The United States Navy’s futuristic laser weapon system will be ready for action as soon as this upcoming spring. The Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, could be tested and deployed on the USS Ponce in a few months. Classified information regarding the Navy’s LaWS was revealed earlier in 2010 when research to develop the weapon system was funded.
The solid-state LaWS is capable of eliminating threats like unmanned aerial drones, swarm boats and even some missiles. A video released in April of last year shows a prototype of the weapon shooting drones and missiles out of the sky using a powerful laser that is invisible to the naked eye. Navy Captain Mike Ziv announced in an interview that new technology like the LaWS “fundamentally changes the way” the United States conducts warfare.
The laser weapon has many benefits that it could bring to the Navy’s arsenal, the most impressive being the price. Unlike current technology, like a Tomahawk missile which can cost up to $1.4 million dollars each, the LaWS costs $32 million to build and potentially only $1 to shoot. The weapon also has its disadvantages, like weather, for example. Rain, dust, clouds or storms could all prevent the weapon from operating efficiently and accurately. The weapon would also require a lot of energy to operate – something that many of the Navy’s current vessels are not capable of providing.
While the United States Navy laser weapon system is ready for action, Navy officials also announced another new electromagnetic rail gun that could be used in two years. This electromagnetic rail gun would be capable of firing GPS-guided-projectiles up to seven times the speed of sound.
The laser weapon was tested out on May 24 of last year at San Nicholas Island. A video was released showing the weapon being used and operated under various scenarios, ranging from shooting down unmanned drones, to destroying missiles in flight before they reached their target. The weapon, when deployed, would be capable of being operated by only a single person, and would be capable of being fired continuously not relying on any form of physical ammunition.
In a recent study conducted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, as of 2013, the United States spends the most on military expenditures than any other country in the world. The United States spends over $682 billion, or 39 percent of the worlds entire military expenditures, on maintaining the military and funding research for new technologies like the LaWS. The United States will be the first country in the world to develop an action ready laser weapon system on one of its destroyers.
The United States Navy invested over $40 million over the past six years in order to research, develop and improve its laser weapon system. The announcement of the future installation of the weapon on the USS Ponce shows that the United States Navy laser weapon is officially ready for action. This new state-of-the-art technology will certainly affect weapons and the way governments look at warfare in the future.
By Tyler Shibata
ABC 2 News
Naval Sea Systems Command
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute