Navy tests on-board laser weapon

April 12, 2011 at 1:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy says it has successfully tested a solid-state, high-energy laser from a surface ship that disabled a small target vessel.

The Office of Naval Research and Northrop Grumman completed an at-sea test of the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, a technology intended to provide self-defense for surface ships by keeping small craft threats at a safe distance, a release from the Office of Naval Research reported last week.

The laser, mounted on the deck of a self-defense test ship, the former USS Paul Foster, was fired near San Nicholas Island off the coast of Central California.

"This is the first time a HEL [high-energy laser], at these power levels, has been put on a Navy ship, powered from that ship and used to defeat a target at-range in a maritime environment," Peter Morrison, the research office's program officer for the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, said.

A HEL weapon could provide surface ships with options when encountering a small-boat threat, Morrison said, but will not replace conventional weapons.

"From a science and technology point of view, the marriage of directed energy and kinetic energy weapon systems opens up a new level of deterrence into scalable options for the [ship[ commander," he said.

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