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BAE Putting Lasers on Mk 38 Naval Gun

by John Reed on July 25, 2011

So, BAE Systems and Boeing have teamed up to add lethal lasers to the already tricked out Mk 38 chain gun system used for close-in defense on U.S. Navy ships.

In March, BAE — maker of the MK 38 system (shown above) — recieved a contract to build a demo laser system to show that such a weapon could work. Now, they’ve teamed with Boeing to produce that gun/laser demo weapon.

BAE’s Mk 38 25 mm chain gun system was originally designed to be manually aimed and fired. However, the latest version of the system, dubbed the Mk 38 Mod 2,  is completely remote-controlled using an electro-optitical/infrared sensor ball and laser range finder to find and track targets.  Add a laser to this system and it could be even deadlier when engaging fast moving targets such as UAVs or speedboats.

From a BAE-Boeing announcement:

The Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System couples a solid-state high-energy laser weapon module with the operational Mk 38 Machine Gun System. The addition of the laser weapon module brings high-precision accuracy against surface and air targets such as small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system also provides the ability to deliver different levels of laser energy, depending on the target and mission objectives.

Boeing and BAE Systems have been working together for the past two years to develop this capability. In 2010, Boeing DES conducted two experiments in the field to demonstrate the system’s ability to track surface targets and maintain a laser aimpoint with high precision.

Check out this video of Boeing’s work to built a laser-machine gun version of its Avenger air defense system. It features a Mk 38-style 25 mm cannon and a laser in addition to a number of other surface-to-air missiles.

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