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Laser Weapon in the Works for Ground Vehicles

ARLINGTON, Va., June 12, 2014 — The first laser weapons will soon be implemented on U.S. Navy ships. And now, the Marines plan to follow suit.

The Office of Naval Research, in conjunction with researchers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center–Dahlgren Division, are working to create a solid-state laser that can ultimately prevent enemy unmanned aerial vehicles from tracking and targeting Marines on the ground.

Developed under the Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move program (GBAD), this will serve as an alternative to traditional firepower. This technology is part of the Marine Corps Science and Technology Strategic Plan for mobile-directed energy weapons that are capable of destroying UAVs and other such threats.


Depiction of a vehicle-mounted laser weapon that will ultimately protect Marines against enemy UAVs. Courtesy of the Office of Naval Research.

“We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use UAVs and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat,” said Col. William Zamagni, acting head of ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department. “GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces.”

The compact system — which will include the laser, a beam director, batteries, radar, advanced cooling, communications, and command and control — is intended for light tactical vehicles such as Humvees and Joint Light Tacticals. This will allow Marines the ability to better defend against enemies that may perform reconnaissance and surveillance from the air.

“We’re confident we can bring together all of these pieces in a package that’s small enough to be carried on light tactical vehicles and powerful enough to counter these threats,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, vice chief of naval research and commanding general of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

Some components of the new system have already been tested on various sized UAVs. Later this year the researchers will conduct such tests on the entire system, starting with a 10 kW laser and advancing to one that is 30 kW.

GBAD is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense High Energy Laser Joint Technology office, MIT's Lincoln Lab, the Penn State Electro-Optics Center, and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

For more information, visit www.onr.navy.mil.


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