Home » Cyber » Future Wars » Navy One Step Closer to Using Lasers for Ship Defense

Navy One Step Closer to Using Lasers for Ship Defense

by John Reed on January 21, 2011

The U.S. Navy is one step closer to developing a ship-mounted laser capable of defending against everything from swarms of speedboats to anti-ship missiles.

After more than two decades of research, scientists at Los Alamos National Lab last month demonstrated the technology, known as a Free Electron Laser, needed to generate a one megawatt beam that could one day provide light-speed close-in defense of Navy ships.

From the Virginian-Pilot newspaper:

“Until now, we didn’t have the evidence to support our models,” Dinh Nguyen, senior project leader for the Free Electron Laser program at the New Mexico lab, said in a news release.

The free-electron laser works by passing a beam of high-energy electrons, generated by an injector, through a series of strong magnetic fields. The result is an intense emission of laser light.

“The FEL is expected to provide future U.S. Naval forces with a near-instantaneous laser ship defense in any maritime environment throughout the world,” Quentin Saulter, program manager for the Office of Naval Research said in the release.

The laser’s speed will be a benefit to a ship that needs to react to moving or swarming targets. And it provides an effective alternative to using expensive missiles against low-value targets, a release from the Navy said.

The system could even be used as a sensor or for target designation and “disruption.”

Still the system’s got a long way to go before it hits the fleet. The Navy’s moving to test out a 100 kilowatt version of the laser soon and it will be 2018 at the earliest before the Office of Naval Research expects to test out a prototype on a ship.

Here’s the article.

Share |

{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: