The U.S. Navy says they will soon be using new type of powerful laser technology aboard their vessels in 2014. This announcement came not long after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said they would be fitting lasers onto some jet aircraft in 2014 as well.
The U.S. Navy just announced on April 8th at a Sea-Air-Space expo that they would be making use of solid-state lasers aboard some of their ships in 2014. This announcement came not long after DARPA’s report that they would be fitting jet aircraft with the laser technology as well.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, who serves as Chief of Naval Research, stated that new developments in technologies have enabled the Navy to begin using this new laser system. This new solid-state laser technology will offer the Navy a cost-effective multi-mission weapons systems that will essentially never run out of ammunition since it simply runs on electricity
"Our directed energy initiatives, and specifically the solid-state laser, are among our highest priority science and technology programs. The solid-state laser program is central to our commitment to quickly deliver advanced capabilities to forward-deployed forces," Klunder said. "This capability provides a tremendously affordable answer to the costly problem of defending against asymmetric threats, and that kind of innovative approach is crucial in a fiscally constrained environment."
The first ship to take on the laser defense weapon will be the USS Ponce (AFSB [I] 15) and comes two years ahead of schedule. While bullets and all manner of projectiles can cost thousands of dollars, Admiral Klunder said the laser technology would be very cheap to operate comparative to other weapons.
"Our conservative data tells us a shot of directed energy costs under $1," Klunder said. "Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability."
The Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) also conducted an at-sea demonstration of the laser’s powerful ability onboard a moving naval vessel. The laser successfully shot down a drone wills it was maneuvering in flight.
Peter Morrison who works as one of the program officers for ONR’s Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation Program said that solid-state laser technology is a huge leap forward in modern warfare. “The future is here,” Morrison said. He went on to say that it would change warfare, “just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords."