CNN witnesses US Navy’s drone-killing laser

CNN

In the sometimes hostile waters of the Persian Gulf looms the US Navy’s first — in fact, the world’s first — active laser weapon.

The LaWS, an acronym for Laser Weapons System, is not science fiction. It is not experimental. It is deployed on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship, ready to be fired at targets today and every day by Capt. Christopher Wells and his crew.  

CNN was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test of the laser.

“It is more precise than a bullet,” Wells told CNN. “It’s not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military where it’s only good against air contacts, or it’s only good against surface targets, or it’s only good against, you know, ground-based targets — in this case this is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets.”

LaWS begins with an advantage no other weapon ever invented comes even close to matching. It moves, by definition, at the speed of light. For comparison, that is 50,000 times the speed of an incoming ICBM.

“It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object,” said Lt. Cale Hughes, laser weapons system officer. “We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.”

CNN witnessed that speed and power firsthand.

For the test, the USS Ponce crew launched the target — a drone aircraft, a weapon in increasing use by Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and other adversaries.

Immediately, the weapons team zeroed in. “We don’t have to lead a target,” Hughes explained. “We’re doing that engagement at the speed of light so it really is a point and shoot — we see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target.”

In an instant, the drone’s wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea.

The strike comes silently and invisibly. “It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does,” said Hughes.

It is remarkably precise, which the Navy says could limit collateral damage in wartime.

“I can aim that at any particular spot on a target, and disable and destroy as necessary,” said Wells. “It reduces collateral damage — I no longer have to worry about rounds that may go beyond the target and potentially hurt or damage things that I don’t want to hurt or damage.”

All the $40 million system needs to operate is a supply of electricity, which is derived from its own small generator, and has a crew of three. No multi-million-dollar missile, no ammunition at all.

The cost per use? “It’s about a dollar a shot,” said Hughes.

Today, the laser is intended primarily to disable or destroy aircraft and small boats. “It’s designed with the intent of being able to counter airborne and surface-based threats,” said Hughes. “And it’s been able to prove itself over the last three years as being incredibly effective at that.”

However, the Navy is developing more powerful, second-generation systems which would bring more significant targets into its crosshairs: missiles.

Those missions remain classified. However, the commander and crew are very much aware of the potential capabilities. When we asked Wells if the current LaWS could shoot down a missile, he said simply “maybe” and smiled.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/politics/us-navy-drone-laser-weapon/index.html

8 thoughts on “CNN witnesses US Navy’s drone-killing laser

  1. Just a matter of time before they start using it on people. They probably already have.

    1. Possibly, but if you’re in a situation where you could be targeted by this laser (out in the open, in its line of sight, and in range) you could just as easily be hit by a small missile or by a .50 BMG.

      Actually, I wonder if either of those might do more damage to a person than this laser, and more quickly.

  2. *** “It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object,” said Lt. Cale Hughes, laser weapons system officer. “We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.” ***

    Do they worry about the weather, e.g., heavy rain? Because I’d think that could at least reduce the range, even of an IR laser like this.

    *** In an instant, the drone’s wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea. ***

    From the video, it looked to me like it took several seconds before it had any effect on the drone. If they’d had several drones and/or missiles coming straight at the ship all at once, I think they’d be screwed.

    *** The strike comes silently and invisibly. “It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does,” said Hughes. ***

    The beam might still be visible through thermal optics as it heats molecules and particles in the air, leading a trace right back to the source of the laser.

    Overall, if I were the Russians or the Chinese, I wouldn’t be too worried about this laser. But at least the MIC is getting its $40 million…

    1. Why would you ask such a stupid f#@king question? We discuss truth and expose lies. We are not afraid to confront the false media at CNN. We post and talk about what we please here. We think we are intelligent enough not to need protection from the retards at CNN. If you ignore a problem it doesn’t just go away.
      Clear it up for you?

  3. “However, the Navy is developing more powerful, second-generation systems which would bring more significant targets into its crosshairs: missiles.”

    Firstly, the navy does not ‘develop’ weapons. They test them and then if they work well they use them.

    Secondly, this laser is hardly the first generation. The only reason we see it it either it does not actually exist yet (not a chance) OR Its gone off black budget and now needs funding from congress to expand the theater of ops.

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