results (location, region, etc.) and then the selected individuals are vaporized, humanely, within 24 hours.

All the fun of war, without environmental damage. And, we get to use stuff like tri-cobalt satellites and Vendikar fusion bombs.

Hey, its just a taste of Armageddon.

BobMbx on April 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

You took the words right outa my fingers.

Akzed on April 9, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Wink wink, I was 15 when I built my first Helium-Argon Laser… (Yea, that was in Physic’s 101)

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 1:52 PM

The US doesn’t have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

I guess I should have known that. Thanks for the heads up. So, I wonder if they are packing up in other places where they -do- have embassies.

dogsoldier on April 9, 2013 at 1:54 PM

And if we have the technology, then the Chinese and the Russians will soon, as well.

Which means OUR billions/trillions in defense spending is soon to be useless.

Carnac on April 9, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Why do my comments keep getting pulled?

Minnfidel on April 9, 2013 at 1:58 PM

I still want to know what happens when Mr. Laser Weapon meets Mr. Corner Cube Reflector.

PersonFromPorlock on April 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM

The downside is it lights up the source ship for targeting like a Christmas tree when in use.

HopeHeFails on April 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I still want to know what happens when Mr. Laser Weapon meets Mr. Corner Cube Reflector.

Your ability to reflect substantial energy back at the source or elsewhere with any accuracy whatsoever is nil. A millimeter off on your ‘reflector’ at 1000 yards and you’ll miss. Aiming lasers over long distances is much tougher than it looks in the movies, and tracking a moving target, even a slow one, is impressive.

HopeHeFails on April 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

GWB on April 9, 2013 at 1:28 PM

I was going by the pic on the front page. Hadn’t watched the video.
The one in the video looks like that drone that we gave Iran.

Solaratov on April 9, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Better chance, and to me much easier, to get a counter measure to degrade the laser’s effectiveness on the target than to do what some fancifully think as easy, namely reflect the laser back at the projector.

I am also skeptical that the precision for a laser attack is going to be all that likely. In perfect or relatively perfect conditions, perhaps, but when at sea with a pitching and rolling ship with a target engaged in evasive maneuvering, it seems much less likely. Distance to target also plays a factor.

Though I would not doubt that it has promise.

Russ808 on April 9, 2013 at 2:38 PM

It’s taking up space on the helo deck!!

exhelodrvr on April 9, 2013 at 2:39 PM

The prosaically named Laser Weapons System (LaWS — no “frickin’”)

Well, they were originally going to go with “Frickin’ Laser Weapons System”, but it had top many, er, FLaWS.

*ducks*

nukemhill on April 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Cheap mirrors, oh yeah that’s rich. What, you learned that at the University of Bumf**k, Egypt?

jake49 on April 9, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Having worked on gyro stabilized platforms for TRW, I have to wonder about some of the, er, let’s say challenges this laser faces.

The videos are from land based platforms.

The beam has to be collimnated with a small target area at a distance of what, 20-30 miles? In an atmosphere.

That small target has to move with the target vehicle to maintain sufficient energy in one location to blind or destroy the target.

The optics assembly must remain stable relative to the target.

The hosting platform, or ship, is moving, in yaw, roll, and pitch.

Just the slightest misalignment at 20 miles will send the beam off. They are using Raytheon targeting equipment from sea whizz but I gotta wonder how responsive that is.

And since the beam is ir, will this blind optics in the visual and microwave ranges? You need a broader spectrum to be useful here.

danielreyes on April 9, 2013 at 4:53 PM

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