US NAVY GOES STAR WARS WITH LASER GUNS
LASER WEAPON TO BE INSTALLED ON TO ARLEIGH BURKE DESTROYERS
For many decades it has been thing of the sci-fi novels, films, comics and tv series, but finally now it is becoming a reality.
US Navy is looking to test laser weapons on its warships with in next few years and plans to install two HIGH ENERGY LASERS on its ARLEIGH BURKE CLASS DESTROYER, a step closer towards what is the stuff of Sci-fi shows and films.
$150 million installation will provide another layer of offensive and defensive capability to already one of the most powerful warships in the world.
US ARMY RESEARCH has been working on offensive laser weapon capability since mid-70s, and testing first systems sometimes in late 90s.
First AIRBORNE LASER developed in late 90s and installed on to Boeing 747 platform was tested in early 2000s, to determine the effectiveness of chemical laser weapon system.
The US Air Force abandoned the system due to shear costs involved, however with improvements in technology and scaling down laser system to allow for use on much smaller platforms, laser weapon system saw comeback in form of HIGH ENERGY LASER.
High Energy Laser is direct energy weapon system capable of pin-point accuracy at great range.
US has developed several battle lasers for use in ground and naval units, 150Kwh laser which is capable of taking down UAVs, and more lethal 300KWh system capable of taking down missiles and small aircraft.
Development of 500KWh and 1MW laser systems is the next thing, and 500KW laser system is of particular interest for US Air Force which is looking at 6th generation fighter design being capable of mounting such weapon system.
US Air Force is looking to field 6th generation of combat aircraft sometimes in early 2040s.
Although US Navy has been working on RAIL GUN Technology for sometimes and eventual installation of these systems on to Zumwalt class Destroyers will test the concept.
However, the technology is still in phase of development.
Laser weapon systems provides additional layer of defence currently not offered by any other navy, it is relatively cheap and will match rapidly growing Chinese and Russian Naval capability.
US Navy will initially test 150Kw laser systems on board of flight IIa Arleigh Burke Destroyer, if tests are successful, additional 8 warships will be equipped with the Lockheed Martin laser systems.
However the 300Kw laser system that is being developed for US Navy, is far more capable system able of taking out larger targets.
It is not clear when more powerful 300 and 500Kw High Energy Lasers will see service with the US Navy, however the pace of development in high energy lasers and direct energy weapon systems is gathering pace.
Quite possibly first such systems could be fully operational within a decade from now.