US Navy USS Portland LPD 27 conducts laser weapon system firing test

Elias Hubbard
May 23, 2020

Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights. Being in the 150-kilowatt class, the new laser weapon is significantly more powerful than the 15-kilowatt-class MLD and the 30-kilowatt-class AN/SEQ-3.

In footage taken on May 16, the USS Portland is out at sea when the LWSD is fired at an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that's in mid-flight.

The U.S. Navy has said one of its warships successfully tested a high-energy laser weapon system that targeted an aircraft.

In addition to disabling drones and small boats, the LWSD can function as a "dazzler", meaning it can blind enemy sensors, while integrated video cameras used for targeting can also act as a surveillance system, according to the Drive.

The USS Portland is now the only warship outfitted with the LWSD, but arms contractor Lockhead Martin is developing a similar 150-kilowatt laser.

The USS Portland was tapped to be the first ship to test the LWSD at sea, drawing on the experience of tests of the 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System (LaWS) which were carried out on the staging base USS Ponce in the US 5th Fleet area of operations between 2014 to 2017, USNI reported.

While the exact capabilities of the laser weapon system remain unknown, some reports indicate that this could be a 150-kilowatt system.

While the Portland is now the only warship equipped with the LWSD, arms contractor Lockheed Martin is working on a similarly powerful 150-kilowatt laser, which the Navy said could be deployed for testing later this year on the littoral combat ship USS Little Rock, but gave no exact time frame for when that might happen.

Senior Navy commanders hopes latest laser cannons can defend the fleet from drones and even the long-range missiles from rivals like China.

The weapon onboard the Portland is officially known as a Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0.

China's land-based missiles could outrange a U.S. carrier strike group's jets and missiles and overwhelm a carrier group's ability to intercept with a finite supply of missiles.

"With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy", the Portland's Captain Sanders said.

The Navy says it has been developing directed-energy weapons (DEWs) to include lasers since the 1960s.

Director of the Office of Naval Research Guy Renard said:"For about the price of a gallon of diesel fuel per shot, we're offering the Navy a high-precision defensive approach that will protect not only its sailors, but also its wallet".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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