New ONR program aims to develop solid-state laser weapons for ships (w/ Video)

May 08, 2012
To help sailors defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets, the Office of Naval Research wants to develop a solid-state laser weapon prototype that will demonstrate multi-mission capabilities aboard a Navy ship. The Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation program builds upon ONR’s directed-energy developments and knowledge gained from other laser research initiatives, including the MK 38 Tactical Laser Demonstration tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Credit: US Navy illustration

To help Sailors defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) wants to develop a solid-state laser weapon prototype that will demonstrate multi-mission capabilities aboard a Navy ship, officials announced May 8.

"We believe it's time to move forward with solid-state lasers and shift the focus from limited demonstrations to weapon prototype development and related technology advancement," said Peter Morrison, program officer of the Solid-State Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program.

To help Sailors defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets, the Office of Naval Research wants to develop a solid-state laser weapon prototype that will demonstrate multi-mission capabilities aboard a Navy ship. The Navy’s long history of advancing directed-energy technology has yielded kilowatt-scale lasers capable of being employed as weapons. Credit: US Navy illustration

ONR will host an industry day May 16 to provide the research and development community with information about the program. A Broad Agency Announcement is expected to be released thereafter to solicit proposals and bids.

The Navy's long history of advancing directed-energy technology has yielded kilowatt-scale lasers capable of being employed as weapons. Among the programs, the Maritime Laser Demonstration developed a proof-of-concept technology that was tested at sea aboard a decommissioned Navy ship. The demonstrator was able to disable a small boat target. (Click here to watch a video.) Another program, the System, demonstrated a similar ability to shoot down four small unmanned test aircraft.

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Video of the the Maritime Laser Demonstration, a proof-of-concept technology that was tested at sea aboard a decommissioned Navy ship

The SSL-TM program builds upon ONR's directed-energy developments and knowledge gained from other laser , including the MK 38 Tactical Laser Demonstration tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. All of these efforts could help the Department of the Navy become the first of the armed forces to deploy high-energy laser weapons.

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antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) May 08, 2012
Does anyone need this? For anything? When was the last time that ships actually used direct fire weapons? 65 years ago?

And boat threats (or land targets) that are over the horizon are basically impossible to target with this - unlike with the 'old' kind of weapons.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet May 08, 2012
The laser is incapable of remaining on target within the diameter of the beam, it isn't high enough power to damage the engine that it is targeted at but can only start a fire after a minute of prolonged exposure.

A missile will present a rotating target where the surface will rotate out of beam position and allowed to cool.

Prognosis. Program failure, weapons system failure, and continued development of this failure as long as billions in government money continues to flow to the project.
Deadbolt
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2012
Needs more R&D before we get an awesome Death Ray.
Xharlie
5 / 5 (1) May 09, 2012
Imagine what this money could do in the hands of a philanthropist, in non-cosmetic medical research or in any other peaceful project's coffers.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet May 09, 2012
America spends a half trillion dollars a year murdering and planning to murder other people.

If re-tasked to moral pursuits, this money could purchase 1 terrawatt of Solar Cells every two years at current wholesale prices.

This would increase the U.S. with around 1100 TeraWatt hours of power every 2 years, which represents a 15% yearly rate of growth or replacement of it's existing power generation infrastructure.