On May 16, 2020, the amphibious transport dock ship, USS Portland (LPD-27) of the United States (US) Navy successfully destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a solid-state laser “Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD)” from Pacific. The exact location of testing has not been specified by the US Navy.
- It was the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser to disable an aerial drone aircraft.
What are Laser weapons?
Lasers, also known as, directed energy weapons (DEW), are effective defenses against drones or armed small boats. DEWs are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that neutralizes or destroys an adversarial capability.
- The DEWs like LWSD provides an immediate warfighter by increasing the decision space and response options of the commander.
- Targets can be engaged at the speed of light without worrying about wind, range or anything else.
In 2015, the Office of Naval Research, US selected Northrop Grumman for the development of 150-kilowatt-class LWSD Mk 2 Mod 0 for the Navy as part of the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program with an initial US$53 million contract. LWSD’s full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by NSWC Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.
- Requirement LWSD: Navy ships face an increasing number of threats in conducting their missions, including UAVs, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, valuable information on the capabilities of the SSL Weapons System against potential threats can be gained.
About USS Portland:
USS Portland (LPD-27) is the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock warship of the US Navy. It is the first ship to be named solely after the largest city in Oregon i.e. Portland.
About Northrop Grumman:
Headquarters– Virginia, United States
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President– Kathy J. Warden