ARLINGTON, Va., April 9 (UPI) -- A laser weapon prototype is to be deployed to the Arabian Gulf aboard an amphibious transport dock ship for at-sea testing, the U.S. Navy announced.
The laWS directed-energy weapon was developed by the Navy and the version scheduled for deployment this summer on the USS Ponce is an updated version of an earlier model.
The U.S. Office of Naval Research said Navy engineers and scientists have over the past several months proved that targets tracked with a Phalanx Close-In Weapon can be easily handed over to the laser's targeting and tracking system.
A single weapons officer can operate all functions of the weapon, including its firing.
Laser weapons would be used by the Navy to counter asymmetric threats, such as attack from unmanned and light aircraft and small attack boats.
“This is a revolutionary capability," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. "It's absolutely critical that we get this out to sea with our sailors for these trials, because this very affordable technology is going to change the way we fight and save lives.
"Our nation's adversaries are pursuing a variety of ways to try and restrict our freedom to operate. Spending about $1 per shot of a directed-energy source that never runs out gives us an alternative to firing costly munitions at inexpensive threats."